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

Well, ish. Past book clubs have also discovered that yonkoma makes for a much more solid read than standard free-form manga. It’s not difficult, per se, but it can be time-consuming, and it can be weirdly tiring.

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New here also, but I think that being in a ‘club’ helps facing the challenge. Since it was already done there is already a vocab list in the dedicated topic (Join Us! デスノート ・ Death Note (Beginner Book Club)).
As I said I tried years ago and the first pages were intimating because of death world related vocab, you immediately have to check a dictionary, but with the resources and joint effort of everyone I hope it should be fine.
Also as stated it is ‘beginner’ in reading native japanese so in fact preping for N3 (my case, still not so far from N4) or having it seems to be right. ‘Beginner’ of an intermediate stage of learning and practicing we might say!

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I see. Well, sign me up. I’m willing to give it a try. Just ran to the bookstore and ordered a copy of the first volume.

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Happy reading! I’ve got no space and I’m bad at making myself read digitally, so I’m sitting this one out.

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Here’s something I wrote for first-time readers in the current ABBC. I think it also applies when one goes from one stage of reading to another (such as ABBC to BBC, or manga or novel, or reading to listening):

Even if you find you struggle to follow along, so long as you ask questions on things you’re not certain about, and read the weekly discussion threads (even if it’s about grammar you feel you already know, as you may discover aspects you didn’t), you will over time have the following results:

  • You’ll learn more grammar, including grammar that’s designated as JLPT N1 (because it does come up in most any material written for native speakers, just less commonly than N5–N2).
  • You’ll learn more vocabulary, even though most of it you’ll probably forget if you’re not specifically studying them or adding them to an SRS.
  • You’ll get faster at reading, as your brain, a pattern-recognition machine, sees the same grammar over and over, and in some cases the same words again.

Keep in mind, I’ve written this not knowing your background with Japanese, and the kind of material you are able to read comfortably.

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夜カフェ(1) / Book

Summary

Kurosawa Hanabi wants to restart a new life in middle school. However, she failed all her middle school entrance exams and so she’s once again stuck at another local public school. And so her life continues the same way as before: With the same relationships, not attending any clubs and fighting with her parents. Argh, this every day life sucks! So she runs away from home and helps her aunt run a small café. There she gets to know a strange boy… And thus a story begins about friendship and love and a girl who tries to find a place where she belongs.

(Summary is a very rough summary/kind of translation of the amazon jp summary… I’m sorry, I botched this Q_Q It really didn’t sound that bad to me, but kinda cute. If someone else provides a summary I can edit it in)

From the amazon comments and description to me it sounds like the story of a middle schooler who tries to find her place and explore what is special in her sometimes not so special every day life.

Availability

physical:
Amazon JP
CDJapan

digital:
Kindle/Amazon JP
Kobo
BookWalker

Personal Opinion

I was looking for easy to get started books and stumbled upon this. It seems to be one of the more popular series of Aotori Bunko (->publisher aiming at late elementary to middle schoolers) (newest volume (11) is currently listed as their #2 on Amazon), the reviews seem fairly good and most adults seem to describe it as a heart warming story as well. And language wise it’s listed as one of the easiest books at learnnatively. I personally also like that there are more books in the series, should I get hooked (more reading material!). It seems to be based in the normal world, so I don’t expect any wild vocabulary that we sometimes find in other books (e.g. in books with a magic setting).
I read another book from the publisher before and they generally use kanji but add furigana. I find that this is easier to parse than a lot of non-kanji books (no hiragana-hell!).
I’m currently considering getting this even if no one else wants it :sheep:

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • It’s a book! Lots of reading!
  • Kanji generally used but with Furigana (beginner-friendly)
  • Book seems self-contained but part of a series (good offshoot club candidate?)
  • The book is already added at koohi.cafe (former floflo) if anybody uses that for vocab learning
  • Normal world / no fantasy setting (=> less specialized vocabulary)

Cons

  • It’s a book! (too much text might be intimidating for some compared to manga)
  • It’s school based, so not a super adult story

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One

(sample from BookWalker, it might be easier to read in their actual reader)



Additional Pages

There are a few cute illustrations as well


Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • 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

0 voters

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Like, horse bones?

I’ve gotten a bit of a head start, and found that I can understand enough of the grammar to have a sense of what’s happening. Lots of unknown vocab, but that’s what the chart is for. I MIGHT have just passed N4 (not holding my breath lol), and the grammar isn’t impenetrable. I’m also not going for 100% comprehension.

