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

This is mostly so I have a list in one place.

I’m planning to nominate the following over the next month or so (names in romaji for ease of skimming):

  • Non Non Biyori
    • Relaxed slice-of-life/comedy
  • Nichijou
    • The vocab, wordplay, and punchlines are a little tricky at times, but it’s very easy to follow along with the context and its chapters are short
  • Shirokuma Cafe
    • Its humour didn’t resonate with me, but it is definitely a good beginner choice and I have the books, so why not
  • Himouto! Umaru-chan
    • Someone nominated this before, so I picked it up; it doesn’t seem too difficult, but it does lack furi
  • Ikamusume
    • Very short chapters, lots of visual gags, very shounen dialogue/conjugations while still being fairly slice-of-life and filled with common vocab
  • Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
    • Shoujo that focuses on an atypical romance between two highly intelligent, socially awkward people

If anyone beats me to any of these, that’s good, too.

There are a few others I’m considering, but I haven’t read more than the first chapter or two, so I’m not sure they’re really beginner-friendly. (I consider myself to be approaching the end of the beginner phase and have started chipping away at light novels)


Hi ! How much Japanese experience do you think someone should have before joining ? I’m new to WK but have been studying the language on and off for a few years, and I’ve gotten into more serious studying recently- found SRS methods like WK and Anki, starting Genki textbook, and I saw this and was interested. I’m the type who won’t get too frustrated from having to look a lot of things up, and it’s a little over a month until the next book starts from what I can see, so I’m wanting to give it a shot. Anyway if you’ll take me I’d be happy to join !! :blush:

Your level sounds fine, there is no real lower limit if you are prepared to apply yourself!
It’s a great way to learn, and there is no such thing as a dumb question (unless you ask it 10 times…) :rofl:
Welcome in!

1 Like

Thanks ! Yeah I’m prepared for it to take effort, and the accountability aspect of being in a book club is always helpful. I’m looking forward to studying with everyone. :yum:

1 Like

I’ve added ebook links in the first post for ご注文はうさぎですか and 絶叫学級. Amazingly they both have digital versions!

1 Like

If you’re interested in checking out Aria the Masterpiece before you buy it, there are a few pages of the manga at the bottom of the original proposal. Hopefully you can get a sense of the challenge ahead of time that way.

Just as a reminder, I added a template to the first post that you can use for the proposals.

I’d really like to read Nichijou because it features our very own @baggykiin but I can’t watch the anime legally anywhere, so I hope you do nominate that one!

I’m tempted to nominate Flying Witch but I don’t know whether we’re starting to have an over-abundance of slice-of-life suggestions :thinking: plus I’d quite like to try reading a book after Aria.


Yes please! I already got the first volume and I love it. It also has a kindle/ebook version on as well (though it’s not available in my country ;_ ; )

1 Like

Is a lot of Nichijou hard to understand because of the absurdity?

Ok. Guys. I definitely want to join you… I went to the intermediate club and they read 3 pages a day. LOL.

1 Like

It’s mostly tricky because of the slang and idioms. It’s significantly more complex than Yotsuba in that regard.

I haven’t yet made it far enough to see any of the truly ridiculous stuff (unrealistically exaggerated situations are plentiful, of course), but the vocab isn’t tough and the visuals provide a lot of context for everything that would be hard to follow if it were purely descriptive text.

It’s probably a “just right” book for anyone who’s read a couple of other volumes of manga, “challenging” for anyone who’s seen the anime (which is not too hard to watch unsubbed) but is reading for the first time, and “impossible” for anyone whose vocab is limited to just what they’ve learned from WaniKani. I doubt many people would vote “minimal effort”, making it something for when we’ve finished a few more cycles so first-timers can get help with the cultural things (and not-first-timers can focus on learning the cultural things).

When I nominate it, I’ll be sure to select some content that includes expressions that don’t translate literally. Ideally, I’d want to include a full chapter where the punchline is a single word following an escalating monologue, but I can’t remember how many pages that is right now (6-10, probably).

1 Like

We’re going to be reading about that much, too. It’ll just be manga, not a light novel.

(It’s not clear whether 3 is too fast or too slow to you from that “LOL”, though)

All of the kanji in Aria has furigana, so looking things up should be easy, and the majority of it should be pretty common vocab, outside of stuff specifically related to the service/tourism industry and gondolas.

The main limiting factor is likely to be grammar. By the time you’ve finished Genki II, you shouldn’t have much trouble, but if you’re only, say, halfway through Genki I, you may find it difficult to follow along with a conversation, even if you know all of the words (assuming you don’t mistake words written in kana for particles, which trips up a lot of people and is the single most difficult thing about reading Yotsuba).

If the Yotsuba threads are any indication, should you decide to put it on hold due to difficulty, you’ll have no problem picking the book up again later and getting responses to questions you may have in the future.

To add to that @MallowMallsoft, I would say that if you buy it it’s worth persevering for the whole of the first chapter before deciding whether to keep at it or not, unless you’re obviously totally out of your depth. I haven’t looked at the second chapter yet so it might get harder again, but the very beginning is Exposition Time and therefore a little dense. Once we reach some dialogue it eases up a bit.

You’ll also pick up quite a lot of the specific gondola-related vocabulary early on, presumably, so there shouldn’t be quite so much looking up needed the further in you get.


I bought it quite a while ago, and not necessarily for reading, but rather as a fan article, really. :see_no_evil:

Having watched the anime, I knew what was going on anyways. I looked up the English fan(?) translation to get a clue what’s going on, but that was probably due to my lacking skills in both vocab and grammar (at that time).

I think if people were completely new to Nichijou than it might be a bit of a weird if they come across words maley terms, and the humor might be a bit special as well.

Having said that, I am not sure I would have really enjoyed or appreciated Nichijou as a manga if the anime hadn’t had amazing visuals, voice actors or a catching soundtrack. The whole “God Is Dead” scene has a different feel in the manga for example.

I think @fl0rm judgement on the reading difficulty in comparison with the level of the reader is quite fitting, as I found it “challenging.”

my copy arrived today!
and i only ordered it last week or the week ago, but よつば hasn’t arrived yet and i ordered it a while ago hahah

3 pages of a novel every day… that’s insane. Who has the time?

I’m doing about five per day of a slightly easier light novel. Some pages take as little as three minutes, while others take ten; I try to read for about half an hour before bed.

Three per day is a lot to ask of a beginner, but it shouldn’t be a big deal by the time you’ve finished a handful of manga or other simpler material, like what we’re reading here. It wouldn’t surprise me if most of the intermediate group will knock out each chapter in one or two sittings.

1 Like

I couldn’t do 3 pages every day without burning out. With Kiki, we’re averaging 10 a week, though for the last few chapters I’ve personally been doing closer to 15 a week. But even that’s not consistent. I might do 7 pages in a single day and then go two or three days without reading at all.