Reading Now: 耳をすませば
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
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
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!
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 ***
Book 22 | 夜カフェ
Book 23 | シャドーハウス ***
*** 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.
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
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.
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.
Do not nominate anything clearly NSFW
We try to maintain a wide appeal, so don’t knowingly nominate anything associated with fanservice or gore.
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”.
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.
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.
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?
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
Insert summary here, taken from wherever - Wikipedia, Amazon, etc. Improve the description if you would like / feel it necessary.
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
* Insert pros here.
* Insert cons here.
[details=“First Three Pages of Chapter One”]
Insert images here (can be photos from you or from eBook previews).
Insert a few more representative images here.
## 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
* I don’t know
List of Removed Nominations
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: 2022-09-17
Manga - Slow Loop (< 8wks)
Since childhood, Hiyori Yamakawa has witnessed her father’s various eccentricities, but one activity she has always loved doing with him is fly fishing—a complicated yet rewarding method of catching fish. Even after his sudden death, Hiyori still visits the seaside in her spare time, savoring the joy that her father’s memento brings her.
Three years later, Hiyori’s mother decides to remarry and arranges a dinner with her fiancé, his daughter, and Hiyori to celebrate. Anxious and wanting to pass the time, Hiyori goes to her usual fishing spot when a rather energetic girl named Koharu Minagi suddenly appears before her. The two soon become acquainted, with Koharu taking an interest in fly fishing herself. However, their meeting is more than just a coincidence: Koharu turns out to be Hiyori’s future stepsibling, which is only the beginning of treasured memories the both of them will reel in as they foster their sisterhood.
Difficulty: 2.17 [6 Votes]
Manga - Blue Box
The series focuses on Taiki Inomata, a student at Eimei Junior and Senior High who is a member of the boys’ badminton team. Every morning, he trains alongside his upperclasswoman and fellow crush Chinatsu Kano, who is on the girls’ basketball team. However, Chinatsu moves in with Taiki’s family when her parents leave Japan to work abroad. With Chinatsu now living with him, Taiki aims to slowly develop his relationship with her as they both strive to make it to the national championship with their respective teams.
Difficulty: 1.75 [8 votes]
Manga - 妖怪ギガ
Written and illustrated by Satsuki Satō, Yōkai Giga was serialized in Shogakukan’s Weekly Shōnen Sunday from April 26, 2017 to November 24, 2021. Shogakukan collected its chapters in eleven tankōbon volumes, released from September 15, 2017 to March 17, 2022.
The series was recommended by manga author Inio Asano. Gō Sasakibara of The Asahi Shimbun commended the depiction of the yōkai creatures presented in the series and compared Satō’s detailed art with humorous touch to Shigeru Mizuki’s work, the late manga artist and yōkai specialist known for GeGeGe no Kitarō.
Difficulty: 2.91 [11 votes]
Manga - ゲゲゲの鬼太郎
GeGeGe no Kitarō focuses on the young Kitarō—the last survivor of the Ghost Tribe—and his adventures with other ghouls and strange creatures of Japanese mythology. Along with: the remains of his father, Medama-Oyaji (a mummified Ghost tribesman reincarnated to inhabit his old eyeball); Nezumi-Otoko (the rat-man); Neko-Musume (the cat-girl) and a host of other folkloric creatures, Kitarō strives to unite the worlds of humans and Yōkai.
Some storylines make overt reference to traditional Japanese tales, and others involve Kitarō facing off with myriad monsters from other countries.
The series was created in 1960 by Shigeru Mizuki. It is best known for its popularization of the folklore creatures known as yōkai.
(adapted from Wikipedia)
Difficulty: 3.13 [8 votes]
Manga - Deep Sea Aquarium MagMell (< 8wks)
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.
Difficulty: 2.85 [13 votes]
Book - 5分後に笑えるどんでん返し
A collection of comical short stories with surprising endings.
Difficulty: 2.86 [7 votes]
Manga - Full Moon (< 8wks)
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.
Difficulty: 2.00 [9 votes]
Manga - The Promised Neverland
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.
Difficulty: 2.45 [11 votes]
Manga - Rainbow-Coloured Photograph (< 8wks)
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.
Difficulty: 2.69 [26 votes]
Manga - This Art Club has a Problem! (< 8wks)
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?!
Difficulty: 2.71 [28 votes]
This section explains where to buy Japanese books in general; see the nominations above for links to purchase specific books.
Purchasing Japanese 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.
Sirvorn has a wonderful guide to purchasing eBooks from Amazon JP.
"Next Book" Polls
Winner links go to the original nominations.
- Book Poll 16 - Winner: 神さまがまちガえる and 月刊少女野崎くん
Book Poll 15 - Winner: シャドーハウス
Runnoff Poll - Winner 耳をすませば
- Book Poll 14 - Winner: 夜カフェ
- Book Poll 13 - Winner: 極主夫道 and デスノート
- Book Poll 12 - Winner: 地縛少年花子くん and 小川未明 童話集
- Book Poll 11 - Winner: 不可解なぼくのすべてを and 日常
- Book Poll 10 - Winner: シメジシミュレーション and ハイキュー！！
- Book Poll 09 - Winner: ゆるキャン and フルーツバスケット
Book Poll 08 - Winner: ふらいんぐうぃっち
Runoff Poll - Winner: 霧のむこうのふしぎな町
- Book Poll 07 - Winner: 一週間フレンズ
- Book Poll 06 - Winner: 少女終末旅行 and ふしぎ駄菓子屋 銭天堂
- Book Poll 05 - Winner: 時をかける少女
- Book Poll 04 - Winner: のんのんびより and 夏目友人帳
- Book Poll 03 - Winner: Aria the Masterpiece
- Book Poll 02 - Winner: 魔女の宅急便
Book Poll 01 - Winner: よつばと！
Poll to decide what to do when the winner is a short manga (~4-6 weeks of reading)
- Result: read first volume of winner, followed by first volume of runner-up
Poll to decide whether book club topics should be moved to the
- Result: move everything
Poll to decide how long “next book” polls should stay open
- Result: 1 week
Poll to decide how many votes “next book” polls should allow per user
- Result: no limit
Poll to decide whether to create a 2nd Book Club for beginners
- Result: yes!