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minor typo? high school entrance exams. Perhaps also, “she’s once again stuck at another local public school?”

I think she’s 中1 now, so middle school? Or junior high or whatever you want to call it (there is no such thing where I live, so I thought middle school is fine?). I’ll fix the other thing, thank you <3

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My bad! I thought there were only high school entrance exams, but apparently there are middle school ones too. That seems like ridiculous stress to give elementary school students… I also thought middle school was compulsory for children. A lot of the later volumes show the main character in a school uniform, so I guess she’s still going or not dropped out completely?

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I think she tried to get into a better school, but that didn’t work out. And yeah, I think she is still going to school. I don’t think she’s super rebellious, but more in a light hearted way a bit fed up with her boring life :wink: but I don’t fully know either :slight_smile:

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We are getting closer to the poll and we already got a bunch of new nominations. Thanks to everyone that has submitted nominations so far! And thanks to everyone who took the time to vote on the difficulty!

I just updated the difficulty and while the brand new nominations got a lot of feedback some older ones are still at <10 votes, it would be great if you guys could take a couple minutes to go through some of them. To make it as easy as possible I have compiled a list with the ones that need it the most:

(I will not update the vote count this is just the snapshot at the time of posting this)

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I have one more nomination! :grin:

マッシュル-MASHLE-

Mashle,_volume_1_cover

Summary

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)

Availability

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

Personal Opinion

I’ve heard tons of good things about this series - Harry Potter parody meets One-Punch Man! From the reviews I’ve read it’s not too story driven and more comedy focused, so it shouldn’t be a big deal if someone falls behind and decides to skip a chapter, which is why I think it’s suitable as a book club pick. The text density seems to be around the same as Hanako.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Standard language, or at least I couldn’t spot any heavy dialects in the first chapter
  • Full furigana

Cons

  • The Kindle preview seemed blurry to the point of making some smaller characters very difficult to read for me. Bookwalker seems to be much better in comparison though.
  • With 220 pages in total, this manga is on the longer side for this club and would probably take around 10 weeks to read

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One

Additional Pages



Read the full first chapter on Bookwalker

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • 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

0 voters

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The Death Note book club has started! If you want to participate have a look at the week 1 discussion thread!

To all the lovely regulars if you could be so kind to change the title to
[Looking for Nominations!] Beginner Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: Death Note

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Haven’t nominated anything in a while but I’ve been thinking of re-reading this in JP and thought It’d be a nice fit for this club.

満月をさがして

Summary

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.

Availability

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

Personal Opinion

I enjoyed this manga in my native language when I was little and considering the target audience and what I’ve glimpsed from the Japanese edition it should be on a good level for this club. Despite the somewhat tragic circumstances of the main character (see summary) it is a light-hearted and upbeat story with both funny and touching moments. Although it isn’t slice of life and has a plot as well as some fantasy elements, the vocabulary doesn’t stray far from the everyday and is very manageable. I personally love this author’s characteristic art style even though it might not be everyone’s cup of tea.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Full furigana
  • It has an (easy to follow) plot and fantasy elements for anyone who isn’t so fond of slice-of-life while keeping to a simple everyday-ish vocabulary.
  • The full series is only 7 volumes (or 4 in the physical reprint) in case someone wants to see the story to the end.
  • Likeable characters in cute outfits. Emotional mayhem. Animal plushies.

Cons

  • Might not be for you if you are looking for an adult oriented story.
  • The art style could seem dated if you prefer more modern styles.

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One


Additional Pages


Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • 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

0 voters

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This manga has been on my list for a while. I really don’t like that old shoujo style art, but I’m otherwise really interested in reading it. So if it ever wins the poll I’ll definitely join in!

The digital version is 7 volumes. Did they consolidate it into 6 volumes in the reprint? I can only find 4 volumes for the reprint.

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Welp it seems to be 7 everywhere, even in my old physical copy (just checked) so I probably just misremembered :sweat_smile:. The reprint does seem to be only 4 so let me edit that…
And the art style… might grow on you after a while. Maybe.

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I immediately thought of you when I saw the cover art =D

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The next-book-poll-anticipation is killing me! Although I would enjoy many of the proposed manga, I would also love it if one (or both!) of the proposed novels won this round!

Also, I noticed that the Night Cafe proposal link in the main post sends you to the wrong proposal. I tried to fix it, but in the end couldn’t figure out the right url, so just wanted to let someone know who does know how to do it! Thank you!

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Fixed :cat2:

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