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

„Now, that might sound a bit complicated and grammatical if the only clause you know is Santa“

Omg this is delicious :joy:
I might have to look into this site a little bit more, thanks for bringing it up! ^^

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Real-life example of a Japanese child learning grammar.

image

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That’s my issue exactly, especially if you’re not a native English speaker.

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Yeah, sorry, to be clear, I do think putting in at least some of the sentence would be good. By “Clause + noun,” I was just using those as placeholders because I didn’t have an example sentence on hand.

Borrowing しゃべる猫 from the link, maybe “Clause + 猫” or something to that effect if the sentence is too long (that way, they can see the noun which is being modified and presumably be able to put together that the clause is the preceding sentence fragment. Otherwise, if you think it fits fine, しゃべる + 猫 would work fine, type of thing. The issue is that relative clauses can get quite lengthy.

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Alright, let’s try that, it will probably improve as we go along with the book club

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The Beginner book club is currently polling on what to read next. If you want to challenge yourself, have a look at the nominees!

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Hey, I’m enjoying going through the first pages of Hunter x Hunter so far, and the grammar spreadsheet is probably the paramount help to the process. That being said, even from briefly going through the rest of the chapter by myself, the book seems to be pretty intense of an Absolute Beginners group? I know that the term Absolute Beginners isn’t to be taken literally, but given that the book has a Natively ranking of 30, which the site corresponds to an N2 ranking, doesn’t this seem a bit too difficult for the group?

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It’s odd hunter x hunter being in beginner book club

learnnatively classifies it as N2 level. I am finishing N2 in bunpro but even then I wouldn’t touch it so soon.

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I proposed it, because looking through it, there was (or at least seemed to be) less text on average, than in previous abbc picks. That, and because it’s a manga, with mostly spoken-like text, there aren’t many grammar points, that come up.
The natively score iirc is just the one that was either given by the site admins, or that was recommended when someone requested it, not sure which happened. Putting a jlpt level to a book is difficult, because grammar points tend to be equally used from all levels, but from personal reading experience, it’s definitely way easier to read and digest than a beginner level read.
It’s quite likely a bit harder than the average, but I don’t think it reaches beginner levels.
But yeah, the grammar sheet was my idea to make it a bit easier on those making this their first read.

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Adding to this, the Natively score is based in part on the initial score it started out with, and on ratings current from roughly four users. The more people who read the manga and compare it with other manga, the better Natively’s score will be. Maybe it should be lower or maybe it should be higher. Maybe it’s fairly accurate where it is. I encourage anyone who’s interested in helping improve Natively’s scores to sign up, add what they’ve read and are reading, and grade comparisons as best they can. (I imagine the series will get more gradings on Natively once the book club is over.)

As for book club nominations in general, there will always be deficiencies in what gets nominated and what gets voted on, so the hope is that the power of the community will help readers keep going.

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Btw, I did somewhat check this, the polls in each thread are a great way to measure drop off, and it seems to be about the same as the previous club. Activity in the threads is also quite similar, maybe a bit less, because there’s just less to talk about.

Overall I’m actually quite satisfied with how the club is turning out sofar. Engagement is alright, the vocab sheet is getting filled in, and I had multiple people say good things about the grammar sheet (even if filling out is a major pain in my backside)

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I imagine drop-off can be discouraging, but as you probably noticed it’s something that just happens. Many people are likely excited to read their first manga without realizing the time and learning involved.

Populating grammar sheet for pages one to three: “This isn’t so bad.”

Grammar sheet continued through page ten: “Phew, made it. That took a while.”

Grammar sheet continued through the end of chapter one: “I never want to do this ever again.”

Week two: “Will anyone notice if I quietly sweep the grammar sheet under the carpet and never mention it again?”

(Based on my own experience.)

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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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