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Welcome to 狼と香辛料 - Spice and Wolf
Where to buy
Amazon | BookWalker
Discussion Threads and Reading Schedule
We started reading on August 27, 2022.
- Please use spoiler tags for major events in the current chapter(s) and any content in future chapters.
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Are you planning to read 狼と香辛料 - Spice and Wolf with the book club?
- Yes, but I might start late
- Not sure
If so, which version will you be reading?
Hello and welcome to this book club! First, let’s clarify the schedule. There are 6 chapters (plus a bit of decorative contents at the front and back). These page numbers are taken from the table of contents in the book (except for the two last bits).
I’m wondering whether we should just read one chapter per week (combining 序幕 with chapter 1 and chapter 6 with the rest) which would give us a 6-week book club.
Admittedly the chapters are a bit uneven in length, but I thought that those who are worried about chapters 2 and 3 could maybe read the first part of chapter 3 in week 2 already, and leave a bit of chapter 4 to the following week. This way we would get to roughly 50-55 pages per week.
What do you think of this schedule?
- Sounds good to me
- I would prefer to go a bit slower
If you think the schedule is too fast, if you could suggest an alternative, that would be appreciated! (Only if you have a good idea.)
On Natively, 狼の香辛料 has a difficulty rating of 36, same as 薬屋のひとりごと. That book was read at a pace of mostly 25-30 pages per week, after a two week ease in period. You may want to check how people who read that book found the pace. Also, speaking anecdotally, I tried reading 狼と香辛料 on my own sometime 1-2 years ago (I don’t remember when) and found it too hard, so I dropped it after a chapter or so. Obviously a lot can change in 1-2 years, but given the setting, conversations around economics and trade, and that one of the two main characters is likely to have archaic speech (I don’t remember how significant that was), a “medium” pace like 薬屋のひとりごと might be better. Assuming people who read 薬屋のひとりごと found the pace good that is.
For full disclosure, I haven’t decided whether I’ll join, though the schedule will likely be a factor for me.
I didn’t mind the pace (the chapters were short so we always ended on a chapter~), but I wouldn’t have minded going faster, either. Personally, after the initial chapter or 2 introducing the setting and terminology, I didn’t find it to be a difficult read. Imo it didn’t really warrant keeping that pace until the end.
Of course, if other people would prefer to go slower, I think that should generally be prioritized.
Whichever way we choose, it might be good to keep in mind that we’re not bound by that choice. If we find that the schedule is too ambitious (or not ambitious enough) as we’re reading, we can still change it then.
How did you find the pace for 薬屋のひとりごと, btw @seanblue ? I know you didn’t really read with the club for long, but you did still read (most? all? of) it.
This is the first time I’m considering joining the absences book club, so if prefer a slower pace.
I found it fine I guess. It’s hard to judge because I stopped reading because I was bored by the episodic nature, not because of the difficulty. Even now that I’m trying to finish it, I find myself reading 10 pages, then not picking it up for two days, and repeat. There are more moments reading this than (for example) 本好きの下剋上 where I find myself having no idea what’s being said or having to reread a paragraph, but overall it’s not that difficult. If it held my interest, I could probably read it faster. (If it wasn’t obvious, I still have a few chapters left.)
All that said, the “fast” pace (i.e. for non-literary works) for advanced book club is supposed to be 30-50 pages per week according to the OP. So I think reading 60-68 pages per week three times is not in line with that. In order to honor the 30-50 page pace, I’d recommend the following:
- Prologue + Chapter 1 (60 pages) over two weeks
- Chapter 2 (34 pages) over one week
- Chapter 3 (68 pages) over two weeks
- Chapter 4 (60 pages) over two weeks
- Chapter 5 (42 pages) over one week
- Chapter 6 + Final Chapter (52 pages) over one week
That would be 9 weeks in total. If we did want to stick to closer to 30 pages per week, Chapter 5 + Chapter 6 + Final Chapter would have to be read over three weeks instead of two, knowing that they won’t stop at nice break points. But I think if someone gets through the first 7 weeks reading about 30 pages per week, they can probably manage 42 and 52 pages in the final two weeks. (All this assumes conveniently placed breakpoints within the chapters though.)
My schedule suggestion mainly came from looking at our current pick - Kafka - which we read (with the exception of the first two weeks and one in-between week) at a pace of 45-50 pages. Granted, Kafka is graded a bit lower than Spice and Wolf on Natively, but in my experience a few levels on Natively really don’t say much, especially for books with not so many graders. Also, Kafka is a book written for adults, and while I found some of the chapters rather easy to read, others were quite tough, mainly in terms of vocab. (architecture, military, keigo…)
I also checked with @Myria who read Spice and Wolf already, and she thought that it wasn’t more difficult than Kafka.
