Since @aislin (very kindly) cajoled me to join the 地球星人 book club, I read コンビニ人間!
As that having been unread on my plate for a while and surely being a common Murata entry point was my only minor obstacle to not joining that book club.
I quite enjoyed it!
I read the whole thing without a dictionary at all after realizing I could do it, and since my approach to reading has been to just get so used to my dictionary it’s like a second limb I barely think about rather than trying to avoid using it, that was a really fun and rewarding novelty, especially after 獄門島 which was 350 pages of wall-to-wall lookups. Certainly it’s on the easier side when it comes to novels, still I don’t think I could have done that a year or two ago, so pretty neat!
Especially since the book would have first come onto my radar from the original book club on this forum which would have been going when I had just started learning any Japanese at all, a handful of months into Wanikani and lurking occasionally on the forums. Not that long ago by some measures… pretty big change by others.
The book also turned out to be pretty relevant to me right now.
thoughts about that
I related a lot to the protagonist, in the sense that I also tend to think of myself as having been born from the time I settled into a comfortable status quo in early adulthood after a confusing blur of a childhood, and generally show no ambition while being content with my own weird interests despite not having many major markers of a traditional successful life. Especially now, I feel like covid and the last few years in general kinda stamped out my last bit of “I should aim higher” yearning, since before quarantine I consciously turned inward to try to make my internal status quo sustainable and make living alone pleasant and workable… which I intended as a base to then branch out and try to work on stuff like meeting people, traveling etc., which I was about ready to get started on in, oh… March of 2020.
Then All This + work from home made all of those ideas even more distant and made being happy by myself even more critical, and honestly my takeaway from all of it is that having a situation where you can be comfortable and happy by yourself is its own reward and I’m very lucky to have it and don’t especially feel like I need to seek out anything else at the moment. (though sheesh it would be nice to be able to travel someday).
Which is all to say that the “just sticking with a comfortable pattern” vs. “pursuing successful traditional human life markers” conflict the character struggles with is relevant to me, and I found her back-and-forth about it relatable. It’s easy for me to suspect that my own attempts at things like 婚活 would be, while maybe not quite as unusual and ill-fitting as hers, at least up there! And because of my own present situation I was mainly rooting for her to just do her own thing and stay at the convenience store (so I think it’s a happy ending). That might be unfair of me though, since admittedly my own situation is much more concretely stable than a ベイト, and also I feel like I encounter disapproving/concerned voices far far less frequently (as quarantine’s pretty much ironed out all the “eating cake or barbecue with old school friends” I was surely going to before… so now largely the only people I talk to on a deeper-than-cordial level are people who know me very well already). But then again, I’m also younger, so perhaps if things keep going like they do that conflict will be even more relevant to me around the time of life depicted in the book.
Personally my takeaway from the book and its ending is that we’re not all the same cookie-cutter 縄文人間 (白羽, you dumbass), and keeping to yourself and getting joy from the stuff you’re into is as valid and real a life as any other. So for now at least I’m more than happy to exploit the chance I have to get to do that.
Other tidbits: I admire how Murata makes 白羽 work pretty well as a character and contribute complex positive and negative things to the narrative and 恵子’s arc, while also making it absolutely clear that he completely sucks. The 餌 stuff is very funny.
Also, weird little detail, but I especially liked the font in the 文庫 edition. It’s a little bit more flowing and pen/brushlike than the usual ones I see. Thought it looked nice.
I haven’t read any of the book clubs (or the commentary at the back of the book) yet to keep my thoughts fresh, but I’m sure there’s plenty to catch up on now!
The next book I’m going to read is 銀河英雄伝説２:野望篇, because one of my private goals for the year was to clear out one full group of 5 books in my backlog system, and reading that would get the job done. One year ago I would have been starting to get going in the first book after slowing creeping through it for a long time previously, so it’ll definitely be interesting to see how that experience is different the second time around with a lot more books under my belt!
But also of course I’ll be reading パノラマ島綺譚 for the book club since I nominated it. Hopefully it’s good!
A friend sent me a copy as a birthday present. I know this has been part of the book club last year, but I actually knew nothing about the contents. So far it’s enjoyable. I’ve read more than 100 page on a single day for the first time in a while. Got to learn a bunch of math-related vocabulary. I guess it won’t take me long to finish.
Finished the mystery novel collection 探偵ガリレオ, which completes my goal of 12 books for the year! And there’s still a few months left to go . I was skeptical about reading short stories, but it actually works really well. I have sometimes problems keeping interest in a long story, but with the 5 different crimes, there’s kind of five ‘hooks’ to keep you in. Everytime you start a new one, it sucks you in pretty well, and even if that story doesn’t strike that engaging, the next one is right around the corner.
In this particular book I especially enjoyed the first three stories. The latter ones were a bit more convoluted with more characters and multiple murders, so it was a bit harder to follow. Still enjoyed them, though. The names with all the characters without furigana is killing me, though . Especially since each of the stories have multiple new minor characters.
Already started reading the next short story collection, 予知夢 . 草薙 and 湯川 are still as entertaining as ever.
P.S. Also rip my regular status. Guess I’ve been reading books instead of the forum more
Well boys, the reading dream may be rip for a few months. At my 打ち合わせ for the place ill be working at for the forseeable future, it didn’t seem like anyone actually spoke english. If they did, they did a good job of hiding it and spoke to me in japanese the whole time anyways. There were no issues in communication, but if imma have to do this every day I definitely wanna be more comfortable with it, yknow, so listening and speaking will be my focus for a short time. If I have free time at work, reading might be my go to since I can’t just watch dramas to practice listening at work or my microphone an start shadowing.
Best of luck to all of you my friends. I hope you finish the year strong in my stead T_T
EDIT: Also, operation hide the fact that I’m an otaku has commenced. One dude at the boe figured out I could read japanese, so he just gave me all my contracts and stuff in japanese and let me read them, right. Well later in the car he was like “by the way, how he hell can you read all this stuff” and I instinctively just said “oh, I read books a lot”. Big mistake. He was then like ok so what do you read and I was just like 0_0. Again at school, one of the teachers found out I could read kanji and started quizzing me on random words. She was finally like “eh, how do you know all these” and I was like “I re- …I do flash cards” LOL.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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!
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 . 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!
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 ), and recent start of mandatory German classes, and…
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 . Can’t promise big promises, though!
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.
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)
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.
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.