Advanced Japanese Book Club // Now reading: 海辺のカフカ

We already have 15 nominations :astonished:
(4 of which are missing from the OP; I should at least add mine :upside_down_face:)

4 Likes

新版 古文書用語辞典 (New Edition Dictionary of Classical Japanese)

Author: 佐藤 孝之 他1名 (よみがぜ んぜんわか
らない いちめいです)
Year: 2012

Summary

Summary

説明

一部戦国期を含む近世初頭から明治10年ごろまでの古文書にあらわれる語彙を精選・収載。類書中最大の一万二〇〇〇余の収録語数。文例にはわかりやすい現代語訳付き。八〇〇ページを超えるボリュームを、机上で使いやすいサイズに凝縮。

Length: 877 pages
Category: Long & suitable for “beachside leisure”

Availability

30,800 yen on Amazon.jp

Personal Opinion

While the author tends towards more old-fashioned language and often uses more complicated words than the reader may find necessary, helpful definitions and illustrations help the reader through this scintillating tale.

Clear breakup into different sections makes for stimulating reading with constant changes of topics and fast pacing. At times, the plot feels somewhat difficult to follow. However, careful reading is rewarded.

While I have not read any of this author’s other works, I can imagine that they would be equivalently verbose. The unnatural level of fascination with obscure words and the overall disinterest in character arcs or plot development provides the reader the glimpse of what a true post post post post post modern novel can achieve given true dedication to one’s vision. Overall, I think that this could be a very powerful group read.

Pros

  • lots of neat words
  • clear definitions neatly added in the book to aid the reader throught the story
  • beautiful language
  • beautiful typesetting
  • provocative rethinking of literature in modern times
    *Only 38,000 yen

Cons

  • 30,800 yen
  • minimal plot and character development
  • difficult words
  • too short for my tastes

Pictures/Sample

N/A

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

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

0 voters

18 Likes

Come on now.

7 Likes

We love a good short story collection.

うっせえぇ
<3

You coward. But!

It probably has the best reviews of anything that’s been nominated.

5 Likes

A bit apprehensive as this is my first time diving into the post post post post post modern; however, I’m not one to back down from a challenge.

11 Likes

picks up the gauntlet

薮の中・将軍 (角川文庫)

Author: 芥川 龍之介 (あくたがわりゅうのすけ)

Summary

Japanese

中国の一名画にまつわる伝説に取材、夢幻的芸術美の世界を描いた「秋山図」、文豪トルストイの強烈な個性をツルゲネフとの交遊の中に浮き彫りした「山鴫」、『今昔物語』に依拠して真理の絶対性への懐疑を卓抜な技巧的構成で提示した「藪の中」、神格化された一将軍の虚飾を剥ぐ「将軍」等、テーマ、スタイルに多彩を示す大正10年作品を収録。

English

Akutagawa wrote a series of short stories set in Heian period, Edo period or early Meiji period Japan. These stories reinterpreted classical works and historical incidents. He was a strong opponent of naturalism. Some of his short stories have more modern settings.

Length: 322 pages (but see reading suggestion below)
Category: hard&slow

Availability

Amazon
BookWalker
Aozora Bunko (free, but some are not rewritten in modern Japanese)

Personal Opinion

I watched the movie “Rashomon” by Akira Kurosawa which retells Akutagawa’s “In a Grove” (藪の中). (Interestingly, only the title and the frame scenes set in the Rashomon Gate are taken from his other short story “Rashomon”.) So I wanted to read 藪の中 and that’s how I ended up buying this book.

Also, the author is very renowned: He is regarded as the “Father of the Japanese short story” and Japan’s premier literary award, the Akutagawa Prize, is named after him.

For the reading club, I think the full book might be too long, but many of the short stories are less than 20 pages, which makes them ideal for a weekly reading assignment. It would be nice if we could pick a handful of the stories and read them together.

The stories in the book have been rewritten in modern Japanese; I did not research all of the Aozora stories though. The start of the first story in the book is identical on Aozora, but other Aozora stories use old Kana, so we’d need to check on a case-by-case basis.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Short stories :wink:
  • Adjustable length (because short stories)
  • Famous author
  • Some of the stories are translated to English (for those interested)

Cons

  • Stories from his later life are distinctly autobiographical (which might be depressing due to his deteriorating physical and mental health)
  • Some of his stories reinterpret classical works and historical incidents, which might be hard to fully understand without knowledge of these foundations.

Samples

See BookWalker preview and Aozora.

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

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

0 voters

7 Likes

This is one of Akutagawa’s works I’ve wanted to read for a little while now. :o Considered nominating it, but just a single short story didn’t seem like enough.