But I agree, by now enough people have asked for a slower speed, and that’s not a problem at all. Following your suggestion, here is another schedule proposal:
|序幕 + Chapter 1 Start
||4 + 26 = 30
|Chapter 1 End
|Chapter 3 Start
|Chapter 3 End
|Chapter 4 Start
|Chapter 4 End
|Chapter 6 + 終幕 + あとがき
||34 + 18 + 2 = 54
What do you think about this schedule?
- I am fine with this pace
- I am not fine with this pace (please explain)
Oh, and before I forget: Currently the series is discounted on Bookwalker (you get 45% coin cashback on the price before taxes) until 2022-07-20T00:59:00Z. (And everything else as well, fwiw)
Looks like the new schedule is ok for everybody. I’ve added it to the home thread.
If any of those of you who own a physical book could check on page 41, 139 and 203 whether there is a suitable break on these pages (or maybe ±1 page), and could post the page numbers and the last few words before each of these breaks, that would be much appreciated! I will then incorporate this into the schedule in the OP.
Just throw out a level for me, what wanikani level is Spice and Wolf minimum?
I’d say grammar and vocab are much more important than kanji knowledge. For grammar, N2 would be good, N3 would be ok but you will probably need to do a bit of grammar lookups. For kanji, I have no idea with this particular book, but I found that many books became really accessible in the 40’s levels. But that doesn’t mean you cannot read them at a lower level! If you’re worried about kanji lookups, I can recommend reading the ebook (where you can lookup vocab and kanji through the built-in dictionary or through some other means, depending on the ebook reader).
By the way, if you are worried about vocab (or want to pre-learn some words) you can check out lots of detailed information and a vocab list here:
Unfortunately the nearest subsection breaks to page 41 are on pages 28 or 63, because the whole of 28-63 is the “two main characters meet for the first time” scene. (That seems like it would be a shame to split halfway through, but I don’t see how to avoid it.)
Incidentally in the print copy although the prologue nominally starts on page 11, the only full page of text is page 13, and then chapter 1’s actual text starts on page 17. So the first week’s 30 pages include a lot of blank pages
139 handily has a section break: preceding text is そんな中のうちの一人に、予想どおり件のゼーレンの姿があつたのだった。
203: nearest section breaks are 197 and 220. Take 197, or break partway through a scene?
There’s a reason I did not want to break in the middle of chapters
First of all, thank you very much for looking into this, and for your suggestions!
For the first breakpoint: Breaking at page 63 doesn’t make much sense to me, with 8 pages left until the end of the chapter. If we break at page 28, that nominally means 17 pages for the first week, but as you said, many of them are (half-)empty (which I had suspected for the start of the book), so that would mean maybe 10 pages worth of contents? Doesn’t make sense to me either. So, a break in the middle of the scene it is.
Could you maybe find a nice spot for the break?
For the last breakpoint: Breaking at 197 means 24 + 36 pages, which doesn’t sound too bad to me. Let’s do that!
OK. Here’s the p197 before-the-break text: 、大声で店主に桶を持ってくるようにと叫んたのだった。
For the chapter 1 break, this is on page 43: 、小麦取引にこれ以上心強い味方もいないだろう。
It’s inevitably mid-conversation but it’s at a bit of a lull in the dialogue so I think it’s as good a break as we’re going to get and given the early blank pages it’s about at the midway point.
(Edit: fixed typo in p43 text.)
Does the ebook version have the illustrations, by the way? The print book has three full-colour double-page-spread illustrations at the start, and a handful of single-page black and white illustrations scattered through the book.
Thank you! I’ve added the information to the OP.
It does have the three large colour illustrations at the start, and I guess it will also have the other illustrations. (Haven’t specifically searched for them, though.) Although of course the joy of looking at the large illustrations is somewhat diminished on my phone
I did say my proposal depended on conveniently placed break points.
Well, I’m glad we found something reasonable at least.
Yeah, like, chapter endings
But I gotta agree that we found something reasonable. It’s always hard to decide on a suitable pace if the book and its difficulty are unknown.
I was mostly thinking about how assigning 60-70 pages some weeks would be unfair to people who were expecting 30-50 pages, since that’s what the home thread currently states. So if you think 60-70 pages can be acceptable for Advanced Book Club, you (or whoever) may want to start a discussion in the Advanced Book Club home thread about whether the 30-50 pages per week rule should be changed going forward. I just didn’t want it changed out from under people for this book.