10 Minute Biographies Home Thread (Absolute Beginner Book Club) - Finished!

Welcome to 10分で読める伝記(2年生) - 10 Minute Biographies (2nd Grade Reader) Book Club!

We read this book between November 2020 and April 2021. The book is available as a digital book or a physical book.

We read this as the Absolute Beginner Book Club. This book club aims to help readers who are new to native Japanese content successfully read their first book. We try and pick books that are a good level for beginners, read at a steady pace, and encourage readers to ask any basic question about the text.

Visit the Absolute Beginner Book Club Home Thread to see what we’ve read already, and to get involved in picking the next books.

Book Summary

This book contains short biographies of 12 famous people from around the world. It includes stories of the lives of Osamu Tezuka (often called the “Father of Manga”), Sesshu Toyo (15th century Japanese artist), Leonardo da Vinci, and Ernest Thompson Seton (founder of the Boy Scouts of America).

This is part of a set of books aimed at Japanese elementary school children. This particular volume is aimed at students in the second grade. This means about 80% of the kanji used are from the first ten levels of Wanikani, and all of the kanji used should be from the first 18 levels of Wanikani. All of the kanji have furigana. The grammar used is generally JLPT N4 and N5 level.

The book is illustrated and the text is large and easy to read (no squinting at tiny characters). Click here to look at the original nomination post and see some example pages and the table of contents.

One of the advantages of this book is that each chapter stands alone. So if you fall behind at any point, it is easy to skip a chapter or two and catch up again with where the main group is reading.

Schedule & Discussion Thread Links

Chapter Page Biography Start Date
Chapter 1 10 Edison Nov 7
Chapter 2 27 Marie Curie Nov 23
Chapter 3 43 Beethoven Dec 9
*********** Christmas Break Dec 25-26
Chapter 4 59 Wilhelm Röntgen Dec 27
Chapter 5 71 Ernest Thompson Seton Jan 8
Chapter 6 85 Leonardo da Vinci Jan 22
Chapter 7 99 Columbus Feb 4
Chapter 8 111 Brothers Grimm Feb 15
Chapter 9 123 Sesshū Tōyō Feb 27
Chapter 10 137 Tomitaro Makino Mar 13
Chapter 11 151 Momofuku Ando Mar 27
Chapter 12 165 Osamu Tezuka Apr 10
*********** Finish date Apr 24
The plan is to read one page a day. The main content of the book is 170 pages long, so it will take us about 24 weeks to work through the book. There will be a separate chapter for each thread, the links to each chapter will be added above.

Vocabulary Sheet

Book Club Members

  • I want to take part in this book club
  • I’m not sure yet
  • I’m not planning to read this one but I might pop in from time to time to see what you are up to!
0 voters

If you’ve read it before but will join in the discussion, please select ‘yes’!

Buying the Book

Physical: Amazon | CDJapan

Digital: BookLive! | ebookjapan | BOOK☆WALKER (purchase of this book from bookwalker requires the user to physically be in Japan or use a VPN)


I also saw that there’s an older, cheaper version available too. I guess there will be slight differences like we noticed with the Science Stories book, but I don’t think anyone had too many issues with that?

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Oh, nice find! It’s also available at Bookwalker.


I think I might take part in this as my first book club ^-^

I can probably hit near 18 by then.


A little disappointing that its locked down on bookwalker, that’s where all my other stuff is…

Is this going to be writing a lot of words in kana that would normally be in kanji?

You can easily buy it using a VPN like Tunnelbear (super-easy: install it, point it to Japan, done).
As the Bookwalker page says, after the purchase it is no longer locked:

“This product is only for Japan domestic sale.
After purchase, you can download the data overseas.”

I’d expect that, yes. I haven’t read this book yet but others from the series, and they usually heavily adapt the kanji usage to the grade they’re aimed at (with the exception of names).
You can have a look into the book on Bookwalker when you use Tunnelbear.


Thanks for that info - I’ve not used a VPN before and had been looking them up earlier so if you’ve not had any problems with Tunnelbear, I’ll try that one!

No, it works like a charm!

Just one thing I just remembered I should mention: As soon as you turn it on, all of your surfing goes through Tunnelbear (because it cannot know that you only want to use Bookwalker with it). One gets 500 MB of free data per month, so make sure you turn it off again after you finished your purchase, so that you still have enough data available if you need it again during the same month…


I did read the free version was only 500MB but figured it should be enough just to have it on for a purchase. Might stick it on Chrome (I use Firefox as my main browser) and turn Firefox off when I use it. Got way too many tabs running otherwise :sweat_smile:

Oh yes, if you have it running for a little while that doesn’t hurt, even with lots of tabs. It’s just if you start watching videos in your browser or something for a few hours, that might deplete your 500 MB eventually.

No, I’m not speaking from experience here, I would of course never do such a stupid thing :roll_eyes:


With the previous book we only found minor differences here and there between the old version and the new version. At one point I remember there being a short extra sentence in the new version compared to the old version. But it really didn’t cause any difficulties.

Looking at the first page of the Edison chapter the text is nearly identical between the two. In the new version the first sentence has changed from “around 160 years ago” to “around 170 years ago”, and in a later sentence the word ふしぎそうに has been moved to a different place within the sentence. So very minor differences only in the text that I can see.

BUT - I spotted one very significant difference between the old and new Book Walker versions. In the new version the text appears exactly as it does in the physical book, with the illustrations placed next to the text, and even has the original page numbers at the bottom corner. This avoids the problem of ebook readers not knowing where the page ends each day, and also in my opinion looks nicer.

However, in the old Book Walker version the text is more like Kindle text, and the amount of text on the page depends on the size of text you’ve selected. This means there is no way to know which sentences are on which page in the physical book when we are reading as a group. And it also doesn’t look so nice to read.

Pictures comparing the two versions:

New Version (Book Walker)

Old Version (Book Walker)

Note how the page numbers have already diverged from the new version/book version, and the picture has been separated to a different page.


Oh, that’s a very good point! Thanks for mentioning it.

By the way, please be aware that there might be factual errors in the book! E.g. I was quite surprised to see this (in the new edition):


In reality, this guy was a German…


According to the book born in Germany but raised in Holland. Wikipedia says German dad and Dutch mum and moved to Holland when he was 3.

Oh interesting, I did not know that! Still, the German wikipedia page says he is German; although he lived in the Netherlands during his youth, he did most of his scientific career elsewhere (Zurich, Strasbourg and finally in Germany). So I still consider this an error in the book, although it gets more understandable with this background knowledge. :woman_shrugging:

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Dutch Wikipedia says he is German too for fair measure! Maybe it’s those old special ties between the Japanese and the Dutch and they decided to award him to Holland on the map!


I think I’m going to buy the physical copy, these books are very nice!


Oh this is a very important distinction between the two versions that I didn’t notice, thanks for pointing it out! I just downloaded both Kindle samples to my iPad to check them out:

The old Kindle edition has selectable text, which means you can use the inbuilt dictionary for lookups, but it uses Kindle locations and not page numbers.

The new Kindle version looks like a high quality scan of the print version – so it has page numbers, but no selectable text and you can’t use the inbuilt dictionary.


Gives them an excuse to make new versions regularly :laughing:


Start Date Poll

Is everyone happy if we start the book straight after we finish レンタルおにいちゃん? That means starting on 7th November:

  • Yes let’s start November 7th
  • Can we start later? (please explain below)

0 voters


Haha, luck would have it I bought this and some of the other biographies and the like a few weeks ago. Guess I’ll hold off on reading them until the book club starts reading them, great timing! :smile_cat:

Looking forward to reading this with all of you!

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