'Advanced' Bookclub (checking for interest)

Wanted to do a quick poll to find out how much interest there would be here for an advanced level bookclub along the same lines of the existing Beginner/Intermediate clubs, which are helpful, but stop at about N3 level. The idea would be to get through a certain number of pages a week, and then discuss them on the forums. The books would be chosen by group poll, with a focus on more literary texts, and one or more of the members would commit to providing vocab lists and maybe grammar points to ease progress.

Without asking for a specific commitment at this stage, how many forum members would be interested if I were to set something up along those lines?

  • Yes, I am interested
  • No, I am not interested

0 voters

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That should keep you going for a while. :stuck_out_tongue:

But seriously, though, what did you have in mind when you said “more literary texts”? Like, 源氏物語, or 吾輩は猫である, or 百人一首? Or something more like ハリーポッター or 白鯨?

I mean, I’ll probably sit out either way. Just curious.

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While I’m principally interested in all kinds of reading, I’m simply not quite there yet. Maybe in a year or so. :wink:

I hope you manage to get something going though! Book clubs are great for motivation and recs.

Hah - I do keep encountering a group of bible peddlars outside Shibuya station, although most of the volunteers seem to be Caucasian, which makes me wonder where their funding comes from…

Would be aiming for established modern or contemporary fiction from Japanese authors. Genji uses medieval Japanese which most native speakers can’t even understand, so I’m not touching that one. Soseki isn’t quite as bad but you can still expect a lot of archaic structure/vocab which is a) not especially helpful for improving your Japanese now and b) generally just a pain in the arse.

Some authors that I’ve been trying to read recently and who I think would be more appropriate for a club like this have included Haruki Murakami, Yoko Tawada, Yasunari Kawabata and the like.

I think the whole thing can be viewed very similarly to how period affects the difficulty of English language texts - post-war authors like Ballard or Roth can be read without too much grief, whereas a 19th century author like Dickens might require you to consult a dictionary/wikipedia once in a while, and Chaucer you really need some kind of running translation from Old English → English.


This doesnt seem to be true. Native materials dont really compare well to N levels.

Perhaps naming this the Literature Club will draw in your target audience more effectively.


Apologies, not trying to throw shade at the other groups, just going by what’s written in the round-up in the other thread (Master List of Book Clubs). Fully agree with you that the JLPT is of limited usefulness for assessing aptitude, but I think it’s a reasonable heuristic for what is just a head-count at this stage.

You could be right that ‘Literarure Club’ is a better moniker - I only worry that it can sound a little self-important and leaves people unsure about what ‘counts’ as literature.


So, the intermediate book club does aim for N3 members, but as @SoraR native material doesn’t have that kind of limitation. What it means is that we have (had?) literature being nominated for voting (I remember Murakami being in there, specifically). The only thing that makes it “N3” is that we limit the number of pages per week to account for the time it would take for someone of that level to look up words and grammar. A group at the N2+ level would probably pick a similar range of books, but would read faster.

In any case, I’d be interested to join :slight_smile:


I’ll join but I would prefer not to read any translations, or anything pre-20th century.


Hey! I renamed the title of the thread to make it clear this wasn’t a book club (yet). Also, when you make a poll like this, you should tick the checkbox making voters public. As it is, you don’t actually know who’s interested.

I’m not personally interested at this time. I barely consider myself intermediate level and have a huge gap in N3 grammar. I’m going to be participating in the intermediate book club this time around, but I’m not sure I can even handle that yet.

I’d recommend figuring out two thing before moving forward.

  1. Do you want to suggest a specific book or make another recurring book club? Those require two completely different levels of dedication. With the former, you can pick a book you want, and you can test the waters fairly soon. With the latter, you have to organize something consistently, set up guidelines for what to nominate and paces to read at, etc. it requires a lot more effort.
  2. If you do choose to make a recurring book club, do you want this to basically be the intermediate book club but faster (as @Naphthalene said)? Effectively this means a lot of novels / light novels (fiction). Or do you want to pick a specific type of book (whatever “literary” means to you) and focus on those? For that you’d probably want to come up with several examples of the kinds of books you want to read.

