Beginner Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: 夜カフェ

Now Reading: 夜カフェ / novel

image

More details in the Night Cafe Nomination Post
A preview is available on Bookwalker

Physical: Amazon JPCDJapan
Digital: KindleKoboBookWalker



Welcome to our Book Club!

In this club we choose a Japanese book together and read it following a weekly schedule. We help each other with grammar, compile a vocabulary sheet together and discuss the story.

We hope that eventually you’ll be able to take the jump to the Intermediate Book Club :rocket:

If you’re interested, just grab a copy of the upcoming book (we vote ~6 weeks before finishing the current pick) and join in! You are always welcome to ask new questions in the threads of any of our previous picks as well :slightly_smiling_face:



Which Book Club?

This club is for those beginning to read native books and manga, not beginners to Japanese. We suggest a solid understanding of N5 grammar and at least some of N4.

Our picks vary in difficulty, roughly from relatively easy manga for teens to children’s books. The best way to judge is to look at the sample pages for a particular pick. Remember that it will be easier with everyone’s help though!

The Absolute Beginners’ Club usually tackles material aimed at younger children.
The Intermediate Book Club usually tackles books and reads faster.


Previous Picks

For a subjective comparison of these picks and pointers on where you might want to start, please see the Comparison Thread.

Manga unless stated otherwise.

Book 01 | よつばと!・ Yotsuba&! ***
Book 02 | 魔女の宅急便 ・ Kiki’s Delivery Service / novel
              | 2020 Repeat Club for Kiki’s Delivery Service
Book 03 | Aria; Masterpiece Edition ooo
Book 04 | のんのんびより・ Non Non Biyori
Book 05 | 夏目友人帳 ・ Natsume’s Book of Friends
Book 06 | 時をかける少女 ・ The Girl Who Leapt Through Time / novel
Book 07 | 少女終末旅行 ・ Girls’ Last Tour ooo
Book 08 | 銭天堂 ・ The Mysterious Sweet Shop / novel
Book 09 | 一週間フレンズ ・ One Week Friends
Book 10 | ふらいんぐうぃっち ・ Flying Witch ***
Book 11 | 霧のむこうのふしぎな町 ・ Mysterious Town Beyond the Mist / novel
Book 12 | ゆるキャン△・Laid-Back Camp ***
Book 13 | フルーツバスケット・Fruits Basket +++
Book 14 | シメジシミュレーション・Shimeji Simulation ***
Book 15 | ハイキュー!!・Haikyuu!! ***
Book 16 | 不可解なぼくのすべてを・FukaBoku ooo
Book 17 | 日常・Nichijou
Book 18 | 地縛少年花子くん・Toilet-Bound Hanako-kun
Book 19 | 小川未明童話集・Ogawa Mimei: Collection of Children’s Stories / short stories
Book 20 | 極主夫道 ・The Way of the Househusband ***
Book 21 | デスノート ・ Death Note ***

*** currently continuing as an offshoot club
+++ continued as an offshoot club, currently in hiatus
ooo entire series completed as an offshoot club

We always read just the first volume of a series (sometimes we read a ‘Master’ edition which incorporates the first two volumes of an original run). Sometimes, if a particular pick was enjoyed by many people who want to continue reading it together, that pick will continue to run as a parallel offshoot, reading the subsequent volumes.


Proposed Books

Feel free to nominate something you’d like to read using the template below! Suggestions must be appropriate though; please read the guidelines.

Guidelines for Proposing Books
  1. Nominate something you are ready to read
    We want to maintain lively discussion throughout the club, so don’t nominate something you yourself will struggle to participate in. You also can’t rely on there being more advanced learners available to help with all questions.

  2. Books must be under 200 pages
    This is the most we could tackle within a reasonable timeframe (ideally no more than 16 weeks), but if the book is dense even 200 pages may be too much.

  3. Do not nominate anything clearly NSFW
    We try to maintain a wide appeal, so don’t knowingly nominate anything associated with fanservice or gore.

  4. Do not nominate anything difficult to procure
    Picks must be readily available at online stores. If no eBook version is available please consider whether it’s still worth nominating and list this clearly as a “con”.

  5. Well-known works are more desirable
    Guidance only: the reader pool will be much larger for well-known works, and background knowledge of the premise will make it easier for people to understand the content and help each other out.

  6. Fantasy and Sci-Fi are less desirable
    Guidance only: fantasy and sci-fi works often use niche and esoteric vocabulary (on top of intimidating info-dumps). Series which focus on human interaction in a real-life setting tend to provide a lower barrier to entry and higher returns on time invested.

  7. Books that fail to score at least 20% on the last three round of voting will get automatically removed.
    This approach ensures that the list remains reasonably small and dynamic.
    You may nominate a removed book again, but please think about it before hand. Do you think there’s reasonable interest for that nomination?

Proposal Template

Copy this template into a new post when making a nomination.

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 eBook previews from e.g. Amazon, Kobo, BookWalker. Make sure the text is legible!

# Insert Title Here

## Summary
Insert summary here, taken from wherever - Wikipedia, Amazon, etc. Improve the description if you would like / feel it necessary.

## Availability
Insert purchase links for physical: preferably Amazon JP and CD Japan.
Insert purchase links for digital: preferably Kobo and BookWalker. Mention if an eBook is not available at all and list this in the cons.

## Personal Opinion
Insert why you think this book would be good to read, personally and for the book club.

### Pros and Cons

**Pros**
* Insert pros here.

**Cons**
* Insert cons here.

## Pictures

[details=“First Three Pages of Chapter One”]

Insert images here (can be photos from you or from eBook previews).

[/details]

[details=“Additional Pages”]

Insert a few more representative images here.

[/details]

## Difficulty Poll
How much effort would you need to read this book?

[poll type=regular public=true]
* 1 - No effort at all
* 2 - Minimal effort
* 3 - Moderate effort
* 4 - Substantial effort
* 5 - So much effort my head might explode :exploding_head:
* I don’t know
[/poll]

List of Removed Nominations

Current Proposals

See the linked nomination posts for more information, including sample pages.
Follow the comic.pixiv links to read the first chapter or so for free; click the white 試し読み button.

The difficulty scores come from club members voting in the nomination post; you should vote too!
Last updated: 2022-05-05

Manga - Deep Sea Aquarium MagMell

マグメル深海水族館

Nomination Post
comic.pixiv
Natively - Level 23??

A tale about a modern deep-sea aquarium employee in Tokyo!What’s living in the overwhelming darkness deep within the sea? Take a glimpse into this strange world about a boy working at a deep sea aquarium.

Physical: CDJapan | AmazonJP
Digital: Kobo | Bookwalker | Kindle

Difficulty: 2.88 [8 votes]

Book - 5分後に笑えるどんでん返し

5分後に笑えるどんでん返し

Nomination Post
Natively - Level 25??

A collection of 100 short stories ranging from funny, emotional, friendship, cynical, and everything in between. Every story is short and has an unexpected ending.

Physical: CDJapan | Amazon JP
Digital: Bookwalker | Kindle

Difficulty: 3.00 [5 votes]

Book - Unexpected Endings After 5 Seconds

秒後に意外な結末 パンドラの赤い箱

Nomination Post
Natively - Level 25??

A collection of 100 short stories ranging from funny, emotional, friendship, cynical, and everything in between. Every story is short and has an unexpected ending.

Amazon | CD Japan | Bookwalker

Difficulty: 2.09 [11 votes]

Manga - Full Moon

満月をさがして

Nomination Post
comic.pixiv
Natively - Level 24??

Twelve-year-old Mitsuki Koyama dreams of becoming a singer to reunite with her first love, Eichi Sakurai. However, she is afflicted with sarcoma (a cancerous tumor in her throat), which affects her ability to breathe well and sing loudly. Her tumor is curable only through a surgery that could damage her vocal cords. At the same time, her grandmother hates music and is completely opposed to Mitsuki’s wish to audition. Mitsuki’s dreams seem impossible to achieve, until one day she is visited by two shinigami, Takuto and Meroko, whom only she could see. Takuto and Meroko inadvertently tip Mitsuki off that she has only one year left to live.

Physical: Amazon JP | CD Japan
Digital: Kobo | BookWalker | Kindle | EbookJapan

Difficulty: 2.00 [9 votes]

Manga - Mashle: Magic and Muscles

マッシュル-MASHLE-

Nomination Post
comic.pixiv
Natively - Level 24??

