[2022] 多読/extensive reading challenge

Well, this is it, at long last, I have actually read 鹿の王 2. It was really really good too!
I’m really disappointed in myself, giving up last time just 3 pages before the best part in the book.
I have to say, though, I still do not like those changes in view points. It happens again later on, of course, but I just powered through.
And, of course, the book ends on a cliffhanger, just like the first volume.

Aaaanyway, I’ll just keep going with the plan and read わたしの幸せな結婚 3. Also, fun fact, I am back on track to finish 100 books this year. Huh.

Like, isn’t there any non-light novel book you have been reading?
But anyway welcome back to Japan!

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Yeah lol, I froze up for a second or two, but I think I just said I read oshimoyu, kagami no kojou, and konbini ningen. I also said I liked nishio ishin and he was like ah yeah I read the bakemonogatari manga and I was like oh cool, I’m reading the LN right now.

Thanks! Glad to be back. I sent you a message on discord, but I know you never check it, so just FYI im in Takasaki, Gunma which is like an hour outside of tokyo, so if you wanna meet up again sometime in the future I’m always down!

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This makes me really excited to finally start 鹿の王! I’ve been postponing it for so long, but I really wanna read them before watching the movie.


I recently went on another buying spree against my better judgment and purchased these books:

物語ること、生きること is a Nahoko Uehashi biography where she talks about how she became a writer, also giving advice to aspiring young writers. 神さまたちの遊ぶ庭 is an interesting non-fictional story by a woman who moved to Tomuraushi in Hokkaidō for a year with her family, 37 km away from the nearest supermarket. ド田舎生活 doesn’t even begin to describe it. Curiously, the book has been translated into German this year as I recently noticed.

Combined with the 3 books my friend sent me as a birthday present (博士の愛した数式, 星やどりの声, 楽園のカンヴァス) I now have a sizable immediate backlog. (Immediate as in: want to read in the forseeable future; I do have more books in my long-term backlog.) I’ll do my best to ramp up my reading again and hope to finish at least 7-8 until the end of the year.

For now my backlog includes:

Started:

  1. 貝に続く場所にて
  2. 人間失格
  3. 小川未明童話集
  4. 博士の愛した数式

Backlogged:
4. 推し、燃ゆ
5. 神さまたちの遊ぶ庭
6. 夜のピクニック
7. 俺の彼
8. 物語ること、生きること
9. 星やどりの声
10. 獣の奏者 外伝 刹那
11. カラフル
12. 楽園のカンヴァス
13. コーヒーが冷めないうちに
14. 鹿の王 1
15. 西の魔女が死んだ
16. キキに出会った人びと 魔女の宅急便特別編その1
17. キキとジジ 魔女の宅急便特別編その2
18. 世界の終りとハードボイルド・ワンダーランド 上
19. 雪国
20. エンピツ戦記 - 誰も知らなかったスタジオジブリ
21. 昭和トラベラー

(Roughly in planned reading order, though this changes all the time.)

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I personally think that it is a great thing that the table is reset every year to avoid a huge volume of the information displayed. However, it can take a lot of time if you are looking for a table that has been archives or whatever it is. Anyway, thank you for providing a link that I can refer to. Thank you once again.

A friend recommended the manga short collection 魔法が使えなくても to me, and I enjoyed it!

It’s a set of interwoven short stories about young people and their various dreams and angsts, and I think the art’s really excellent, I especially like the way that different SFX and sound registers mix into compositions that feel seamless, like this example:

As a collection it’s a little bit of an odd blend since characters show up in each other’s stories but it still feels a little more like a story collection more than a full-length arc, but it’s definitely a fun set. The stories all feel like they would be definite stand outs if I came across them as one-shots in Harta, which makes me want to give the magazine they were published in (Feel Young) a shot sometime.

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I’m currently reading 銀河鉄道の夜, and it’s challenging for a couple reasons. I’ll start by saying that the old fashioned language isn’t a huge issue. It’s funny seeing a kid say けれども when speaking to his mother for example, but it doesn’t really impact the difficulty. There are also occasionally words that use weird kanji, but in all those cases there’s furigana. So again, not a problem.

Overall there are two actual issues, both of which have little to do with the book being old. First, there’s way too little kanji use. It’s like I’m back reading kids books (I have no idea of the original target audience for this). I often find myself misparsing long strings of hiragana and having to reread, or otherwise pausing briefly to try to remember a word by the sound since I don’t have the kanji for reference. The second issue is that there’s a ton of specialized words. A lot of plant names, which I wouldn’t even know in English. And of course, all the constellations, which I also don’t know in English. In retrospect, not the smartest move reading a book like this when I don’t understand any of the constellation references.

In any case, it’s a really short book (which is why I picked it since I wanted to squeeze something in before かがみの孤城), so I’m going to power through. I’m about a third of the way through. It’s been a bit slow so far, but hopefully it picks up soon.

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I finished another Harta magazine

Harta #86

A new series debuts called 猫のまにまに about a mild-mannered young woman inadvertently coming to live with and care for a 猫又 - i.e. a catgirl.
With that premise I was expecting something really fetishy, and I mean… it is - but I wasn’t expecting it to be as fun as it is. I’ve definitely come across “oops I guess I have to take care of a hot monster” manga with a lot less style than this (no offense meant, Merman in My Tub), so I gotta admit it won me over with the first impression.


Two volumes recently came out in quick succession for the zombie manga, 生き残った6人によると
I should catch up and recommend it more strongly, that one’s really grown on me.

An author named 野町達也 has their second standout 特別読切 (one-shot), this one about mourning family members who were awful to you, told through the story of a man carrying the remains of his universally despised parents up a mountain to the temple.
That author has the advantage of a style that really pops so I recognized them right away! Would be happy to read more but it doesn’t look like they have anything out, so I guess I’ll just have to wait patiently.
image

Another one-shot in here, マコちゃんと海 by 示よう子 (Youko Shimesu - cool name) is a lesbian first love story that’s very sweet and also very sexually explicit. I was glad to see it, both both because it’s still nice to see a queer romance story that’s neither tragic nor implied, and because it reassures me again there’s probably not any like, editorial stricture against spelling out a queer relationship like that.

There were more 八咫烏杯 / Yatagarasu Hai contest winners in this one - a neat take on the dynamic between a 魔王 and the priest at the starting village who sends the hero on his quest, a Shogi-themed mystery solved by two bickering twins, and a short but sweet “grass is greener” kind of story about a gateway to another world.
I feel like the contest manga get less editorial oversight, so I feel like some of them could use tightening up pagecount wise… but it’s still a cool variety and always nice to see an artist debut and wonder what might be in store for them.

also did I mention Dungeon Meshi is really good

Ideally I’d like to try to catch up fully with Harta by the end of the year… and even more ideally, also with the spin-off magazine, Blue Knight, which I still haven’t read any of… and also the fun-looking special I found where artists from the magazine all contribute stories intentionally out-of-step genre-wise from their on-going series… and also with the series that I started the magazine in the middle of… and ah geez come to think of it they did a special issue in the summer I completely forgot about…
I do also still intend to binge wrestling magazines at some point to catch up on that too.
And I kinda wanted to read a Monthly Halloween for like, the non-monthly Halloween…

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:joy::joy::joy:

Now I’m glad the hoodie I picked for work some days before featured a fairly benign katakana word rather than a game/anime/manga character, else I would’ve been cooked.

Quick question to everyone, mostly @Vanilla though - regarding LNs for teenagers, what’s the usual grammar difficulty level and subjective kanji density (most words that can be spelled in kanji use kanji or only some %?)?

I’m asking because I recently started reading a book from Edogawa Ranpo which seems to be for slightly older (than the usual target audience of his Boys Detective Club novelas) kids, judging by the style and the kanji density is still fairly low. Here’s the book in question: 江戸川乱歩 天空の魔人

Once I’m done with it I would like to jump into something with even more kanji, because parsing long strings of kana is not fun, but I’m a little worried about grammar.