4 Likes

I think Leebo would be eager to join if we pick this one! :slight_smile:

11 Likes

I was thinking, we might even want to have a Read Aloud session for it! We could read it with distributed roles, e.g. one for the introductory keyword, one for the underpart of the grammar remarks, and one for the main part :slight_smile:

9 Likes

A what? :face_with_raised_eyebrow: . Like a zoom thingy?

Like a Discord thingy.

8 Likes

This is also new to me. Tried to download it, but it keeps saying that the update failed. Then tries again. :sweat_smile:

EDIT: the on and off worked :slight_smile:

1 Like

I just use Discord in the browser. :man_shrugging:

2 Likes

This sounds super interesting, but it’d definitely be a tougher read for me judging by the bookwalker samples. Also between the Kiki re-read, 百人一首, my own reading, and everyday life stuff, I think I’m finally understanding the “being in too many book clubs” feeling :sweat_smile:

So many of these books sound like great reads, and I’m all about challenging myself, but I wonder about my ability to stay up to date if I add another :scream:

5 Likes

Right? :blush::books: :sparkles:

Right? :broken_heart::cry:

I am also slowly realizing I may need to start ‘picking’ my book clubs. But a lot of times what starts as a neutral “eh, I don’t have particularly strong feelings about this one, so why not” read ends up really enjoyable. And there’s a lot of really interesting nominations here, so I really don’t want to. xD

Maybe I can just further de-prioritize other things… :thinking:

10 Likes

Oh hey, a book I already own!

I figured the “advanced” was shorthand for “advanced levels of enjoyment”.

14 Likes

Yesterday I was too busy to submit my promised daily nomination, but here it finally is!

アウト (OUT) 上

Author: 桐野夏生 (きりのなつお)

Summary

Japanese

ごく普通の主婦であった彼女たちがなぜ仲間の夫の死体をバラバラにしたのか!?

深夜の弁当工場で働く主婦たちは。それぞれの胸の内に得体の知れない不安と失望を抱えていた。「こんな暮らしから抜け出したい」そう心中で叫ぶ彼女たちの生活を外へ導いたのは、思いもよらぬ事件だった。なぜ彼女たちは、パート仲間が殺した夫の死体をバラバラにして捨てたのか?犯罪小説の到達点!

English

Why did these ordinary housewives scatter the dead body of their friend’s husband?

These housewives work the night shift at a bento factory. They hold an unknown anxiety and despair in their hearts. An unexpected case uncovers their lifestyles and their longing to break free from it. Why did they scatter the corpse of the husband of their friend? Find out in this crime novel!

Length: 456 pages
Category: easy&fast

Availability

Amazon
No ebook available.

Personal Opinion

The author was mentioned in a TheCultureTrip article, so I got interested. This book won the “Mystery Writers of Japan” award so I figured it can’t be wrong to try it :slight_smile:

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Crime novel (I think this is a popular genre)
  • Award-winning

Cons

  • Rather thick with 456 pages, plus the second part adds another 352 pages.
  • No ebook as far as I could see.

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One


Additional Pages


Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

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

0 voters

7 Likes

Thank you for notifying me!! That’s so nice of you!

I think it’ll be difficult for me to get my hands on any Japanese books short-term, so I’m not sure whether I will be able to join (on time). I’ll keep an eye on this thread though, so I can at least try to purchase the book you all choose!

8 Likes

Ding ding ding, it is time!
17 nominations?! That’s insane. Although, I have to admit, it’s much easier to write nominations for this club than for any other. Also, there’s probably more books I want to read here than I have votes to spare, which is always a good problem to have.

13 Likes

Clock strikes 12, thread turns back into a POLLmpkin.

We’ll let it run for at least 2 days, planning to close the poll 2020-07-12T03:00:00Z. We might extend it one more day through the weekend for folks who only log on Saturday/Sunday. You may choose up to five books.

See the original post for book descriptions.

  • 86―エイティシックス―
  • 本好きの下剋上
  • アウト (OUT) (上)
  • くま クマ 熊 ベアー
  • クォンタムデビルサーガ アバタールチューナーⅠ
  • 狼と香辛料
  • マスカレード・ホテル
  • 容疑者Xの献身
  • 風の谷のナウシカ
  • 海辺のカフカ(上)
  • 騎士団長殺し 第1部
  • すべてがFになる
  • 薮の中・将軍 (角川文庫)
  • 檸檬 (角川文庫)
  • 雪国
  • 風立ちぬ
  • 午後の曳航

0 voters

9 Likes