Absolute Beginners Book Club // Now Reading: Tamamo no Koi!

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.


We all start somewhere! Welcome!

You’ll see the current book title in the first post. There’s a link there to the main thread for that specific book (currently Stories of the Japanese Prefectures). In that thread, there will be a start date and a schedule for which pages are read each week, along with links to the discussion threads for each week. In the discussion threads, people will post their questions from the reading for that week, discuss the plot and their opinions on the book so far, post their tentative translations of sections they had trouble with for feedback etc. There will also be a reader populated vocabulary list there so that we can help each other with new words that come up.

This thread is mainly where we nominate books and vote on which book will be next. That vote is done a while (weeks? I think maybe a month? Don’t quite remember) before the current book club ends, so that people who want paper copies of the book have time to order and receive them. In the first post, you’ll see a list of currently nominated books. You can also add posts to nominate new books. When it’s time to vote, the thread name gets changed to ‘now voting’ and people look through the nominations to vote for a book they’re interested in reading.

As far as where to get started, you have some choices:

  • my understanding (I’m not reading along with this one) is that the prefecture stories are a collection of short stories - so if you wanted to buy a copy, you could jump in to the current week when it arrived - that club goes until august, which should be plenty of time for a copy to arrive and you to read some of it with the book club
  • you could wait for the next vote and book to start
  • you could choose any of the past books/manga listed in the first post and read them yourself, using the discussion threads to help you answer questions. Often people are still watching those threads, so if you post questions in them, you may still get responses to help out.

When I started reading, I started with a past book pick (can’t recall what off the top of my head), and then jumped into the next book (and then jumped out pretty fast - Shirokuma cafe wasn’t really my style and I wasn’t enjoying it - but have gone on to read more, both with and without the book clubs).

Hope that’s a bit helpful - welcome to reading! It’s hard work, but lots of fun!


Excellent, thank you! I will probably skip this one as I only really want to read digital copies.

I did buy Happiness a while ago with the intention to start reading it so may pick this up and read through the old thread.

Thanks for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate the explanation and I look forward to being part of the club!


If you do decide to read Happiness, there’s also an off shoot club reading through the whole series.


This was just brought up in the BBC, that the poll template we are using for judging difficulty is actually a bit outdated. Should we consider changing the poll template to the same standard used by the BBC for nominations going forward?

For those who have not seen the differences in the options, this is what that poll looks like:

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • 1 - No effort at all
  • 2 - Minimal effort
  • 3 - Moderate effort
  • 4 - Substantial effort
  • 5 - So much effort my head might explode :exploding_head:
  • I don’t know
0 voters

Personal thoughts, I do find the “effort-based” poll used by the BBC to be a little easier to answer; it feels slightly less nebulous than the “just right/challenging” line, and certainly less disparaging than the “impossible” option.

I’m not totally sure who is in charge of that decision here, so figured I’d post this, so that it was at least brought up! :grin:

Maybe a poll to vote on whether we update is in order?

Edit: In retrospect, I should have realized that @Micki is probably the best one to tag for this, given that you’ve run the past few polls… :sweat_smile: Sorry about that! I promise I haven’t forgotten you, or meant any slights by not realizing that, my brain’s just not the best at times! :laughing:


And also IBC and ABC :upside_down_face:

That was exactly our thought process when we changed the options. Glad to see that you also perceive them the same!


I’d just change it. The one we have was just copied from BBC when emucat set up the thread. Do you mind making the change in the OP? Existing nominations could just stay as they are they are. :+1:


There are also things like underestimation - number of pages per chapter / week might make it easier, but not so perfect. The best way to know is still… try to finish a first chapter.

1 Like

Sounds good to me! Change is made!


I need to take a step back from organising the Absolute Beginner Book Club thread. Could someone offer to take over please?

This involves:

  • Organising the polls for the next book - to be completed 6 weeks before the next book is due to start
  • Ensuring a volunteer is allocated to run each book (you don’t have to run them all yourself though)
  • Asking for nominations for new books in the week or two leading up to the poll
  • Making sure nominations are made using the standard format including a poll for people to rate difficulty
  • Ensuring the opening post of this thread is kept up to date. Also update the Master List of Book Clubs on what we are planning to read.
  • Updating the title of this thread (or asking a regular who has permission to do this), in particular to highlight when we are seeking nominations or undertaking a poll.
  • Addressing any issues that come up (e.g. is a nominated book too difficult for ABBC) either by leading discussion with book club members, creating a poll, or occasionally just making an executive decision!

The next book is due to start on Aug 27, so we need a call for nominations around the end of June, and a poll to be completed by July 15.


If nobody else steps forward to do it, I can probably do it. I’m only running one offshoot club that isn’t particularly time-intensive. :smile:

I do have a trip coming up at the end of the month, but I would still have time to hop on and do polls and calls for nominations. But if there is somebody else who is dying to run it, pick them over me. :grin:


Thanks @MrGeneric, I’m glad you’re happy to do it. I’ve really appreciated all your contributions to this club over the last year or so. It’s good to have someone enthusiastic taking it over!


Greetings from the airport everyone! Layovers are no fun, but at least they offer a good opportunity for getting some things done!

I’m posting the call for nominations a couple days earlier than I initially intended, mostly because I don’t know how busy I’ll get over the weekend, and I’d rather be early than late! :grin:

If my current count is correct, I believe we currently have 11 out of 20 possible nomination slots filled, meaning we still have room for up to 9 more nominations!

If you have a book or a manga in mind that you think would be a good fit for the club, please nominate it! The more variety we have to choose from, the better, I think!

Just as a reminder, when nominating, please keep in mind the guidelines on proposing books:
  • 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 make sure your nomination post utilizes the template posted in the OP of this thread! This template is in the dropdown labeled: “Proposal Template” below the Proposed Books section. If you have any questions about this, please feel free to ask, and someone here will be happy to help! :grin:

With that in mind, this post is just to give everyone a little reminder to get any nominations they may have posted soon!

I will be posting the poll with all the current nominations on the 8th of July, to give everyone about a week to vote (since we want the poll to be completed by the 15th) for what they would like to read. If you would like your nomination to make it into that poll, please do your best to have it in by ~2 days before that (6th of July).

This will give everyone time to vote in the difficulty poll for the nomination, so that I have a number to assign to it for the final poll. If you don’t make the deadline, that’s okay, we will still consider the nomination, it will just likely get pushed to the next round! :grin: (See: my own nomination, which I posted far too late for the most recent nomination polls, but which will be in this round! :laughing:)