Absolute Beginners Book Club // Currently reading: Prefecture Stories ・ Next: Hunter × Hunter

Hey mate! Thanks for the suggestions and also for linking this website, it looks awesome and I will check it for next reads :ok_hand:

I was expecting something like that, guess it’ll have to wait :joy:

Also should’v expected this, after all is historical

About konosuba, it looks like this is what I was referring to, damn, this too is at a high level :flushed:

I’m missing a part here, I’m not practical of the subject - what difference is there between mangas and light novels?

Good news. I loved the anime!!

This will be a nice progression in the future then :raised_hands:

I’m willing to put the work in, go slowly and understand it at my best, but I definitely can’t stand ambiguity… I guess this won’t be much of an issue with the support of book clubs tho :joy::crossed_fingers:


Manga is what we might call a comic in English. Every scene is illustrated, and generally the only written words are dialogue/character thoughts (though sometimes, there are narration boxes for more complicated settings).

A light novel is what we would call a novella in English, and it’s pretty much what it says on the tin. A novel that is relatively short (so, light) in comparison to a full novel. Often, there are illustration inserts, but they are usually just for flavor, not really being necessary to the story.

Sample page from a manga (五等分の花嫁1)

Sample page from a light novel (夜カフェ)

Konosuba is at a high level for a couple reasons I’d guess:

  • Set in a fantasy world, meaning that there will be tons of franchise-specific vocabulary, and some odd speech patterns
  • Being a comedy, some jokes are going to be harder to understand if you don’t have a pretty good grasp of Japanese
  • There isn’t always furigana (or at least, in the previews I’ve found)
  • It’s a light novel, though I do think there is a manga version that would probably be easier.

It’s definitely in my “I’d love to understand this soon, but I know if I try it now, I’ll not enjoy it as much as I want to” column. :laughing:


Oh ok, I got it. How many pages are them on average? Just to make an idea.

Being able to read light novels is a nice long term goal for now.
Here’s a stupid question, is Japanese reading material (manga, novels and books) written from right to left? Any other things I should know? (Top bottom or bottom top?)

I see… at least in that list there isn’t heavy use of keigo :joy:

On a side note - my order from japan is getting delivered today, god bless DHL. My family and friends won’t see me for a week. On the contrary, people on this forum will hear from me a lot :wink:


Yep. If it’s written vertically, read top to bottom and then right to left.

Occasionally you’ll find text written horizontally - that’s read left to right, top to bottom, same as European languages.


Ok, thanks for the insight :ok_hand:

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I am not sure if 夜カフェ can also be classified as a light novel, as in Bookwalker, it is classified as Fiction. But I also still don’t understand differences between both.


I’m not crying, you’re crying!

The last time I had a comic in my hands is when I was 13 years old, mickey mouse comics. After 12 year feels soooo good!
Where would you guys suggest me to start? I bought the level 0 readers too, would you suggest me to start there?


Well, since I use digital books more than physical, that’s sort of a difficult question. I would say no more than like… 200 pages, with most probably averaging half that. But that’s a guess. It’s a bit nebulous I think.

Haha. I wouldn’t doubt if like, the guild staff use keigo. Honestly, I think I’d be more concerned about Megumin’s chuuni tendencies resulting in some weird, archaic language than I would keigo. :sweat_smile:

The graded readers will be easier, since it’s targeted at learners. Takagi-san will be harder, but will be more natural language (the book club folks will make this less difficult, though). If you have the time, I’d suggest reading both. If you don’t have the time, it’s probably best to ease yourself in with the graded readers to get used to reading first, and then starting Takagi-san after.

I think that is a quirk of Bookwalker that it differentiates between the two… Fiction isn’t a format, more of an overarching genre (which could range from mystery to sci-fi to slice-of-life). The only thing that fiction means is the author made it up.

Light novels are a format, and not necessarily a genre. I also don’t know if you can have a nonfiction light novel, to be honest. I’ve never seen one, but I suppose it’s theoretically possible. Either way, they are similar to novellas in English, which are pretty much always fiction, and under a certain page count. Trying to sort fiction and light novels separately is an odd decision, since most light novels, if not all, are going to be fiction by definition. 夜カフェ is fiction, after all. There are no signs that this is a biographical situation of any kind.

Where Bookwalker does class them both as separate genres, that means there are gonna be weird situations like this, where there is definite overlap between the two, but they forced themselves into one or the other.

Either way, my reasoning for 夜カフェ being a light novel: it’s short, has illustration inserts, and targeted for a younger audience (as light novels tend to be). It checks all the boxes. I wouldn’t class it as a full novel. While yeah, it’s also fiction, describing something as “fiction” doesn’t narrow the format much at all. Dune and Game of Thrones are fiction, but in their original formats, are definitely novels, for example. (Though there are Japanese light novel versions of both that reduce the stories to serialized, light reads which include illustration inserts, instead of massive novels.) My point being that you wouldn’t put 夜カフェ side-by-side with them in most cases…except that they are all fiction. That’s the only thing they would have in common.


Exciting, isn’t it!? Also, wow, after getting a good look at the first chapter art style, the shift through the series is fairly gradual, so I barely noticed at the time, but it actually has changed quite a bit. :laughing:


How about starting with the ones you feel you understand despite some vocabulary lookup. I think it’s more of grammar and sentence breaking down, and less of vocabularies.

I would recommend ones with Furigana readings, as it is still possible to guess the reading wrong, yet can still understand.

Fantasy isn’t exactly out of the questions, as long as it has Furigana.

Some will still have problems of Kana shift, or stretching / changing, making it harder to lookup, though.

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I decided to go this way: will read the sub level 1 of graded reader first (it’s very short stories, won’t take long) and then will do both as long as I will have time - otherwise I’ll go with the graded readers first because they are very short actually :ok_hand:
I read the tofugu article about graded readers and also the indications on tadoku and now I wonder something.
There articles suggest a quick extensive reading approach over a calm, thorough, check-every-vocab one, but I’m not sure would be the best if someone has patience. What I did with english was checking every single vocab I didn’t know. Now I could not be able to give the definition of something but I understand 100% of what I read in 9 cases out of 10. Wouldn’t this be best for Japanese too (as long as I have patience oc)?

Yes indeed, so much. Now I’m curious to see how the series will change :nerd_face:


About this, I need to account two things: grammar and vocabs.
Grammar isn’t a concern at the moment, since I pushed a lot on this face of the coin, but I’m a bit concerned about vocabs, since I realized that I know less that I thought. I say concern but I’m not really worried because first, kanji has furigana, and second, I have the patience to look up everything

Could you motivate?

If you mean contractions and other beautiful things like this, yes I’m a bit concerned about that :joy:
I remember that @ChristopherFritz had made a list but I lost that link and can’t find it anymore, can anyone link it pls? Also, where can I find the vocab list of Takagi vol.1?

Edit: don’t disturb linking the contraction link, found them :slight_smile:
And, i found the vocabs too👌


I tend to do a mix. The overall consensus is that quantity is better, because extensive reading exposes you to more of the language in the long-run, but I also don’t like ambiguity very much sometimes, so I understand wanting to take the deeper reading approach. Early on, I definitely checked almost everything. It’s slow and time-consuming, but the fact that when you first read, it’s more deciphering and not actually reading, means that it felt necessary to me, to get any sort of understanding.

Now my strategy is I tend to read an entire chapter once, without looking anything up unless I absolutely have zero clue what’s happening. I bookmark/highlight anything that I had to guess from context, or that I feel merits a closer look, and then do a second pass of the chapter, looking up the things I was unsure about it. Obviously, this only works if you have the time to dedicate to it, though, and it isn’t what you should do when you first start.

The vocabulary sheet is in the Volume 1 home thread. That does remind me that I should add Volume 1 properly to the offshoot thread. I just linked to it without adding all of the other stuff (since it was made after the first volume was finished, I didn’t think about it at the time).


There is a “book club” for graded readers by the way, here:

Nice place to ask question. Because they may be Graded readers, but they still have some tricky sentences sometime.


I like this approach but in my personal case there is only one problem. I hate spoilers :joy: i didn’t even want to open the other side of the manga for the fear of spoilering some important situation with the pictures (don’t know if this makes sense when talking about a manga but it’s a personal thing, the less I know, the better)

I just checked it and I think that whoever made it, deserves a gold medal. Now both that list and the contraction list are on my iPhone home screen, ready to get abused :joy:

Thanks for linking it! I literally just about to check if there were any!