Set in a magic world, Mash Burnedead is a young man who was born without magic. In order to live a peaceful life with his adoptive grandfather, he needs to become a Divine Visionary, a title given to exceptional students from the Easton Magic Academy. Mash goes to the magic school, despite not having any magic, and must survive by only relying on his muscles. (Wikipedia)

Physical: CDJapan | Amazon JP
Digital: Bookwalker | Kindle | Kobo

Difficulty: 2.80 [10 votes]

Manga - Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun (< 8wks)

月刊少女野崎くん

Nomination Post
comic.pixiv
Natively - Level 27

Chiyo Sakura is a cheerful high school girl who has fallen head over heels for the oblivious Umetarou Nozaki. Much to Chiyo’s confusion, when she confesses to Nozaki, he hands her an unfamiliar autograph. As it turns out, the stoic teenage boy is actually a respected shoujo mangaka, publishing under the pen name Sakiko Yumeno! A series of misunderstandings leads to Chiyo becoming one of Nozaki’s manga assistants.

Throughout the hilarious events that ensue, she befriends many of her quirky schoolmates, including her seemingly shameless fellow assistant, Mikoto Mikoshiba, and the “Prince of the School,” Yuu Kashima. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun follows Chiyo as she strives to help Nozaki with his manga and hopes that he will eventually notice her feelings.

AmazonCD Japan.
KindleKoboBookWalker

Difficulty: 2.53 [17 votes]

Manga - Ranking of Kings

王様ランキング

Nomination Post
comic.pixiv
Natively - Level 24

The people of the kingdom look down on the young Prince Bojji, who can neither hear nor speak. They call him “The Useless Prince” while jeering at his supposed foolishness.

However, while Bojji may not be physically strong, he is certainly not weak of heart. When a chance encounter with a shadow creature should have left him traumatized, it instead makes him believe that he has found a friend amidst those who only choose to notice his shortcomings. He starts meeting with Kage, the shadow, regularly, to the point where even the otherwise abrasive creature begins to warm up to him.

Kage and Bojji’s unlikely friendship lays the budding foundations of the prince’s journey, one where he intends to conquer his fears and insecurities. Despite the constant ridicule he faces, Bojji resolves to fulfill his desire of becoming the best king he can be.

AmazonCD Japan

KindleKoboBookwalker

Difficulty: 2.70 [10 votes]

Manga - ひらめきはつめちゃん (< 8wks)

ひらめきはつめちゃん

Nomination Post
comic.pixiv
Natively - Level 25

A 4-koma gag manga that revolves around the life of a first-year grade school girl genius, Hatsume, and her inventor father, along with her invention; a robot box named “Hako.”

Amazon CDJapan
KoboBookwalker

Difficulty: 2.00 [11 votes]

Manga - The Promised Neverland

約束のネバーランド

Nomination Post
comic.pixiv
Natively - Level 27

From IMBD: When three gifted kids at an isolated idyllic orphanage discover the secret and sinister purpose they were raised for, they look for a way to escape from their evil caretaker and lead the other children in a risky escape plan. … No child is ever overlooked, especially since they are all adopted by the age of 12.

Amazon JP
CD Japan
Rakuten Books (Kobo)
Bookwalker
Comic Pixiv

Difficulty: 2.45 [11 votes]

Manga - Rainbow-Coloured Photograph (< 8 wks)

にじいろフォトグラフ

Nomination Post
comic.pixiv
Natively - Level 21

Aoi Yamabuki is a shy high school student who’s incredibly self-conscious about her blue eyes. Living with her older sister, a popular novelist, the girls’ lives change when a young foreign girl comes to live with them.

CDJapan | Amazon JP | Kobo | BookWalker

Difficulty: 2.68 [25 votes]

Manga - This Art Club has a Problem! (< 8 wks)

この美術部には問題がある!

Nomination Post
comic.pixiv
Natively - Level 25??

A girl with violently too much common sense, a boy whose sole ambition is to draw the perfect 2D bride, an addlebrained ghost member, and an always sleeping president - what is wrong with this art club?!

CDJapan | Amazon JP | Kobo | BookWalker

Difficulty: 2.71 [28 votes]



Book - Scary Lessons

絶叫学級

Nomination Post
Natively - Level 24??

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!

Amazon

Difficulty: 3.08 [39 votes]





Where to Purchase Books

This section explains where to buy Japanese books in general; see the nominations above for links to purchase specific books.

Purchasing Japanese Books

Physical 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. Amazon adds an estimated customs charge to your bill which will be refunded if you don’t have to pay customs (or pay less).

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.

eBooks:

Sirvorn has a wonderful guide to purchasing eBooks from Amazon JP.



Historic Polls


"Next Book" Polls

Winner links go to the original nominations.

Other Polls


177 Likes
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Idk what to put as a title
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Volume 4 (Original Ed.): フルーツバスケット ・ Fruits Basket 🍏 🍇 🍑 🍒 🍐 🍊 🧺
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Example Sentence Breakdown
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少女終末旅行: Chapter 3 Discussion
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銭天堂 | Week 11 Discussion
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銭天堂 | Week 12 Discussion
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のんのんびより: Chapter 3 Discussion
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Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 24 Discussion
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時をかける少女 Home Thread (Beginner Book Club)
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時をかける少女: Week 6 Discussion (Chapters 8 and 9)
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Wanikani Confessions
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魔女の宅急便・Kiki's Delivery Service :red_gift_envelope: Repeat Club
Absolute Beginners Book Club // Currently reading: Prefecture Stories
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Week 2: フルーツバスケット ・ Fruits Basket 🍏 🍇 🍑 🍒 🍐 🍊 🧺

A list of quick suggestions of books/manga for the first pool:

Please, if you have any suggestions, do say so. I made this list based on what I’ve seen considered as “easiest to read” around the Internet/Japanese learning community. I think it’s better to hear some suggestions from everyone before creating the pool that will decide the first book. I’ve heard that sports related stuff are also beginner friendly (Baby steps & Haikyuu!). Doraemon seems also to be a good option…

Also, feel free to let me know if there’s something that you don’t agree with :slight_smile:

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Since I just ordered “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,” but am also already committed to 秋の牢獄 for the next round of the other club, I guess I’ll just pop in and say hi now, and hope that “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” doesn’t get picked right away. I may be nuts, but I’m pretty sure I can’t handle two book clubs at once.

I’m excited to see this starting, and I hope those who don’t feel ready for the original club will find a place here!

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I have recently orderer yotsuba& and found it pretty entertaining and easily readable. I would be totally in for that one :slight_smile:

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Since I just bough the whole series for 絶叫学級 I’m hoping it might be picked :wink:
It seems like a very good beginner book, with easy language and furigana (which is good only while on lower levels, which many of us still are)

I have been considering Yotsuba too though, as I’ve seen it on so many lists for beginners =)

Edit:
Bought Yotsuba. Whether or not we pick it doesn’t mater, I have been thinking of buying it for so long anyway =) Found complete set at bargain price on eBay, free shipping!
時をかける少女 too, hey, if it is good for beginners, just as well grab it =) Got it of eBay for a fair price.
しろくまカフェ as well, I’ve seen it on more than one list of recommended mangas, founda set for a decent and low price on eBay.

4/5 (current suggestions) bought =) None in possession, though one bought before list :wink:
Himouto! I’m skipping on for now, and won’t have my vote as first book. Might be doable later when higher level due to not using furigana much.

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I’ve seen the other book club, and always thought it looked like fun. I’m still super beginner, but if we were reading something easy I would love to do my best. I think I have a lot to learn before I can read without looking up words and grammar all the time, but even if I have to look up every other word, I still think want to give it a try! I think it would be good for my learning and very motivating for me to have something to read in Japanese laying around.

I’ll add myself to the members list for now.

I’m interested in Yotsuba because I’ve heard it’s one of the easier books, but I’ll try to read anything.

By the way, where do you think is the best place to order books for me living in Sweden? Is it possible to order stuff from amazon.co.jp and have them shipped overseas?

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I’m able to buy from there, and I’m from Norway. I can’t seem to get free shipping anymore (always over 100Nok in shipping =/ )
I got Yotsuba of eBay instead, full series for 500Nok, free shipping.

