Hello! I’m kicking off the 推し、燃ゆ informal reading club. This is an offshoot of the ‘Profoundly Weird’ Book Club.
What is this book about
English machine translation which I lightly edited because the machine got confused
My beloved idol is my backbone, neither escape nor dependence. Akari pours her heart and soul into “interpreting” the idol Ueno Masayuki. One day, all of a sudden, her idol burst into flames…
Usa’s debut novel “Kaka” won the 56th Bungei Award and the 33rd Mishima Award (she was the youngest ever winner of the Mishima Award). 21-year-old Usa Rin’s second novel is a masterpiece.
As this is an informal reading group there is no schedule. Join at any time for discussion or questions. The sections are a means of referring to where you are at in the book. I do not have a physical copy so these will be % based. I have broken the sections up based on
* breaks as I don’t see any chapters.
||% into book it ends at
The breaks are a bit scattered, but the book is listed at a slim 128 pages and doesn’t even break 100 on my iPad so hopefully should be fine
How do I get it?
Bookwalker link | Amazon link
As a note there is an audiobook available for this title on both Audible (availability may vary by your country) and audiobook.jp.
Those of you wishing to add this to your Natively library may do so here.
Do you plan to participate in reading this book?
- Maybe later
- I wish to click a poll
Will you be reading physical, ebook, audio, or combo?
- Physical book only
- Ebook only
- Audiobook only
- Reading and listening
Why do I want to join this when I know it’s going to be too difficult, and not to mention I’m still reading a few other things
I’ve already read the book but I’ll be lurking - if that counts as joining the club.
This one is free with audiobook.jp’s 聴き放題 (monthly subscription) and free with Audible trial. Well, it has been in 聴き放題 for a while, but I tried and not particularly interested in it (vocal, topic).
Actually, おいしいごはんが食べられますように was in 聴き放題 as well, but not anymore.
The book, whether physical or e-book, seems expensive.
Maybe I’ll go with listening this time, if I can work it out somehow.
Yeah I think it being so new plays a part in that. I probably got mine when I had coupons (I shop on Rakuten rather than Amazon or Bookwalker).
I suspect this will be a difficult book to do listening only, but I’m basing that on my passive vocab for listening which is much smaller than that for reading
I wasn’t intending to listen to the audiobook, but I had some difficulty parsing some sentences in the beginning and thought the audio might help (the fact that audible had an offer for 4 months also helped). I was complaining about the かがみの孤城 audiobook being too expressive for my liking - well, this one is as deadpan as I could wish, only I’d appreciate a little more expression this time to help me out.
Anyway, I’m glad I got it. The narration’s speed is good, and it’s clear and without theatrics, which I appreciate.
I’m finding the narrator’s thoughts difficult to parse though. This may be a short book, but I don’t see me flying through it. With 四畳半神話大系 also feeling difficult, I’m left to wonder whether it’s actually me rather than the books. Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel differently?
Glad it’s not just me
I admittedly am having a bad focus day (I tried like 3 other books, 1 in English before giving up on reading on the plane) but even without that I imagine this wouldn’t have been a smooth read for me. Some of it was no access to the internet on the plane so weird phrases that I suspect are slang I couldn’t check and I have minimal understanding of idol culture. I think the fact I knew about idols having specific colors and people wearing/lighting up that color to show support is the extent of my prior knowledge
ETA: I forgot another thing which I do know about idol culture and it’s the ハイタッチイベント / ハイタッチ会. I found a video of one on youtube involving some girl group here.
I ended up stopping somewhere in section 2. I’m debating restarting the book but with access to the internet and speeding up the audio since I’ve already gone through some of it already.
I will say some scenes read very clearly to me while others felt much more opaque and I think a lot of it was vocab for me, but definitely some of it was just getting the hang of how it’s written. By the time I stopped reading I felt I was understanding pretty easily, but not invested/interested enough to keep going.
I don’t want that to a damning review of the book just yet, though, as I did struggle to keep interested in other books on that same flight.