Wow, that was way more long winded than I had intended. Sorry about that!


I would love to join :slight_smile: (how many book clubs am i going to join?! I think the descent to durtle heaven has really messed with my mind)
For faster reading theres already the 多読 club, so i think focusing on “non-light” novels would be best. Actually i thought about suggesting a book club like this once we’re done with キノの旅, so im glad someone else had the same thought :slight_smile:

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I don’t know that I have the time right now, but this sounds potentially up my alley. I personally am interested in stuff like

(I own several recent winners, with the aspiration of reading them at some point.)

I use a similar tactic when looking for English books to read, that is, see what literary awards have recognized as some of the best stuff. I’ve had good results with Booker winners (and nominees).

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I rarely leave the bookclub threads, and generally hate going off topic (sorry everyone), but I had to address this…

Their funding, if they are not self-funding, probably comes from the same place as if they were any other ethnicity / race… their church and its members.

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Hi Sean,

Many thanks for your suggestions and helpful edits. I could certainly have been clearer in outlining the type of bookclub I had in mind.

As I mentioned in my reply to Belthazar, the books that I myself am most interested in reading could be described as modern and contemporary literary fiction, and I agree with daines that looking at prize winners/nominees might be a good place to start - although I’m sure that many would-be participants are likely to have a few authors of their own in mind that they’d like to read.

To be honest I was initially just looking to see if anyone was interested in reading, specifically, Kawabata’s ‘Meijin’, along with me - preferably someone with a tighter grasp on the language who could guide me though any rough spots! - but on the other hand I do think it would be nice if there were a reading club that catered to those with an interest in more established literary works, and I don’t mind putting in some work that way, so long as I’m not the only person able or willing to do so.

Tentatively I would suggest that we make a thread where those of us who are interested can propose and vote on different books to read, with the person who put forward the selected book taking on primary responsibility for managing the group for the period that we’re all reading it. On the other hand, I’m not as experienced or active a member as others here, so I’m very open to suggestions if people are willing to offer them.


I’ve been hoping for awhile that an ‘advanced’ bookclub would essentially be the same level as the Intermediate just faster, but I’m kinda planning on maybe starting that in a few months anyway. As for a group more about reading modern literature, eeehhh? I guess not? Japanese is enough of a struggle that I think I prefer to read high-concept trash instead of real classics and award winners.
But it all depends on what would win.



There’s an in between option as well. You could always run a very specific book reading for Kawabata’s Meijin, and then if it’s successful you could rebrand it as part of an advanced book club. That’s basically what the Absolute Beginner Book Club did.


I feel like clarifying this a bit more. I haven’t been a good reader (of fiction) for many years, but when I was I felt like…

For me there are two types of “good” fiction books.

  1. High concept that I can enjoy despite how it might be written because there are, well, fun concepts, and also dragons and robots.
  2. Low concept that I can enjoy because of execution, but specifically because of the prose, because I can really nerd out on an artistic turn of phrase.

I don’t feel equipped to appreciate #2 in Japanese, so I’m pretty much sticking to #1.


Hey man, that’s cool, you do you - not out here to disparage anyone’s choices. I’m only trying to fill what looks like a gap in the Wanikani reading club market.

I’m definitely interested, no matter if contemporary literature or classics (as in: the last 120-ish years, not Genji Monogatari or Kojiki or something).

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I’m definitely interested. I already read a lot of Japanese fiction, mostly dark fiction and crime fiction (Natsuo Kirino, Kanae Minato, Keigo Higashino, etc…) and would love to discover more writers and read more books!


No? We should broaden our horizons.

It doesn’t look THAT hard to read, does it? :stuck_out_tongue: