Upcoming Book: 一週間フレンズ ・ One Week Friends
Current Book: 銭天堂 - ふしぎ駄菓子屋
Links to Discussion Threads
Book 1 | よつばと！ ***
Book 2 | 魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service)
Book 3 | Aria; Masterpiece Edition ***
Book 4 | のんのんびより
Book 5 | 夏目友人帳 (Natsume’s Book of Friends)
Book 6 | 時をかける少女 (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time)
Book 7 | 少女終末旅行 (Girls’ Last Tour) ***
*** now continuing in their own book clubs
About this Book Club
Welcome to our Japanese book club for beginners! In this club we choose a Japanese book, read it together, and discuss what we’ve read. That can be questions about vocabulary and grammar, meaningful discussion on the content, or just motivating each other to keep going.
We hope that eventually you’ll be able to take the jump to the Intermediate Book Club
If you’re interested, just grab a copy of the upcoming book (we usually vote 5-6 weeks before finishing the current pick) and join in the discussion! If you’re reading a previously selected book with the help of the old discussion threads please feel welcome to ask new questions
Which Book Club?
This book club is for people who are beginning to read native Japanese books and manga, rather than beginners to Japanese. You’ll want a solid understanding of N5 grammar and some understanding of N4, or at least a willingness to put in a bit more effort - remember that your fellow book club members will be there to help you out!
Try checking out the sample pages provided with nominations: links below under
Current Proposals or near the top of this post if you’d like to look at the upcoming pick.
If you’re not at this level yet, check out the Absolute Beginner Book Club, which generally reads material aimed at younger children.
If you’re well above this level, consider trying the Intermediate Book Club.
Any suggestions are welcome, so feel free to nominate something you’d like to read using the template below! Books suggested must be appropriate for relative beginners though; please read the guidelines before making a nomination.
Guidelines for 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’ll be some expectation that you contribute.
- If you can’t mostly read your own sample pages you may not be able to judge the difficulty effectively, and won’t be able to help others much.
Books must not be longer than 200 pages
- Our reading pace means this is the longest we could tackle within a reasonable timeframe (ideally no more than 16 weeks), but if the book is dense it will need to be even shorter.
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 please don’t suggest it for this group as we try to maintain a wide appeal.
Furigana does not imply something is easy (or vice versa)
- It’s useful to note the presence or absence of furigana in your nomination, but don’t equate it directly with difficulty: it’s a factor.
It must be readily available to purchase
- Please don’t nominate anything which people will have difficulty finding.
- Ideally there should be an eBook version available as well as physical.
Try to pick something reasonably well-known
- This will increase the reader pool as more people will be interested / already have a copy, and some might be more willing to take part if they can easily sell the book on after reading.
- The overall premise is probably widely understood and some may have read (or watched) it before, making it easier for readers to understand the content from context and to help each other out.
Slice-of-life and drama is safer than fantasy
- Slice-of-life and drama tend to focus on human interaction in a real-life setting, providing both a low barrier to entry and high returns on time invested.
- Fantasy and sci-fi often feature info-dumps and long monologues, which are difficult and off-putting for beginners, as well as niche, esoteric and even unique vocabulary.
- There are of course always exceptions, both ways.
Copy this template into a new post when proposing a book/manga.
For page samples, you can either take photos of your own copy (try to make the three additional pages ‘representative’ if possible), grab photos from the internet, or use previews from e.g. Amazon, BookWalker, eBookJapan. Make sure the text is legible!
# Insert Title Here
Insert summary from Amazon/Wikipedia/MyAnimeList/wherever here.
Insert link to book on amazon.co.jp here.
Insert link(s) to ebook here, or mention if an ebook is not available.
## Personal Opinion
Insert why you think this book would be good to read, personally and for the book club here.
### Pros and Cons for the Book Club
* Insert pros here.
* Insert cons here.
