Beginner Japanese Book Club // Currently Reading: Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun

I think I’ll delete the old list of proposed books within the next couple weeks. So if anyone wants to renominate any of those books (before they forget what’s there), do it soon! (Not that you couldn’t go check the post history if you wanted…)

I do plan on renominating 時をかける少女, even if only so we can compare the average difficulty from its poll to the other nominations. But I think I’m going to intentionally hold off until after the next book is selected.

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It actually looks fairly easy. It’s one of the lowest word count on floflo, and this analysis that @jprspereira posted before also shows that kanji usage isn’t too crazy, plus 98% furigana coverage. (Which strikes me as strange, since the sample I have seen didn’t seem to have that much… maybe it’s because of different editions, floflo referes to that one as the “children’s book” edition or something similar)

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The version I have (角川つばさ文庫) is loaded with furigana.

Reading it has been challenging, but more because it takes time for me to establish context to interpret what’s happening than to parse sentences or recall meanings.

I’d put it more lower-intermediate than beginner, but it might still be worth nominating to see how everyone else feels. The first five pages are pretty representative of difficulty, but there’s an extra challenge when the writing jumps between scenes and you need to figure out what the context is now from some clues that don’t exactly match what you’ve read before.

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Yes, that’s the one they were talking about too.

The analysis website puts it as easiest, while (for comparison) Kiki is easy. YMMV

It’s supposed to be easy, but so was 魔女の宅急便 and best I can tell four people finished that book (one of which was LucasDesu). 時をかける少女 is likely a step between the beginner and intermediate book clubs, which is unfortunate. But if it gets nominated and people vote for it, then so be it. Especially since all votes going forward will at least be somewhat informed from the difficulty polls.

I believe this version has furigana next to all kanji.

放浪息子 (Wandering Son)

Summary

The story depicts a young student named Shuichi Nitori, described by the author as a transgender girl, and Shuichi’s friend Yoshino Takatsuki, described as a transgender boy. The series deals with issues such as being transgender, gender identity, and the beginning of puberty.

I was having trouble finding a good summary to put, but I settled on this one from Wikipedia

Availability

Amazon JP
eBookJapan

Personal Opinion

I watched the anime adaption, and found it to be really interesting and mature. It had some of the most realistic characters I had seen in an anime.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Unique story.
  • Strong character development.

Cons

  • Long series, so we’ll only get a taste of the overall story.
  • No furigana (though it doesn’t look like the kanji is that bad).
  • The premise could be a little niche.

Pictures

See pictures below or check out the 試し読み on the ebook page.

First Four Pages of Chapter One

Additional Pages

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Just right
  • Challenging
  • Impossible, even with everyone’s help
  • I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)

0 voters

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CC @fl0rm @Radish8 @windupbird @Asterlea for my nomination of 放浪息子 right above this, since each of you expressed some interest in it.

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I’m already looking at the sample pages :grin: but thanks for the tag.

it looks interesting, but I have some struggles without furigana since my wk level ist quite low :sweat_smile:
But I still could understand a lot and since there is still time before the next book will start I might be able to catch up on the kanji part

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Next book would start around September 1st I think. You could learn a couple hundred more kanji by then depending on your pace.

I just found out that googling for “Japanese beginner book club” (and similar) returns this forum topic multiple times on the first page. :grin:

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夏目友人帳 / Natsume’s Book of Friends

Summary

While most fifteen-year-old boys, in one way or another, harbor secrets that are related to girls, Takashi Natsume has a peculiar and terrifying secret involving youkai: for as long as he can remember, he has been constantly chased by these spirits. Natsume soon discovers that his deceased grandmother Reiko had passed on to him the Yuujinchou, or “Book of Friends,” which contains the names of the spirits whom she brought under her control. Now in Natsume’s possession, the book gives Reiko’s grandson this power as well, which is why these enraged beings now haunt him in hopes of somehow attaining their freedom.

Without parents and a loving home, and constantly being hunted by hostile, merciless youkai, Natsume is looking for solace—a place where he belongs. However, his only companion is a self-proclaimed bodyguard named Madara. Fondly referred to as Nyanko-sensei, Madara is a mysterious, pint-sized feline spirit who has his own reasons for sticking with the boy.

Based on the critically acclaimed manga by Yuki Midorikawa, Natsume Yuujinchou is an unconventional and supernatural slice-of-life series that follows Natsume as he, with his infamous protector Madara, endeavors to free the spirits bound by his grandmother’s contract.

Availability

amazon.jp
eBookJapan

Personal Opinion

It’s a fun story. On the one hand, we have this lonely boy, looking for normal friends and family. On the other, this fantastical world dipping into traditional Japanese mythology. The Slice Of Life aspect keeps it easier to read. It feels like a Japanese fairy tale. It also has an anime adaption that you can test your understanding on.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Full Furigana
  • Slice of Life aspect frequently uses common vocabulary
  • Unconventional story

Cons

  • Some specialized vocabulary
  • It used to be pretty popular, so you may have already read it / watched the anime

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
  • Just right
  • Challenging
  • Impossible, even with everyone’s help
  • I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)

0 voters

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I think we should probably open up voting for the next book in a week or two. That way everyone has a week to vote and enough time to buy the winning book before we start it.

I’ll add the most recent nomination to the list tonight (unless someone else wants to sooner), but once that’s done everyone should try reading the samples and vote on each book’s difficulty (if you haven’t already). And last chance to nominate more books for this round!

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I tried reading all of the nominations one right after another before the last one came in so that I could compare them more objectively, and my main conclusion was “Japanese is hard” :sweat_smile:

Guess this is a chance to have another go…

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Some look hard, but they all look so good / interesting. I want to read them all!

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@Radish8 I’m replying to your comment from the Floflo thread but thought it might be better posted here.

Someone nominated Penguin Highway for the Intermediate Book Club, but another person there thought it might be too easy and would be better suited for the Beginner Book Club. I have a feeling the difficulty might be between the two group’s levels, unfortunately. Have you tried any samples? I’m curious what you think.

I haven’t read a sample, no, but I’d imagine it would be a bit difficult for the Beginner club too. There is a Tsubasa Bunko version of it as well though, which I assume is easier? There is a sample for that, um… here:

I can give it a read later on today, but you might have a better idea of e.g. how it compares to Kiki.

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I’ll check out the sample again to refresh my memory. But it still might be hard for me to compare it to Kiki since I now have all the knowledge I gained by reading Kiki. I’ll try my best to look at it objectively, but I don’t know that I’ll be able to.

For what it’s worth, of the handful of samples I’ve tried reading since finishing Kiki, 絶叫学級 (which has been nominated) was by far the easiest.

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OK, I just had a quick look.
Two immediate thoughts on the start of the first chapter

  1. So. Much. Furigana.
    I know some people hate it, but it does make it a lot easier to look up words you don’t know.
  2. It’s written in first person by a narrator who describes himself as 小学校の四年生 in the second paragraph. So it’s not going to be too complicated… is it?
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@Radish8 @Kyasurin I just finished reading through until the second penguin icon page break. Here are my initial thoughts:

  • It is much easier than the beginning of Kiki, and I think that’s mostly because of the narration. Kiki was narrated by some outside/neutral narrator, so the text was much more detailed and complicated. As Kyasurin said, this book seems to be narrated by the elementary school age kid, so the text is much simpler. I didn’t get to any dialog, so it’s hard to say how that part would compare.
  • It’s more difficult than Aria, but as I said seems easier than Kiki. For additional comparisons, it seems to be about the same difficulty as 絶叫学級 and also much easier than ご注文はうさぎですか.
  • Regarding the kanji and furigana, it looks like it includes more kanji than Kiki, which is good. Trying to parse kana for words that are normally written in kanji was one of the hardest parts about reading Kiki. Also, something random I noticed is that all the kanji have furigana, except for number kanji, which is kind of weird.