地球星人 🌏 Book Club ・ Week 3

I need to start using monolingual dictionaries asap, I’m clearly missing out on a lot of nuances. :face_with_monocle:
That was amazing, thanks. :grin:

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If it’s a prediction that later turned out to be correct, made by someone who is reading this book for the first time, I guess that’s within the scope of normal discussion. I feel like that sort of speculation is something Murata is almost inviting us to do, because she does tend to leave bread crumbs for us to pick up and work with.

I agree that references to the plots of other books than this one need to be clearly marked as spoilers for that book.

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I am strongly of the opinion that connections to the outside world and to other literature deepen appreciation and understanding of the reading, so I don’t want to discourage this sort of discussion (in fact I encourage it through the discussion questions).

I’ve posted some straightforward spoiler rules to avoid the problem. The discussion and responses here have been so good that it would be a shame for somebody to miss out for fear of spoilers. The rules will be in the home thread, the previous weeklys, and every weekly going forward.

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Good thing I still have Penguin Highway to read that I want to finish before the end of the year, helped me not to read ahead this week. :sweat_smile:

The book definitely is giving me and scratching that certain itch simultanously. Really enjoying it so far. Language was also very approachable this week, finished faster than I expected. Btw, thanks for the name/relation sheet!

Don’t really have anything to add to the discussion that wasn’t covered by everyone else already.

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Are there online versions of these dictionaries, or are they are only available in physical form?

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On iOS you can get them in the ‘Dictionaries’ app from 物書堂, but you will have to pay for each dictionary. I don’t know if there is also an Android version. And I assume that you can also buy them in physical form. The app is pretty nice actually, because you can easily search for words, idioms and example sentences across multiple dictionaries in one go (if you bought them).

Watch out if you like dictionaries and have disposable income… I mean I’m not saying that I didn’t spend hundreds of euros on dictionaries in one app…

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Do you read on the Bookwalker app? Can you use these dictionaries from within Bookwalker?

I’ve been looking at that app and the available dictionaries for ages, trying to resist (for now). I know that once I get one, I’ll want more. (As a kid I used to casually read random dictionary pages to pass the time, so you could say I like dictionaries.)

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More off-topic dictionary talk

No, sadly I haven’t found a way to search words directly from Bookwalker. If only the ‘Share’ function in Bookwalker actually shared the selected text, then it would work. I read on an iPad and keep the Dictionaries app docked to one side so that I can swipe to open it and type in the word. It works almost as well.

I would say the 三省堂国語 is worth it just to have a J-J dictionary. I use it a lot and I think I paid less than 15 euros for it at the time. Since it’s aimed at middle/high school students, it uses fairly simple language and kanji and has furigana for more advanced kanji. (Strangely, I don’t see it listed in their in-app store at the moment (?) maybe their listings change periodically; they also have various sales all the time.)

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More off-topic dictionary talk

For reading on the iPad, there is already a J-J dictionary built-in (スーパー大辞林), you just need to enable it. You can look up words from within Bookwalker on the built-in dictionaries, by selecting the word and then Dict from the pop-up menu. I’d really like more variety though, so I’ll definitely look into buying some more dictionaries in the future. I saw the listing for 三省堂国語 just the other day, but now it has strangely disappeared.

Right? There is a way to share selected text, it just probably takes more time than actually typing the word like you do. It was discussed a little in this thread where I was seeking dictionary-related advice if you’d like to read more.

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More off-topic dictionary talk

Yes, you are absolutely right! I had slightly forgotten about that because the Dictionaries app is now my go-to solution. With the iOS built-in dictionary the definitions are often still too hard for me to understand (that should get better in the future) and you can’t “click through” to get to the definitions of the words that are used. In the Dictionaries app you can drag your finger over a Japanese word to search for its definition and drill down.

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I just remembered something I had been meaning to ask:
How come Natsuki and Yuu have the same surname? 笹本奈月 and 笹本由宇. Isn’t Yuu’s mother the sister of Natsuki’s father? Or did she change back her name (and her son’s) after the divorce?

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In this week’s reading I loved the marriage scene, especially the pastor’s role, although the clause #3 added by Yuu to their nuptial contract is slightly worrying me.

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Good question and I don’t know. Maybe we will find out more about it later.

