Absolute Beginners Book Club // Now reading: Cells at Work! // Next: Ruri Dragon

That’s a very robust approach. Thank you for the clarification, and thank you even moreso for setting all of this up! I’m not sure how quickly (if at all) I’ll get caught up with the book tbh, as you can see I’m only at lvl 8 on WK and my grammar knowledge is definitely going to be at the N5 level for some time, but I’ll nonetheless do what I can. At the very least, it’ll be useful to me down the line, alongside the Prefectures and Happiness books from the previous group read-alongs which I ultimately became too intimidated to participate in. Thanks!

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Happiness is actually one of the easier ones. If you want one to read, that’s a very good starting point. Just do remind yourself, that reading is always hard and starting as early as you can is the best idea

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Regarding Cells at work, should the start date be the 26th of November (3 weeks from now, with 1 week inbetween that and hxh) or the 3rd of December (to give a full 4 weeks before the start)?

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The 26th would be the conventional start date. We generally have that one week gap before starting the next book.

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Hello, I am really new here and I try to read some books then I find this thread. So Should I wait for a new book or start with Huner X Hunter? Do you have any ideas for reading book strategies or something like that? Thanks in advance :slight_smile:

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Hi, @Gunnleif!

Sorry about the hours before getting a response up to you; just been a busier day for me.

You could start with Hunter x Hunter and just use the threads and existing resources, but this week is technically the last week of the book club, so you would no longer be reading along with a live group (though often, the people who were in the club will still have those threads tracked, so if you have any questions, they will be happy to answer them!). If you enjoy Hunter x Hunter as a series, then it’s a great place to start. Otherwise, the next pick, Cells at Work! starts on the 26th of November, if you want to read along with a live group. :grin:

As far as strategies, the biggest thing to remember is that when you first start out reading, it’s not going to feel like reading so much as like a puzzle that you have to work through. It’s going to be difficult and take a lot of work, but it’s so worth the effort. I credit the book clubs here with making it possible for me to learn Japanese to the level that I have, as they really gave me a much-needed boost and allowed me to get so much exposure to native Japanese material.

There are a number of resources that are great for helping you while you get started reading, but rather than type it all out again, I’ll just link you to the post I made in the Hunter x Hunter thread where I did a bit of a quick “things you need to know when you start reading” post:

Along with @ChristopherFritz’s excellent addition:

If you have any other questions, definitely feel free to ask! We’re always happy to help around here. :grin:

As far as other potential clubs to join, if you feel like Cells at Work! might be a bit of a big bite, we also have some book clubs that were spin-offs from the ABBC originally that might be a little bit easier to ease into:

  • Not technically an ABBC pick, but I know よつばと! is very popular, though I haven’t read it myself!

  • Teasing Master Takagi-san, which is the first book club I joined, and the first manga I’ve ever completed. We are on Volume 9 now, but one of the nice thing about this series is that it doesn’t actually happen in chronological order; it’s just a bunch of slice-of-life vignettes, so you can really pick up the book at any point in the series. I know of one person who is both reading along with the older volumes, and reading along with the club in real-time, also! It’s also relatively simple Japanese, and a bit more natural speech than some other manga.

  • それでも歩は寄せてくる is by the same author as Teasing Master Takagi-san; it is a little bit tougher than Takagi-san, though not by much, and is also a lot of fun! It is definitely a bit more linear than Takagi-san though, so you don’t want to jump into later volumes without having read earlier ones, I feel.

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I really want to read cells at work, but my Japanese level is definitely way too low. Maybe I’ll be able to try one day though lol

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It’s definitely a tougher pick for the ABBC, but that is why @Gorbit99 has decided to implement grammar sheets for both Hunter x Hunter and Cells at Work!; both of these are maybe a little higher level of difficulty than we would usually tackle in this club, but between the vocabulary sheet and grammar sheet, the idea was to make something that’s a little tougher more accessible. Hunter x Hunter definitely seemed to be a relatively successful book club from my monitoring and comparing it to previous clubs, with not too much of a drop in readership (percentage-wise). I think the only thing I noticed was that there was less discussion and questions being asked – I do wonder if some of that isn’t because the grammar sheet answered most questions, though.

It is a little harder to judge in general, as a whole, though, as I think the forums have overall had a decent decline in the number of visitors since the times of, say, Takagi-san. Which makes sense. Covid had a lot more people with a lot more free time for quite a while, and now things have (somewhat) normalized.

Regardless, I have faith Cells At Work! will still have a fairly healthy reader group, and even if you don’t read it now, the threads and sheets can act as a resource for you in the future!

In the meantime, you can always try your hand at something that you think might be more attainable for you by checking out some of the previous picks (and their subsequent spin-offs) to see if they would be more your speed! The important thing is that you read something you can both enjoy and learn from!

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I do recommend giving it a try, it will be quite painful, but it always will at first. But gotta remember, book clubs aren’t promises, you can stop midway through and pick it back up, when you’re more comfortable with it.

My theory is that later on, as the reading goes along, mostly people with more grammar knowledge remain. So most questions from a point onwards revolve around the book and not questions about the language. And with that HxH just had less to talk about.

I think one of the easiest recent book club was happiness, it’s relatively low in text density, only having especially hard parts in the beginning. And there are translations throughout the whole thing for the entire chapter.

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Hi, みんなさま!

We have about 8 weeks until Cells at Work! finishes up, so it’s time to start looking towards what we should be reading next! :grin:

We currently have 13 active nominations, which means, due to the limits of the polls, we have 7 slots left that we can fill with nominations! If you have had your eye on a manga or short book that you feel would be a great fit for the club, please put up your nominations!

When nominating, please take the time to refresh yourself on the guidelines for nomination!
  • Nominate something you are ready to read
    • This is a big cooperative group, but there’s always a minority keeping things active. If your pick wins, there will be some expectation that you contribute throughout.
    • If you can’t read your own sample pages (at least mostly) you may not be able to judge the difficulty effectively, and won’t be able to help others much.
  • Books nominated must not be longer than 100 pages (of text)
    • Our reading pace means this is the longest we could tackle within a reasonable time-frame.
    • A book of short stories can be longer: we will only pick select stories.
  • Do not nominate anything clearly NSFW
    • This can be hard to judge without reading the book, but if you’d associate the work with fanservice or gore, even if just by reputation, please don’t suggest it for this group.
  • Furigana does not imply something is easy

A couple of quick notes about these guidelines:

  • While it is preferred that if you nominate a book, you run the thread for it, it is not strictly necessary. In the event that you can’t run the thread, please just state as such in the nomination post, and I will happily find a volunteer who would be willing to run it if the nomination should be selected. But! I assure you that running the threads really isn’t that difficult, nor too much of a time commitment, and if you have any questions, there is a very supportive community here who will be happy to help you figure everything out!
  • Regarding the page count, with manga, if the page count is technically over 100 pages, I wouldn’t stress too much about it, so long as we can reasonably schedule it to fit within the average timeframe for finishing up a book club. That length restriction applies more firmly to books, simply because there’s a lot more text in prose than comics! :grin: As an example, one of the previous manga selected for this club was からかい上手の高木さん, which technically has a page count of ~155 (counting the おまけ); however, because many of those pages are just images, and the dialogue is relatively light, it was still simple to make it work with the scheduling and not overwhelm new readers! So, don’t hesitate to nominate manga that technically break the page count, within reason! :grin:

Also please remember to submit all nominations utilizing the proposal template in the parent post of this topic!

I will be putting up the next book poll in two weeks, so please have your submissions in by 2022-12-31T07:00:00Z!

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ホリミヤ (Horimiya)

Summary

Taken from MAL:

On the surface, the thought of Kyouko Hori and Izumi Miyamura getting along would be the last thing in people’s minds. After all, Hori has a perfect combination of beauty and brains, while Miyamura appears meek and distant to his fellow classmates. However, a fateful meeting between the two lays both of their hidden selves bare. Even though she is popular at school, Hori has little time to socialize with her friends due to housework. On the other hand, Miyamura lives under the noses of his peers, his body bearing secret tattoos and piercings that make him look like a gentle delinquent.

Having opposite personalities yet sharing odd similarities, the two quickly become friends and often spend time together in Hori’s home. As they both emerge from their shells, they share with each other a side of themselves concealed from the outside world.

Availability

Physical: Amazon JPCDJapan

Digital: Amazon JPBookwalker

Personal Opinion

It actually took me a bit of flipping through my reading list to find something that I felt would be suitable for this club, but I think I found it with this pick! I think it’s a good fit because it’s a nice, fun read without too much difficulty. As a slice-of-life manga (with progression!), it has a lot of daily-use speech, and the grammar is straightforward and simple. It’s rated a touch higher than some previous picks at level 21 on Natively, but is still more than achievable!

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Kanji has furigana!
  • Grammar is simple; nothing crazy that I’ve spotted
  • Book length is easily within our usual bounds
  • Just a nice, funny read! Nothing heavy (could also be a con if that’s what people are looking for)
  • The main series is finished, so there is a goal to strive towards in finishing the series (though there is also an Omake series currently running for those who would want more!)
  • Artwork is just adorable (personal opinion, but it’s got a charm to it that I love!)
  • Popular anime, and an English translation of the manga for those who like to compare side-by-side.
  • Forgot to list this at first, but if you have Kindle Unlimited, you already have access to the first volume!

Cons

  • Longer chapters mean we’ll be splitting up chapters quite often (generally there are decent breakpoints from what I’ve been able to see, though).
  • The author really likes to utilize the small background text to make jokes fairly often, and that is handwritten, so could be a little more difficult to parse for newer readers/readers who are only comfortable with standard fonts
  • Text density can occasionally be a bit heavy, but nothing too crazy

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One

Additional Pages

The next 3 pages of Chapter 1 are pretty representative of what you can expect to run into. You can view a preview of the book here.

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Substantial effort
  • So much effort my head might explode :exploding_head:
  • I don’t know

0 voters

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The text is so small. :face_exhaling:

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I think that’s more the fault of the screenshot format than anything; when I view the actual preview, it’s no worse than any other digital manga I’ve read. (Well, some of the background text is a bit smaller than I’m used to, but still legible).

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Slam Dunk (スラムダンク)

Summary

Taken from MAL:

Hanamichi Sakuragi, infamous for his temper, massive height, and fire-red hair, enrolls in Shohoku High, hoping to finally get a girlfriend and break his record of being rejected 50 consecutive times in middle school. His notoriety precedes him, however, leading to him being avoided by most students. Soon, after certain events, Hanamichi is left with two unwavering thoughts: “I hate basketball,” and “I desperately need a girlfriend.”

One day, a girl named Haruko Akagi approaches him without any knowledge of his troublemaking ways and asks him if he likes basketball. Hanamichi immediately falls head over heels in love with her, blurting out a fervent affirmative. She then leads him to the gymnasium, where she asks him if he can do a slam dunk. In an attempt to impress Haruko, he makes the leap, but overshoots, instead slamming his head straight into the blackboard. When Haruko informs the basketball team’s captain of Hanamichi’s near-inhuman physical capabilities, he slowly finds himself drawn into the camaraderie and competition of the sport he had previously held resentment for.

Personal Opinion

The first few volumes are limited furigana wise, but is very readable for new learners. The dialogue is fun and the vocab is easy enough. You can enjoy it in it’s entirety without being a Japanese expert and the pacing feels good. Its level 23 on Natively but I think its a good fit for ABBC because if you do keep with the series they add furigana and it gets easier to read with time. Its also one of the greatest manga of all time by one of the best mangaka of all time… So a great motivator to keep reading and find high quality content with a low bar for entry.

Pros

  • Limited furigana but easy to read kanji.
  • Easy grammar and words.
  • Good pacing and encouraging if you feel you’re a slow reader.
  • Excellent characters that feel like real people.

Cons

  • Limited furigana in the first couple volumes.
  • Some slang can be hard to understand but good to know.
  • Text heavy in some areas in the beginning.

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Substantial effort
  • So much effort my head might explode :exploding_head:
  • I don’t know

0 voters

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Thanks for the submission! Do you happen to know if there are digital copies available for that manga? I’m having trouble tracking one down to try and grab some previews. :joy:

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I don’t think they exist but they had been republished fairly recently.

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I take it back… they exist but not officially if you catch my drift.

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ルリドラゴン ・ Ruri Dragon

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Summary

Availability

Physical: Amazon JPCDJapan

Digital: KindleKoboBOOK☆WALKER

Personal Opinion

I like cute things. I like absurd things. Enter Ruri Dragon.

As far as premises go, this seems like a fantastic combination of “cute” and “absurd”. And despite the abnormal situation, it seems like it’s mostly a slice-of-life set at a school, so it hopefully it isn’t too hard and has useful daily life vocab.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Slice-of-life + school setting
  • …with a cute half-dragon girl!
  • Furigana
  • Generally not too much text per page, with most speech bubbles on the shorter side
  • Natively L20
  • 25 minutes of official voiced-over manga on YouTube (here, plus the two following videos in the playlist - there are gaps in the story between the videos) to train your listening comprehension!

Cons

  • First part of a series currently on “indefinite hiatus” due to author’s poor health :cry:

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One



Additional Pages









Two pages from school later:


The page with the longest sentences/speech bubbles I found in the preview:

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Substantial effort
  • So much effort my head might explode :exploding_head:
  • I don’t know

0 voters

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Gotcha! If you could snag some photos of the first few pages (assuming you own it/have a way to do so), I would appreciate it! It makes it easier for folks (it’s me; I’m folks. :joy:) to judge how difficult it would be for them to read! :grin:

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First three chapters available for free on Shonen Jump Plus - pretty sure it used to be all six, but I guess they removed some. You can get all six in English on the Viz website, though.

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