[details=“First Three Pages of Chapter One”]
Insert images here (can be photos from you or the internet, or from ebook previews).
Insert a few more images here - try to make them representative.
## Difficulty Poll
How much effort would you need to read this book?
[poll type=regular public=true]
* No effort at all
* Minimal effort
* Just right
* Impossible, even with everyone’s help
* I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)
List of Removed Nominations
|おおかみこどもの雨と雪||Too long (270 pages)
Moved to the intermediate book club
|キノの旅||Too hard (score of 3.38) / long (213 pages)
Moved to the intermediate book club
|ご注文はうさぎですか||Too hard (score of 3.47)
Misc discussion available
|放浪息子||Misc discussion available|
|トラちゃん||Too hard (score of 3.58)|
|日本昔ばなしアニメ絵本 18冊全巻セット||Moved to the absolute beginners’ club|
|あたしンち||Moved to the absolute beginners’ club|
|しろくまカフェ||Read by the absolute beginners’ club|
|チーズスイートホーム||Read by the absolute beginners’ club|
The nomination posts linked under each entry will give you further information, including sample pages.
Difficulty is scored from the average of votes cast by book club members; each nomination has a poll.
Last updated: 2019-06-26
Manga - Nordic Girl Åsa Discovers the Mysteries of Japan
Convenience store onigiri are way too handy! Why is it that Japanese girls can call just about anything “cute?” The guys at host bars are so hot, they’re like real-life anime characters! These are only some of the mysteries Swedish manga artist Åsa Ekström discovers in this journal comic about her journey from Scandinavia to Japan, which is jam-packed with surprises and laughs!
Difficulty: 2.47 [15 votes]
Manga - Ao's Island and a Cat
The freshly graduated teacher Souta escapes the capital’s buzz and moves to a small island in the inland sea where he wants to start his first job. He is planning to live at his senpai’s place whom he knew from long ago, but when he gets there he discovers that senpai is not there; only his daughter and a cat. So he moves in with the two…
Difficulty: 2.62 [13 votes]
Manga - Fukaboku: Love Me For Who I Am
Mogumo, a student who goes to school wearing a girl’s uniform, is invited to work part time at a cafe one day. At first, Mogumo is happy about getting to work while wearing a cute uniform, but after learning the that the cafe is an “otoko no ko ” cafe…
Manga - Neighbourhood Story
Koda Mikako is a first year student in the Clothing Design department of the Yazawa Art Academy. She is working hard to accomplish her dream of becoming a designer and creating her own brand. This story depicts the relations of the friends and acquaintances who surround her, as well as her romance with Yamaguchi Tsutomu, who lives in the same building as her.
Difficulty: 2.70 [10 votes]
Manga - Laid-Back Camp
Rin likes to go camping by herself along the lakes that provide a scenic view of Mt. Fuji. Nadeshiko is determined to see Mt. Fuji after just moving to the area. After they meet, Rin and Nadeshiko take camping trips, eat cup ramen together, and enjoy the scenery.
Difficulty: 2.76 [21 votes]
Manga - Haikyuu!!
Junior HS student Shōyō Hinata gains a sudden love of volleyball after seeing a national championship match on TV. Although short in height, he becomes determined to follow in the footsteps of the “Little Giant”. However, his dreams are destroyed in his first official match, where his team suffers a crushing defeat against the championship favourites, including so-called “King of the Court” Tobio Kageyama. Hinata vows to defeat Kageyama, only for the two to wind up as unlikely team mates.
Difficulty: 2.63 [8 votes]
Manga - Naruto
With a richly detailed background, complex, sympathetic characters, superb action and a main character who somehow balances tragedy with comedy, this is a series that delivers in every way. So strap on your leaf headband and join the oddest ninja in town. You won’t regret it.
