Absolute Beginners Book Club // Now reading: Ruri Dragon // Next: The Wolf of the Small Forest

In fairness, Takagi-san threw some large blocks of text right from the first chapter here and there, and is rated higher than ギャルと恐竜. I just read through the Bookwalker preview on that one, and there would have to be a huge difficulty spike from there to make it a bad fit. It seems like it would be a great pick for difficulty. Though I confess, I would personally not read it because while it looks cute, I would likely very quickly get bored while reading it. That’s just me, though, and applies to a few of the books that are currently in the running! :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Yeah, that’s my reservation, for sure. The only furigana is for names, unfortunately, and even then, it shows you once, then moves on. The only reason why it feels like it might be okay is because the grammar is quite easy, and being a slice-of-life, the vocabulary is generally quite common. The Natively level for the book (default, without user grading) is 24, which is within range of the club (lower than the two current leads in the ongoing poll, which were rated as readable… though I suspect both are going to turn out to be harder reads than in the past, so we’ll have to see how it turns out for first time readers because most of our difficulty votes were from familiar faces!) even without furigana. It’s just in a weird place difficulty-wise; the lack of furigana is the only mitigating factor here, because it’s definitely way too easy for the BBC.

Nothing to apologize for; I was skeptical of it myself during the first little bit, because it felt like outright bullying as opposed to the lighter teasing I expected and it was more sexual than I initially expected as well, but I decided to give the series a chance. The tone definitely softens up as time goes on, but the first volume is not where that happens, for sure. You see glimpses of her kindness, but just the vaguest hints. The humour seems like it remains pretty similar (though starts to be toned down/it becomes more obvious that the MC isn’t opposed to the sexual stuff, just is easily flustered by it) through the first 3 volumes at least, though, so if it is something you don’t like at all, the series probably just isn’t for you, frankly, which was why I have held off so far; I try to pick things that I think will be generally more widely appealing because I don’t want people to feel like they have to skip a pick because they find the content uncomfortable (as opposed to skipping a pick for time constraints/lack of interest in the subject matter).


*remembers that both of them are his*
*starts sweating profusely*

Btw, I don’t think they will be that bad, I sure am hoping that the interest will help overcome any difficulty.
For cells at work the main issue imo will be the explanation boxes, and those let off after chapter one.
Besides that I don’t think they are harder than Wadanohara was (now’s the time to mention that it was waaay to difficult :joy: ). I hope the interest will at least help overcome the difficult parts.


Hahaha, to be clear I don’t think they were bad picks, at all, either! Just that they might be a bit harder than some of the other reads.

I didn’t read Wadanohara, either. :sweat_smile: I’ve been kinda picky with what I read with this club, now that I think about it. :laughing:

If I was at all concerned they were too difficult, I would have said so when we were talking about them. I was just using them as the barometer to compare against with Aharen-san, so please don’t take it as me thinking they are gonna be too difficult. I agree that both should be fine! :grinning:


You are not referring to my lovely nomination here, are you? :rofl:
C’mon, I’m expecting a nicely laid out plot and a decent arc of suspense
perfectly suitable for a 5-year-old :crazy_face:


Tbf, that is the sort of story I would expect the absolute beginners to read normally. But if that was the case, I don’t think we’d have too many readers…


Yeah, I thought I’d give it a try and nominate it here, but I absolutely don’t blame anybody if the nomination gets dropped at some point.


Once I (eventually) finish reading Night Cafe (book one), I might just be looking for a much easier book to read =D


That is one I had considered reading along with before (other picks just caught my interest more, so I’ve yet to vote for it), but after having read Night Cafe and Oreshura, now it’s in the “if it gets picked and I have nothing else I want to fill my time with” pile. It wasn’t one of the selections I had in mind with my comment, anyhow. :wink:

It’s definitely a tough balance to find at this level, though, eh? How do we ensure books are accessible while still being entertaining enough to want to read them? Quite the conundrum at times, especially with all the varying interests!

I also fully admit I have a lower tolerance for stories aimed at younger children, so that’s probably part of my pickiness here. :wink: I don’t have any kids yet, so I haven’t built up the endurance some folks may have in engaging with media for young kids. :rofl:

Middle school as a target audience seems to be the line for me; Takagi-san and Ayumu are entertaining enough to keep my attention as light and refreshing reads, while Night Cafe is borderline (though I think that has more to do with the handicrafts than the target audience).

Edit: That is to say, people should still nominate things like this, imo. They are helpful when starting to read, for sure, and the most recent pick shows that they do get selected!


There’s also the phenomenon where when reading one’s very first native material ever, simply being able to read and understand something can make it more interesting than it would otherwise be.

But the trick is getting enough more experienced learners to join in and ensure any questions get answered.


Yeah, I think this was what kept me going through Night Cafe, tbh. I was a bit curious about the plot and the direction it would take, but if it were in English, the handicrafts sections would have meant I would give it a pass, for sure. Seeing all those instructions in Japanese and realizing that I could actually (mostly) follow along made it interesting enough to be worth reading, though! More cooking, less crafting, and I would probably have been even more interested, though. :wink: And while it wasn’t my first read, it was my first prose book that felt immediately attainable (even if it ultimately just turned out to be a mental block that Night Cafe removed, since I ended up going back to and finishing the first volume of Oreshura before the club even ended).