I would like to recommend Chi’s Sweet home. It too, like Yotsuba, has easy language and a child as main character (the child is a cat, but still a child :wink: There’s an actual child too =P ) It has an easy yet fun plot that makes you feel for the characters, and the story is quite interesting. I have seen it on lists for beginners, and of my reading material it is one of the less strained readings I have without meaning to be (as in, it has natural language, yet is easy to follow) The language is about things happening around the house and family.

I would not, however, recommend Doraemon. I bought it cause it was made to be bilingual, and though made for Japanese people it could work the other way… No, not really. The Japanese text is very small and little to no furigana as it was meant for adults. I’m not able to read the Japanese part of those. The small Japanese text is set outside the frames while the English is in the text bubbles. I haven’t even gotten around to reading the English part of it yet. Much better to buy both versions of some other manga and read side by side.

Personally I love trying to read Naruto in Japanese. It feels t me just the same as Chi, cause I already know the lingo :wink:
For those not used to the series it would be much harder. They keep a lot of the Japanese parts in the scanlations of the mangas and in the subtitles of the anime, as well as being repeated so much that you end up knowing a lot of the phrases and specific ninja words they use in Japanese.

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A good resource we could use to find something good might be https://wakarukana.com/index, as it provides you with sample sentences of the work that you check so it tells you how hard it might end up being.

I wouldn’t be upset if we went with Yotsuba. I love manga and I hear Yotsuba is incredibly cute. Since I already love manga (I read a lot of manga but I’ve only read english translations so far), I think it’d be cool if my first book I read in Japanese (from cover to cover, anyway) is a manga. Plus, since everyone says Yotsuba is so simple, I would probably be able to have time to participate while still studying Genki like I want to. So if we go with Yotsuba as the first book, I’ll start participating now instead of waiting until next year. :slight_smile:

Though, I do also want to read “actual” books so I would want to go with something other than manga for our second book.

Whatever we decide to go with, I hope someone will post some links of good places to purchase from?

I checked out Himouto!, found photos of the actual pages. Since it doesn’t use much furigana it will be good for high levels but bad for lower levels. Didn’t buy it for now.

I do hope we try actual books as well, though I wouldn’t mind going with a manga as the first one and book as second =)

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よつばと! is a very entertaining book. The grammar and the vocabulary are fine but it should be said that there’re some informal particles or sentence structures which should be discussed. Also, keep in mind that Yotsuba pronounces the words long so don’t be confused when you see strokes in words =)

Oh yeah, I know a website which ships for free (over 39 bucks). But keep in mind that the prizes for individual books are more expensive. http://www.yesasia.com/global/en/japanese-comics.html

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Sure! This isn’t supposed to be a manga club. The problem is that what we associate as children books in the West, 日本人 associate with manga. That’s also why it’s important that everyone shares any extra book suggestions they might have :slight_smile:

From what I researched on google/forums, amazon.jp seems to be the place to go to order books in Japanese. That’s why I linked only from Amazon in the suggestions that I gave. Not sure if there’s better places out there though.

Kiki’s Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便)might be nice!

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I sometimes grab the same book through amazon.co.uk for a better price on shipping (doesn’t always work, but sometimes)
And eBay is always a good place to check. Not as easily linked as most will be one of, sold and gone. But do have a search there when looking =)

I’d be up for either よつばと or The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Although I’m hesitantly skeptical about how easy TGWLTT will be to read for beginners, based on my hazy memory of the movie.

I voted for that one in the previous vote on the original Book club! =D
Just cause I know the story, which is a good bonus (Ghibli Movie)
I should grab it too, to check it out =)

Edit: bought the set just as well. Found it at decent price on Amazon jp

Only a small amount of items can be shipped internationally. But it is possible to get it shipped for an extra fee by choosing a seller for used books and mailing them for a international shipping request.

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Really? Every book I’ve tried and bought (four so far) was easy to get through JP Amazon.

Omg, I’m sorry, I’m so dumb. I didn’t realize you already had provided those links in the other post… I read the titles but for some reason it didn’t click in my head that they were links to purchase them. xD

So, thank you, you already did what I was asking. xD My bad!

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From what I remember reading the book (in Swedish) the movie and the book(s) are quite different. Ghibli (Miyazaki) usually deviates quite a bit from the source material when they do an interpretation. Nothing bad with that, just putting it out there.

I like both versions though, might have give the book a read in Japanese!

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