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Just wanted to say I’ve had almost as much fun reading the responses as I did the actual book. I’ll be careful about responding too much because I don’t know to what extent my knowledge of what comes informs my opinions.

I’ve discovered yet again with this book that there is sometimes so much to be gained from reading slowly. There’s so much nuance that I missed from listening on 1.5x speed over the course of two days in English. Here it’s been great taking some time to digest over the course of the few hours it takes to do a week’s reading.

The whole Obon chapter felt extremely relatable. I have cousins that I love that I saw every Christmas when I was young. Unfortunately my mother and their’s had a bit of a falling out, so it was devastating when we stopped seeing them as often. I definitely felt for Natsuki in the scene where she was dragged for the sake of Kise and her mother.

I’m aware that the choice not to attend school is a big problem in Japan. I wonder to what extent it’s driven by bullying? (Minor spoilers for かがみの孤城)I’m really interested to learn why the other kids in the castle don’t attend school. I also wonder whether the driving factors differ for boys and girls.

Bugs are clearly a motif here, and I didn’t pick up on that at all on my first readthrough. (General comment on other Murata books) Insects seem to appear frequently in Murata books, and in the last few I’ve read they’ve seemed to carry significance. I’m curious to see where else bugs show up in this book. (Spoiler for first page of chapter 2) The silkworms do make an appearance in Natsuki’s baby-factory analogy.

I almost want to start a page in the spreadsheet for favorite vocab of the week. Some of these words are too great to forget.

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I just noticed that the German translation has a different title: The Silkworm Room. I wonder if that means we’ll see more references to the silkworms :thinking:

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Seems like I’m on a roll! This section was fairly breezy to read with lots of dialogue.

Thoughts on plot

Murata continues to paint such a vivid picture of the summer festival: like others I was dissapointed that the trip was cut short.

I was especially amused to read stereotypical Christan wedding vows in Japanese.

Re sister: I wondering how big a problem school refusal is in Japan, having had it come up now in multiple pieces of Japanese fiction. Is it a combination of extreme school pressure with a parenting culture that is somewhat more permissive or accommodating? Is it a case of it being somewhat “contagious”, i.e. if you know of someone who doesn’t go to school then it’s on your radar as an option of sorts? Anyway, I’d be interested in seeing the numbers of kids who don’t go to school in Japan vs other countries.

I don’t think that the sister is a total drama queen (bullying can definitely be cruel) but she does seem to be pretty oblivious to her sister, or how she might feel about having to leave. I’m not even sure if she’s spoken to Natsuki at all so far in the book.

It is also increasingly obvious that both Natsuki and Yuu mother’s are the biggest problems. Yuu especially - it’s not normal for a kid to think that there is a possibility that they might not survive or that he might be kicked out any minute. Like others, I’m not sure they will see each other next summer.

Natsuki mother seems to mostly to have golden child syndrome - if there is abuse, it seems mostly psychological at the moment. I’m interested to see how the relationship with her daughter evolves.

Also, I take back my feelings about uncle Teruyoshi. He’s seems genuinely nice. Like the grandmother, I like her too.

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Week 3’s in the books! Reading seems to be taking less time than it used to; not sure if that’s localized to this book or in general.

Thoughts on this week's reading

I also thought that was interesting! I guess it’s possible they’ve never gone to a wedding, let alone a traditional Japanese one. Maybe Natsuki knows about western wedding vows from TV or movies? As for Murata’s choice to write it that way, I kind of think it adds to them both feeling like outsiders in their families; I mean, this wedding is also taking place during a traditional Japanese festival. Kind of clashes (and makes me wonder if it’s a faux pas to have a wedding during obon? :thinking:)

I agree with everyone re: worry over Yu’s addition to their vows. Part of me thinks we will see Yu again, but maybe not at the next obon? For all I know, Kise will be hysterical right before, and Natsuki won’t even get a chance to see him the next year.

This also intrigued me. I’m hoping we get to see more of her regular family life.

Regarding kids in Japan skipping school, I can’t say I know all that much about it, but when I was part of JET, there was this one kid who would technically be at school, though they’d never actually attend any classes. I don’t really know what the issue was there, but the other teachers never seemed to force anything.

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