Now, it may be the case that looking up everything upfront is better, even if you know some already from spoilers / anime / skimming (pre-reading).

Though, it is indeed possible to have too many to look up to distract from finishing the story (or impede the momentum). Some moderation is needed.


Well I actually have seen the anime adaptation till the end but it’s not a problem because, first of all, I watched an Italian interpretation of it, second because I forgot many details and situations and I’m just able to not think about it. On the contrary, for me checking the end of the book is like when someone tells you not to think about elephants, I’m going to imagine those f*****g elephants all day long then :joy:

Now that you say this, it could be a problem… momentum is crucial sometimes. What would you suggest then?


I think the most important thing is checking in with yourself. Considering how you’ve been going through grammar, I see no reason you shouldn’t be able to do fully comprehensive reading without a problem (if you so wish).

Also, varying your approach even with the same work is absolutely fine. Maybe one of the stories in the graded reader is so uninteresting to you, that the best thing to do if you still want to read it, is to just read it without lookups. And for another story, you might want to fully understand it and therefore look up everything until you have a full (or close to full) comprehension.

Even in learning, I personally look for enjoyment. That means that if there is a big difficulty spike, meaning I need to do a lot more lookups than normal, I’ll usually lower my standard of comprehension to understanding the gist, so I can move on to the next chapter/scene where the difficulty maybe isn’t as high. I’ll also usually lower my standard if I’m tired, because my patience and energy for look ups and such are much lower.

I also have some series that I read more extensively, and others I read more intensely. And in fact, I find graded readers a great place to do intensive reading. If they are only a little difficult, that is the time when digging into the few things that I don’t get gives a lot of results.

If you have the time and temperament for it, another approach might be to first read the (graded reader) story once without look ups, just to see how much you understand and then on a second read dig into all the areas of confusion/low comprehension. (I personally don’t have the temperament for that 95% of the time, so it isn’t an approach I use, but I’ve seen many talk about using it here on the forum.)

Ultimately there is no one strategy that is best, nor even one strategy that will always be best for you.

And with the Takagi manga, you have the aid of the book club, meaning both vocabulary sheet and grammar questions from other people already answered. So you could either go for full comprehension and use both what is there and ask additional questions when you don’t get it, or use the provided resources to do a more extensive method by using the vocab sheet and in the existing discussion threads to read as quickly/extensively as possible (without additional research for yourself).

I would say either option is useful. It all depends on what you find the most useful and/or most enjoyable.


I’d just have a go at whatever I feel like at the moment. Also, you’re not tied to a given book even if you started reading it - you can mix and match and switch books after each chapter if you feel like :slight_smile: Especially with the graded readers, they may be easy but maybe they are not as engaging, so you might get bored after the novelty wears off. To mitigate this, you could throw your full energy at Takagi or whatever in the morning, and curl up with a graded reader on the sofa in the evening, or whatever it is that calls out to you.

For graded readers? … :thinking: I don’t see a good reason for this.

Also, regarding this whole discussion about extensive vs. intensive reading, if you look at yourself in your current situation. It’s a bit like when somebody goes to their very first swimming lesson. (Like, ever.) Of course you will have discussions among the experts whether breast stroke or crawl will be best for learning to swim, and whether one should use paddles or fins to strenghten their muscles, or whether one should prefer swimming in the ocean over swimming in a lake or pool, but for that person all that matters is that they can keep their head over water long enough and often enough to not drown. No matter whether they paddle with their hands like a dog or kick the water with their legs, or whether they can actually apply some bits and pieces of a proper swimming technique. :woman_shrugging:

Apart from that, I wholeheartedly agree with

and everything else in that post :slight_smile:


thanks for your suggestions!
I think this would be the best thing for me, and with graded readers it is a doable thing because I’m not interested into the plot and spoilers aren’t an issue, but with manga I’ll just take page after page and deconstruct it at my best.
I just hope that I won’t find an overwhelming amount of things that I don’t know but just the right amount

I see your point and I believe you’re right. The only thing that really matters in the end is that I’m able to keep reading with interest👌


Hi all, apologies as this is my first time taking part in anything like this.

I’m having trouble figuring out when exactly a book is started and at what point each chapter is to be finished by.

I am just starting to consider reading and would love to join in but I’m currently a bit clueless on where to get started with this group.