My immediate pick for the next book (well, more of a story) would probably be this one: https://www.aozora.gr.jp/cards/001779/files/57181_59566.html
or this one: https://www.aozora.gr.jp/cards/001779/files/56650_58209.html

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I’ve read D坂の殺人事件 and I think it would be a good one to test the waters with, since I think it’s full-on for adults, but it’s a short and fun mystery and an introduction to Kogoro Akechi who you could follow in plenty of other stories if you enjoy that one.

I don’t think the grammar should be too much of an obstacle if I recall correctly… Usually with Ranpo I think of the descriptions as pretty straightforward, but the vocabulary and kanji usage as musty and a little hard to get used to at first. So I think if you’re used to the author and are hungry for kanji it should probably be a fun time!

And you could give the current book club pick a try :eyes:

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Oh yeah, Akechi appears in 赤いカブトムシ as well. I really like Ranpo’s books. The first one, かいじんにじゅうめんそう was hard to get through, because there was barely any kanji, but it was good phonetic practice and I learned a lot of new words :slight_smile: . The plot lines are great, too!

Okay, this sounds good! I really dig his writing style so it’s actually a treat if grammar isn’t going to be a problem.

Massive thanks for feedback! :bowing_man:

My schedule is already packed with WK, Anki, occasionally Tobira and the Beginner Book Club (which ended being the “we like sad stories about dying with ultra archaic language” club :joy: ), and recent start of mandatory German classes, and… :exploding_head:

but once we start with the Househusband manga, I should have a little more time so I can hop onto the Advanced Book Club maybe :slight_smile: . Can’t promise big promises, though!

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I’d say that in general it just depends on the author. Overall, I’d say any word that you’ll find written in kanji in SOME adult books can be found in light novels in kanji as well. There’s always hella furigana in light novels, so I don’t really think authors shy away from that or anything as a whole. For grammar, it’s harder to say, but I think it’s roughly the same idea. There are some light novels that seemed to have really simple writing styles like imouto sae, shimekiri Mae ni, hataraku maou, etc. But there are also light novels that use a bit more grammar like re zero and NGNL maybe.

I think what it boils down to for light novels is that it’ll be as hard as you want it to be. There’s a pretty massive difference between the easiest and hardest I think. You can do what I did and really just read what you want for the most part (and I think I ended up fine level wise) or you can search for and only read those harder books.

Also I’m not sure how much it’ll help, but I’ve read pretty much only teen books and I think the amount of unique kanji I have come across is around 3000 iirc. So it’s not like they just stick to joyo or anything.

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By the way, if you want to try some light novels, ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖 is a mystery series about old books.
In particular, Ranpo is particularly featured in volume 4, iirc.
At the same time, I wonder how easy it is to solve the mysteries if one already knows the plot (the book still got me on a book I had read, but actually existed in two versions; I had, of course, read the modern version)

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Then end (and new beginning) of the ADHD saga.

Been there, done that, got referred to a specialist. Been there, got asked a bunch of questions, then did a test for ADHD inattentive type AND a test for ASD (like, they got suspicious because of my problems with social skills and the fact I like to play around with numbers [oh, and that I like to listen to a single song on repeat for a few days before getting bored and moving on to a different one]).
I just got the results today. Turns out that ADHD is a resounding yes and that ASD is a no.
I got some prescriptions and another appointment in three weeks to follow up on that.
Auspiciously, the ADHD thread was on the front page when I got to the forum. Guess I’ll drop by at some point.

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I’m done with 博士の愛した数式!

grafik

It was by first Yōko Ogawa and I liked, but didn’t love it. The premise requires a bit suspension of disbelief (the “memories only last 80 minutes” thing) – but everything else felt very grounded and mundane in a good way. I particularly enjoyed how the relationship between mother, son and the professor developed. I also liked the calm writing style and how it ended.

Throughout the book I really learned a lot of math-related vocabulary (and things about math in general). I personally enjoyed this more than the many baseball moments. I simply do not care about baseball enough. I know the basic rules, but when it comes to detailed descriptions or names of famous players, I tend to just skim. The book also tended to be a bit heavy on descriptions in general at points where I felt it didn’t really add anything to the atmosphere.

At some points the story has some minor mystery vibes that don’t really lead anywhere. In particular, the whole 母屋/離れ building separation seemed to imply some deeper drama that never really leads anywhere. I would’ve liked to learn a bit more about the professor’s past.

One chapter I really enjoyed was the hunt for famous baseball cards. I really love this “hunting for rarities in specialty stores” kind of thing. I never collected sports cards, but other trading cards (Pokémon etc.) and I always envy Japanese for having these kinds of stores around.

So final verdict? A good, slow, and heartwarming story with interestic dynamics between the three main characters. Not one of my favorite books, but I enjoyed it.

Next up? 俺の彼 and 推し、燃ゆ. I’ve already started and aim to finish both until end of October. Both are very short (50~60k characters), but while 俺の彼 is a very light and easy read both in terms of content and writing style, 推し、燃ゆ is much more densely written and requires way more attention. So far I enjoy both. I may also use the book club as an excuse to finally start ヨコハマ買い出し紀行 which has been on my list for a long time now.

At this rate it looks like I’ll reach my non-goal of 24 books for this year. Maybe I can also make it to 24 manga volumes.

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To further dispel your disbelief: It’s a thing, actually, and it’s called Anterograde amnesia - Wikipedia

Wasn’t the drama that they were lovers before the accident?

(And then she broke up because she could not endure his condition, but maybe I misremember that…)

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But I don’t think anterograde amnesia has a neat precise timer built-in?

They do mention similar behavior in the section “notable cases”:

  • Molaison had average intelligence and perceptual ability and a decent vocabulary. However, he could not learn new words or remember things that had happened more than a few minutes earlier.
  • As a result of anterograde amnesia, Wearing repeatedly “wakes up” every day usually in 30-second intervals.

But yeah, having a timer of exactly 80 minutes seems to belong to the realm of fiction, indeed.

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Big thanks for feedback @Vanilla @Naphthalene @rodan !

By the way, I just found about the story 吾輩は猫である by the legendary Natsume Sōseki. It’s about a house cat who thinks they are a great nobleman and uses appropriate to that language. Might be interesting as a trip to early 20th century Japan.

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Is there ever not a good time for this scene?

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I knew that there was a condition like this, but the not about the details. That’s interesting. But even if you forget about an occurence within an hour or so, would’ve you still remember thinking about what happened? E.g. if a person is away for 80 minutes, if you constantly think about that person, would you really forget them? Maybe if you fall asleep or something – though I felt the details were intentionally left vague. I’m not really bothered by it much, it wasn’t used as a cheap way to create melodrama like 一週間フレンズ after all, but handled gently.

About the 母屋 thing:

Summary

It was hinted that they were lovers, though the widow was married to the professor’s brother. But it still felt like there was a bigger mystery initially, but maybe that’s just my expectation based on mystery tropes from other stories.


I finished 俺の彼.

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The book is a collection of amusing and heartfelt anecdotes of Yōshichi Shimada’s long friendship with Takeshi Kitano (Beat Takeshi). Their first meeting, Kitano’s escape from the media to a remote island in Okinawa after causing a scandal, how they helped each other in hard times, a nearly fatal accident, how Kitano encouraged him to write books, their deep affection for their respective mothers etc.

About half of the book is about Shimada’s life, beginning with his rise to fame during the manzai boom – and the sense of inferiority and loss of direction he felt for years when his five years of popularity came to a sudden end.

Shimada admires Kitano a lot, both his personality and the intellectual qualities he himself lacks – including the talent to sense upcoming trends, adapt himself and produce hit after hit. I personally learned a lot about Kitano I didn’t know.

I really enjoyed this book, it’s super easy to read and heartwarming as his other books. Though I sometimes wonder if Shimada ever really spent time with his family (particularly his children) because he always seems to be on the road, even during his “lazy” years, but maybe he just chose to be discreet about his life at home.

I’m also 2/3 done with 推し、燃ゆ and will probably finish the 小川未明童話集 a little bit ahead of the book club. After I want to finally continue with 貝に続く場所にて while reading something lighter on the side.

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