Difficulty: 2.79 [14 votes]
Manga - Dragonball (The Complete Edition)
Dragon Ball, initially inspired by the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West, follows the adventures of the protagonist Son Goku from his childhood through adulthood. He trains in martial arts and explores the world in search of the seven Dragon Balls, which summon a wish-granting dragon when gathered. Along his journey, Goku makes several friends and battles a wide variety of villains, many of whom also seek the Dragon Balls.
Difficulty: 2.94 [17 votes]
Manga - Attack on Titan
In this post-apocalytpic sci-fi story, humanity has been devastated by the bizarre, giant humanoids known as the Titans. Little is known about where they came from or why they are bent on consuming mankind. Seemingly unintelligent, they have roamed the world for years, killing everyone they see. For the past century, what’s left of man has hidden in a giant, three-walled city. People believe their 100-meter-high walls will protect them from the Titans, but the sudden appearance of an immense Titan is about to change everything. Winner of the 2011 Kodansha Manga Award (Shonen) and nominated for the prestigious Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize for 2012.
Manga - Great Detective Conan
Shinichi Kudou, a great mystery expert at only seventeen, gets into trouble after witnessing some disturbing illegal activity. Dosed with an experimental drug and left to die, he is astonished to live and wake up in the body of a seven-year-old. Hiding his identity, he takes on the alias of Conan Edogawa…
Difficulty: 3.33 [15 votes]
Book - Scary Lessons
A girl, Yomi - a creature without legs - leads us through a world of horror, which slumbers in the midst of everyday life and lies in wait to pounce on the unsuspecting. Terrible things will happen to anyone foolish enough to tangle with it!
Difficulty: 3.29 [21 votes]
Book - Mysterious Town Beyond the Mist
During the summer holidays, six-year-old Rina is sent on her own to stay in the village where her father stayed as a child. Getting off the train, the townspeople are only half convinced that her destination, the valley of mist, even exists. Following their uncertain directions she eventually finds her way, and her experiences over the summer with the eccentric residents help her to grow in confidence.
Book - Porepore Nikki!
Sometimes, I feel like I can’t understand myself. According to others, I may act really confident and then become timid right afterwards. I’m Asahina Yuzu and I have entered Ryuusei Academy Junior HS, which has the dance club I longed for and Ren-senpai. Ooi-chan is really cool. Momo-chan’s smile is cute enough to make friends with anyone. Am I the only one who doesn’t have any confidence? But! I’ll do my best to be selected for the dance club’s “galaxy” team! Friendship, love, club activities… it all starts from here! This is the start of my junior high school life!
Difficulty: 3.00 [19 votes]
Where to Purchase Books
This section explains where to buy Japanese books in general.
Purchasing Japanese Books
Note that you need a separate account for each ‘instance’ of Amazon, so you won’t be able to use Amazon JP with e.g. your French Amazon account. CDJapan has economy shipping options which take longer to arrive but cost less.
If you can’t find an online store that will ship to you, you can use a forwarding service like Tenso or White Rabbit Express. If you live in the right place, you may also be able to find the book at a local Japanese book store such as Kinokuniya; just Google your area.
- Amazon JP (Kindle-compatible)
- eBook Japan (doesn’t show tax until checkout; not Kindle-compatible)
- Book Walker (accepts paypal)
- Honto (mobile reader app is region-locked – on Android get an APK, on iOS use JP App Store; not Kindle-compatible)
If purchasing eBooks from Amazon JP gives you trouble, check out sirvorn’s wonderful guide on purchasing eBooks from Amazon JP.
"Next Book" Polls
Winner links go to the original nominations.
Poll to decide what to do when the winner is a short manga (~4-6 weeks of reading)
- Result: read first volume of winner, followed by first volume of runner-up
Poll to decide whether book club topics should be moved to the
- Result: move everything
Poll to decide how long “next book” polls should stay open
- Result: 1 week
Poll to decide how many votes “next book” polls should allow per user
- Result: no limit
Poll to decide whether to create a 2nd Book Club for beginners
- Result: yes!