Beginner Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: シャドーハウス

I asked my elementary school librarian (I’m an ALT in Japan) and she said it was 4th/5th/6th grade reading level, but it might be difficult for some 4th graders. She also recognized the book and said it’s in the school library!


The table of contents is actually wrong! Each story is 2 pages, front and back, with the exception of the last story, which is 3 pages (the last page is a picture with a speech bubble). It’s wrong in the printed version too.


I’ve seen this series around at my school and at many bookstores too! It’s been very popular recently!

I own a different one from the 5分シリーズ that I keep meaning to read!
Can we make book proposals at any time? Proposing it as a book to read would definitely help with my motivation for reading practice.


Yep, anyone can make a proposal. If I look at the list of current proposals, I notice there’s a whole lot of manga and hardly any books. So by all means, suggest a book! :grin:

@lilyvsstar make sure to add your proposal to the list as well :slight_smile: Just edit the original post.


I had a really hard time figuring out how to add it to the proposal list, so hopefully I did it right. I didn’t realize I had to add it to the list.


The Death Note book club has finished the first volume! If you want to you can give feedback here!

The next book 夜カフェ will start on March 26th!

Could one of the regulars change the title to. Thanks!

Beginner Japanese Book Club // Starting soon: 夜カフェ


How do we feel about trying to incorporate LearnNatively levels into our proposals and/or previous picks?

This came up in the Death note thread, and since the ABBC have added these levels to their previous picks.

My best attempt at gathering levels for previous books:

  • Yotsuba 18
  • Kiki’s 26
  • Aria 22
  • Non Non 22
  • Natsume’s 24
  • Girl who leapt through time 23
  • Girl’s last tour 22
  • Mysterious sweet shop 24
  • One week friends 22
  • Flying witch 19
  • Mysterious town 26
  • Laid back camp 25
  • Fruits basket 24
  • Shimeji simulation 25
  • Haikyuu 26
  • FukaBoku 22
  • Nichijou 26
  • Hanako-kun 24
  • Ogawa Mimei 27
  • Househusband 26
  • Death note 32

For our current proposals:

There are some caveats to consider:

  • not every book has a rating
  • ratings fluctuate (they update as more users make comparisons)
    • interestingly since my post in the Death note thread last night we had some level changes
    • increased by 1 level: yotsuba, girl’s last tour, yuru camp
    • increased by 2 levels: nighijou
    • decreased by 1 level: househusband
  • we likely want to avoid temporary ratings (they have a ? after the number and indicate insufficient data)

I think the level fluctuations aren’t a big problem, as I think the rough ballpark matters more than the exact number.


Sounds like a good idea. Although I wonder if it makes sense to use a range? Like 22-24, 25-27, something like that? It’d deal with the fluctuations and with the fact that the difference between 22 and 23 is pretty arbitrary and negligible.


It’s very useful as a rough guide, certainly. The more data there is about a book the better.
Difficulty ratings are always going to be a little arbitrary and subjective I feel, but that’s okay. For example, having read both Death Note and Ogawa Mimei, I’m a little surprised that the former is rated as more difficult than the latter. With two novels from the Intermediate Book Club under my belt, I still feel that parts of Ogawa Mimei were among the hardest things I’ve read so far.



On top of that I think comparisons between novels and manga are going to be particularly iffy.

I personally find text quantity to be a huge factor, so texts with nominally low grammar difficulty but high text quantity can still be hard for me, even though I can likely work through any individual part in isolation.

For example your recent ABBC nomination I embarrassingly still haven’t been able to read enough to rate it, whenever I try my brain just slides off it >.>


You don’t need to be embarrassed at all, it’s totally relatable. I’m gradually realizing that it really wasn’t a good fit for the ABBC. To be honest, when I first glanced at the sample myself, my impression was that it would be quite hard to read. Text (and kanji) density can do that to you. Then when I actually started reading it, I was so surprised that it flowed more or less naturally that I may have ended up rating it as more simple than it is, exactly because of that difference between expectations and reality. I will also admit that I find reading any kind of sample difficult, because I don’t fully commit to it. I only tend to give the text proper attention when I start reading with the intention of actually reading and not just rating, if that makes sense (it probably doesn’t). :sweat_smile:


The rankings might turn out to be more useful in retrospect for books we’ve read rather than upcoming proposals. It looks like several of the proposals don’t have enough data to give a level yet.

I like the idea that by showing the scores it promotes the website, which will lead to more reviews and more useful data in the future.


The book club for 夜カフェ has started! If you are interested head over to the main thread or directly to the thread for this weeks chapter!

Can one of the regulars change the title to
Beginner Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: 夜カフェ


Done :slight_smile:

Happy reading everybody :+1:


Regarding book choice, I feel like I want something more than a manga, but not a light novel. Perhaps a picture book with some texts that are not in callouts / clouds?

Of course, mangas can be challenging too, but usually not too much. Also, mangas are too easy to be skimmed.

Maybe, books in this category exist, but there aren’t too many, when taking interesting ones into account. Also, what do you call this category? [Book]?


Do you mean something like this but with maybe more text?


Yes. Also, I have seen ones for kindergarteners (who are native).

I think fun factors are what matter most.


Then what you’re looking for are picture books. :slightly_smiling_face: The one I showed above is 絵本佐賀のがばいばあちゃん which is the picture book version of the upcoming book we’re reading in the Intermediate Book Club.

It’s only about 27 pages, and I thought about nominating it in this club (for those who aren’t quite ready to tackle the novel but would like a little peek at it, and we could easily make short work of it), but the problem is these kind of books are only available as oversized hardbacks, and I doubt you could get an ebook version, which might be off-putting to some members.

As for your personal interest, I just searched 絵本おすすめ and found this page of picture book recommendations. You can even sort by age too, so I assume the older the target audience is for, the more kanji will be used. No idea if furigana would be available for the books with older target audience though. The がばいおばあちゃん one was specifically written with the intent of making it accessible to all children, so furigana was included for the little ones.


You could also check out the Doggy Detectives and Kitty Detectives book clubs! They have a bit more text than picture books, but still quite a bit less than 夜カフェ. And loads of pictures.


Hi Guys!

You guys have read a lot of books. I’m looking for another book like 時をかける少女. Or maybe one’s who’s grammar is even a little easier. What I liked about 時をかける少女 is that the words were a little bit of a stretch but I have furigana to fall back on. The grammar was actually a little intense so I wouldn’t mind a little bit easier in that regards. I was looking at Kiki’s or 君の名は. I also have Harry Potter 1 and the audio recordings…

I usually read them with my tutor.

Any help would be lovely!