I will say a point that I seemed to have lost is what are the ages of Akari vs 推し? When she was talking about him being Peter Pan I got the impression he was probably 5-10 years older but if it’s ever directly stated I missed it.
That’s one point I can answer I think. Akari was 4 when she saw the Peter Pan play, and 推し was 12 at the time, so a difference of 8 years. Interesting that as a 16 year old she was so affected watching a 12 year old boy on DVD.
I haven’t even finished section 1, but I like what I’m reading so far (and it’s still early), it’s just that it’s harder work than expected. It is a world very foreign to me though, so I suppose it should have been expected.
I have this book lying around somewhere at home.
This is my sign to finally start reading it.
Will def join at a later point
I read up to the end of section 2 yesterday (although it shows up as 33% rather than 35% for me )
There were many parts that felt more straightforward, but generally I’m still having to use my very fullest concentration to follow along. Especially most of the short social media posts might as well be gibberish (I’m bad with dialogue, and especially no-context extra-short dialogue). I feel like I might benefit from rereading this book very carefully at some point, because like I commented on the Read Every Day thread, I feel it highlights how I probably tend to rely more on context than precise comprehension (context is no help for me here). It somehow feels like I’m reading without glasses on, as if the meaning of a sentence is a little blurry around the edges, and I’m pretty sure that shouldn’t be the case. May still be that I’m generally tired and distracted these days, who knows.
I can’t comment much on plot as really it’s more about Akari’s thoughts than plot progression, but did I understand correctly that the father is working abroad, but his mother insisted that the rest of the family stay behind to take care of her? And they just…did?
I got something along those lines, yeah. I have been pretty busy so haven’t touched it since my I first tried (travel weeks = busy weeks) but that’s sounds right although I don’t remember there being pressure from her mom, just thinking it was weird about her dad.
Rather pressure on Akari’s mom, by her mother-in-law. If I understood correctly, her mother-in-law was angry at her son for leaving her behind, and demanded that the rest of the family stay behind? Or maybe I’m just filling in details that weren’t there.
That sounds like what I remember too. It’s really weird from my (very western) standpoint, but I guess if you’re really into respecting and taking care of your elders, you’d prioritize the mother in law’s wishes before your own.
I’ve read up to the end of section 3 (or is it the start? 55% anyway). I’m still not comprehending a 100%, but I think it’s going more smoothly than before. The structure of the book is such, that it’s not easy to comment individually on each section. Everything sort of flows into everything else. What stood out to me were details:
People pluck their white hair?? But why?
And who names their daughters Akari and Hikari?
Other than that, our protagonist apparently had learning disabilities from an early age (I enjoyed and appreciated the kanji writing description), and somehow the burden to help her fell on her sister. I’d expect that with the father working abroad he would at least earn enough to send back home so that his wife wouldn’t have to work herself to exhaustion, but apparently he’s absent in more ways than one.
I’m starting to sort of get Akari’s obsession with her Oshi. It’s sort of an ideal relationship, where she gets to see her object of affection as often as she likes, and the relationship is never in danger of turning sour, as it is absolutely one-sided. For someone with reduced social skills, as Akari seems to be, this situation is ideal (in the short run of course). She even gets to bond with friends over their common obsession, and even learns new things indirectly by being interested in anything even remotely connected to her Oshi. Normally she should naturally outgrow this phase in a year or two, and be more ready for the real world, but if her Oshi “breaks up” with her first by disappearing from public view, it would probably be devastating for her.
Read the next section. (3? The one that ends at 70%. It’s so confusing that one section is numbered 0)
I’m thinking taking breaks between sections like I’ve been doing is a bad idea. I’m utterly confused about time by this point. Akari decided to quit school (or just stop going for this year, since she’d have to repeat the year anyway?), the grandmother dies (and turns out it was the maternal grandmother, when I was sure she was the father’s mother - unless there are two of course), Akari
the family moves to the mother’s family home (why not follow the father abroad now there’s no grandmother to take care of?), Akari quits (or basically neglects) baito, and apparently she was supposed to have been looking for a job (so she’s not going back to school then?) but isn’t really. Meanwhile, I have no idea how old her older sister is, and whether she’s working. When did all that happen? How long has it been since that Oshi-hitting-someone incident?
I need to pick this back up now that I’m back home Also sorry about the zero section, I work with computers so unfortunately when I was making that list my brain defaulted to ‘ah yes, lists begin with zero’.
Ok, I edited the sections to be more…human It looks like a normal book club now, except with sections instead of weeks. Given the general lack of ‘real’ sections in this book though percentages might be the easiest way to handle spoilers in comments, though.
I started reading it again, and I’m only 7 minutes into the audiobook and I’m realizing I must have been super tired on that plane ride (which given how terrible my focus was even in English is probably true).
I was struggling a lot to visualize things and I thought it was vocab before, but this time around I’ve only looked up a few words but the meaning of everything is coming through a lot clearer. So that’s interesting. Hopefully will have time tonight to get a decent chunk done.
Finished the book! And I loved it.
I didn’t expect it to resonate with me so much. A school girl obsessed with an idol, surely we have nothing in common? Yet the book pulled me in way more than I was expecting. And to my surprise I even found common ground with the protagonist, to the point that reading the book started affecting my own mood even after closing it.
Much of that is due to the writing, which I found spectacular. At first it felt very difficult to follow, and I can’t say it ever got easy for me, but it did get smoother. The difficulty doesn’t lie in vocabulary or grammar. Part of it is the stream of consciousness narration where often even time and place is not particularly clear. Part of it is that I have no context for the world she was describing, idol worship and related internet posts and merchandise. And part of it (well, most of it) is her unique way of viewing and describing the world and her own thoughts. Which is what makes the book the little gem it is.
I found Oshi’s side, even though it’s only indirectly described though his public appearances and Akari’s almost motherly attention, particularly sad. I wonder how many idols’ stories are like his. Being brought to the stage at the tender age of 5, it seems like he never had any say in the matter. The stage was the only world he knew, but apparently never one he enjoyed. Having your every word, your every action or gesture scrutinized, having no privacy, constantly battling for your fans’ support even against your own band mates, this all sounds like an endless nightmare to me.
I’m just about 60% done and I’m going to see how much I can finish today - only 90 minutes left in the audiobook but I’m not feeling any drive to rush through as quick as I can.
Thoughts so far:
Honestly kind of depressing. I enjoy the writing style, but her interactions at work, her interactions with her mom and her sister, her distress with her physical appearance, the talk of repeating a grade…man. It’s a lot. High school is also not free in Japan, so her mom is paying to send her there and she’s basically failing out.
I wonder a bit about Oshi based on the tidbits of ‘real’ we’ve gotten. His mom ran away with his sister when he was in middle school. He’s said things like he’s always acting. He’s short with words when thanking fans and generally the impression I get is that he’s not happy being an idol but he’s in it now, no where to go.
Not a spoiler just a general discussion:
I’ve heard that idols, particularly girls+women are not allowed to date because it ‘ruins the fantasy’ for their fans. I’ve gotten the impression this is also true for men, at least sometimes. I’ve also seen examples of idols getting married, though. Anyone have any insight here? It’s pretty strange to me from a western perspective as obsessing over who the celeb is dating seems to be half the fun for a lot of people, but I’m pretty divorced from that culture too tbh
Huh, I somehow thought that public high schools were free, but apparently private ones are just more expensive. In that light, it’s crazy that her mother keeps paying for it when Akari is obviously not invested (to put it lightly) and they’re struggling financially (I’m guessing that’s why the mother works so much). In general, and I’ve seen it in other books too, it’s like parents just expect kids to “snap out of it” instead of recognizing that they may need extra help. Akari even had a diagnosis, but she kept neglecting going to the doctor and no one seems to care much about that. She’s just expected to cope.
Very much so. My impression too is that he’s trapped in a life he hates, and has been trapped from such a young age that he basically never experienced a normal life of basic privacy. I feel for him.
Yeah, definitely not a happy book. In fact I was feeling inexplicably sad the other day for no apparent reason, then I realized that the book had been affecting me a little too much.