Yeah, that is definitely the trick. So far, it’s not been an issue, though! I think overall, it seems like the system is working as is. :grin:


Interestingly, they started reading こぐまのクーク物語 春と夏 in the 初級ブッククラブ book club last week on the Comprehensible Japanese site run by Yuki Kimura and I was thinking of joining. The book clubs are available to members only though (for a nominal $5 fee/month on Patreon).

I think a number of other people here on WK use that site for listening and reading practice (at the beginner to intermediate level) – Yuki is a super patient teacher (she even has a few videos with her teaching her young daughter to read (off-screen) which are cute).


Okay :sweat_smile:

I must say that’s a tricky question no matter the level, though :thinking:

I’m somewhat at the other end of the spectrum; my kids are grown-up and out of school already, so it’s not only that I don’t have the endurance to engage with media for young kids, I also don’t have any endurance any more regarding the flood of schoolchildren’s stories :joy: I mean, I’m just glad that I left this part of my life behind me for good :grin:

I’m happy that the Advanced Book Club members generally like a good murder mystery story, so we read quite a bunch of those, which is really nice. I mean they are usually not the epitome of literary quality, but nonetheless quite entertaining when written well.
The drawback is of course that they are books aimed at adults, so the language and words can be a bit more difficult (depending on the author), and often the books are quite long as well. So that’s not something we can easily carry over to the lower-level book clubs.
I usually try to nominate some shorter books of various topics written by good authors in the Intermediate Book Club, but those books are of course of a certain difficulty and I don’t see that those could go into the BBC, let alone the ABBC. So it seems that in this club we have no choice but to mainly choose books for children; either those that are for the sake of learning something, like the Biographies and the like, or easier manga and such. :woman_shrugging:


There could be some thinking done towards the direction of making slightly harder books more approachable instead of picking increasingly harder to find easy books. Stuff, like instead of just keeping a vocab sheet, also having a grammar sheet. I do find one of the bigger hurdles to overcome is figuring out what to search for in terms of a grammar point.
Also stuff like having a lower speed for more difficult books. I didn’t find a pointer about how many pages a week or how many words the abbc aims to read (tbh, I didn’t look for very long).
I think having like a translation for the weekly chapters that’s corrected if something isn’t right is already a big big help for the strugglers.


I don’t think there is a hard and fast rule, but with manga that I’ve read along with, it seems we trend towards 16 pages a week, but obviously text density and difficulty make a big impact on that. Both Takagi-san and Ayumu did fine at that pace (in Takagi-san’s case, that is one chapter a week on average. In Ayumu’s, it is two chapters, on average). But 三ツ星カラーズ ended up doing fewer pages per week because the content was difficult enough, it required going a bit slower.

The main thing about pacing is we try and finish within around 15-16 weeks at the maximum, from what I’ve seen (somebody can correct me if that is incorrect).

Some clubs finish up in less time than that, though. I’m guessing that Hunter x Hunter would be a shorter running club, based on the preview, whereas, to make the text density less of a beast, Cells At Work should probably run on the longer side. I’m just guessing based on the previews though. I haven’t purchased either to look at them more intently and see how they should be broken up.


That sounds like an interesting idea. The main question is, how overwhelming will it be to read more difficult books for those who are rather close to zero knowledge?
Or maybe it doesn’t matter too much anyway as at that stage basically everything will be overwhelming? :thinking:

I read along with the Biographies book, and there people would post the Japanese text and their translations on a daily basis, and others would look at it and correct mistakes or help along with questions. I thought that was a very good format already; do you have something different in mind here?

For the Biographies book, it was one page per day iirc which is quite a good pace (but the material was not that difficult to begin with, of course).

That’s another factor that needs to be considered; you don’t want to chew on the same book for ages and ages because if people drop out halfway through, then they’re left in a vacuum until the next book starts, and it would be really unfair if that dragged on for much more than 3 months.


Going a bit off-topic, as I was looking at the pace we did for Colors and for Rental Oniichan, and I just noticed how much traffic these book clubs have!



That’s a lot of clicks through to see the free previews!

If we were ever in that position, that’s where I think the idea of overlapping club reads would be a worthwhile consideration. Let a new club begin while an older one is still running. (But only in extreme length cases.)


That, on the other hand, would punish those who stick with the first club, don’t you think? Because all of a sudden their workload doubles if they want to read the next pick as well…

sigh Not easy, these considerations!


No pain, no gain!

Edit: To be serious, though, I think a much smaller number of people would be impacted negatively (those who didn’t drop out partway through the long pick), and a larger number impacted negatively by a long wait for the next pick (those who passed on the long pick or are a newcomer). Hard choices either way (unless we simply disavow anyone who brings in a long pick!)


As I see it, if you want to help someone jump over a barrier, you can either make that barrier smaller, therefore also reducing the sense of accomplishment, or you can grab their hands and help them jump. What is currently done is the former.

I quite liked the stories of the japanese prefectures prereading approach (obligatory link) where they literally went through the whole chapter line by line, breaking each of them down. I don’t think this is feasible for an entire book, but it’s rare that you see someone ask for a breakdown, and I think that’s because it doesn’t have a culture already.

What I started doing is for abbc book club, because I have the capacity, I translate each week’s reading into a message. I do regularly get mentions about that helping a ton, when either constructing their own translation, or just reading in general.


Good points that you are bringing up.

I guess we can only solve that on a case-by-case basis through polling right then and there; who knows, maybe the remaining readers would not even mind adding a second book to their list of reading chores? :woman_shrugging: