Beginner Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: 耳をすませば

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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Vote for the next book - now!

Can I vote?

If you are interested in joining the next book club we run, you can - and should - vote!

Please look under “Current Proposals” in the first post for more details on each option, including links to sample pages which will help you gauge the difficulty.

Please take difficulty into account

Some people do find that reading a work they love or know already is inherently motivating, but please be realistic. Look at the samples and compare to others. Remember that both language and density contribute to difficulty.

Difficulty Scores

The number in front of each option is a difficulty score based on club members voting, where 1 indicates “no effort at all” and 5 indicates “so much effort my head might explode!”. These scores aren’t objective by any means , so please look at the sample pages for yourself as well.

When will we start and how many will we pick?

We will likely begin reading on the 26th of March, with one week break after we finish reading Death Note. If a short manga (expected less than 8 weeks) wins we will also read the second place option following that without holding another vote.

How does the vote work?

The poll will be closed on Sunday 6th February at the latest.

You can vote for up to 4 options.

You can change your vote at any time by clicking ‘Show vote’ at the bottom.

  • [2.00] Full Moon [Manga]
  • [2.89] Mashle: Magic and Muscles [Manga]
  • [2.47] Night Cafe [Book]
  • [2.53] Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun [short Manga]
  • [2.78] Ranking of Kings [Manga]
  • [2.00] ひらめきはつめちゃん [short Manga]
  • [2.45] The Promised Neverland [Manga]
  • [2.45] Whisper Me a Love Song [short Manga]
  • [2.71] A Tropical Fish Yearns for Snow [short Manga]
  • [2.68] Rainbow-Coloured Photograph [short Manga]
  • [2.71] This Art Club has a Problem! [short Manga]
  • [3.05] Scary Lessons [Book]

0 voters

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If one of the regulars could change the title to

[Now Voting!] Beginner Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: Death Note

that would be great! Thanks!

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Silly question as I haven’t been part of a book club reading a novel yet, how does a reading schedule for a book work compared with a manga?

Just doing some very rough character counting to try get an idea of text volume (Obviously this isn’t a good representative sample).

夜カフェ(1) page 1 is very roughly 256 characters, page 2 is 395 characters.
デスノート ・ Death Note (1) page 21 (relatively text heavy) is 161 characters, page 28 (medium) is ~ 94 characters.

This seemingly large gap scares me a bit.
It looks like for 時をかける少女 the club read 5-11 pages per week, while with death note it’s more in the 25-30 pages per week range.
Is this roughly the norm for books/novels ?

I have tried to dabble in 星の王子さま but it was very slow going and seemed to require a lot of mental effort to stop my eyes rolling over at the sight of the text volume per page - and when I could get past that, having to work with less context from pictures made it more work further. I’m hoping / expecting that this will get easier over time, but it is also kind of terrifying.

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my 2c… the books in the beginner book club tend to vary a bit… really will depend on where you are on your level. I have tried a few of the beginner books and dropped them and come back later. Aside from my very book being a beginner book club, in general I have found (with my life) and previous lack of grammar, etc…it wasn’t possible to enjoy the book and keep up with the club…also the stories didn’t pull me in (that will make a huge impact on if you want to continue)…

my first book was: (Girls’ Last Tour) Back in early 2019…was brutal…barely had any N4…but I was super happy i got through it…but I finished with the help of so many awesome people on the forums…(this isn’t a hard manga btw)

Then I thought I’d try (Flying Witch) harder but again did it…but found that it was really taking me many hours each night and most of my weekend just to be able to keep up and understand… (mostly lack of grammar)…vocab hurts but grammar and lack of reading experience hurt more…

Went back to the ABBC and have had much less headaches… though it’s gotten easier to the point that I can (depending on the extent of the vocab) usually get through a chapter in 60-90 min depending which is actually making the reading fun! Also the stories (currently doing Teasing Master - we are starting Vol 5 soon! It’s cute and fun and easy to read…brings that joy of learning and reading together …
Decided to try the BBC again and (Zenitendou, The Mysterious Sweet Shop) but it was too soon for me and gave up on that one early!..was too hard for me at the time (will likely go back to it at some point)… Also tried (The Mysterious Town Beyond the Mist) but it was too much text to process and keep up with the club…(and didn’t get into the story as much so read some and put it down)…[same with Kiki’s…hmm…probably because these stories didn’t really hold my interest as much maybe… :thinking:]

Then tried (Ogawa Mimei: Collection of Children’s Stories)…and this was IMO not the best pick for the beginner club…had actually had some native speakers was asking for help with some stuff and all of them said this is ‘beginner’ they were shocked… in any case for me that wasn’t a great pick (older writing style and kind of weird stories…just not my thing and too hard)…so dropped that one after a couple of the stories.

But then I saw last year Death Note was coming and I saw the anime 15 years ago maybe…and knew the story and thought why not…I can say it’s taken me quite a bit more time than ABBC, and it’s text heavy but not impossible. Not sure how much is because I know the story and now much is because now I have about 40% of the N3 grammar knowledge…but that combined I was able to get through each week within about 10 hours (sometimes a few pages go fast, then get bogged down an hour per page)…varied a bit…but it has been doable with everything. I figure if I can spend an hour or so a night and a couple of hours here and there and get it wrapped up then it’s within my ability…

I do feel like Death Note is worthy of being in the Beginner category, but it’s closer to the upper beginner level, which is fine…that’s what the forums are for…when stuck ask questions :slight_smile:

If you want to read it…give it a shot…see how it goes…the upside of buying physical books…can always go back them later :slight_smile: If you find the time commitment is too high, content to difficult, boring/not interesting, etc…no matter what book it is…can always put it down and pick up something different :slight_smile:

----edit----
should add that I also picked up rental niichan… and because of these book clubs and the resources remain online here been able to read this w/o the club - currently in vol 3… and it’s also something I can get through a chapter in about 60 min or so… aside from being sad…hoping for a happy ending (but it’s a Japanese story… :expressionless:) it’s very approachable and easy to read (though it is an ABBC book).

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I think that typically a book club’s schedule will start slow (~4-5 pages a week) and may end up at ~10-15 pages per week depending on the book and the club members’ stamina. That’s roughly how it went with the Ogawa Mimei club at least. I’m one of the people who tend to find novels way easier than manga, and I know that’s not true for everyone, but I’d still argue that after you get past that initial dread of a page full of characters, it’s really not that bad. Sentences in manga are typically speech, and therefore condensed and full of quirks. Sentences in novels are much more regular in structure, and do a good job of giving all the context you’d otherwise get from a picture. Because they can’t show, they explain, if that makes sense, and that makes them much more immediately understandable to me. The parts where I find myself struggling the most in novels are still almost always direct speech, exactly the kind of thing manga are full of. I’d say give it a try, and you’ll most probably be pleasantly surprised after the first week or two :slight_smile:

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I’ll let you in on the big secret when it comes to pegging books to a particular book club level: we’re all just kinda guessing, here. :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeah, I found that… readable, but not fun to read. (And I mean the actual reading of it, rather than how depressing and/or unsatisfying the stories were.)

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Want to second this. In books you’ll find a much higher amount of sentences where the main obstacle is vocab. With a vocab sheet, that barrier gets lower.

I would say that with your first couple book, the first week will be be the hardest. Like really hard. My recommendation would be to pace yourself and read a couple of pages a day. And then ask questions as you go, instead of waiting until you’ve read the entire chapter.

And then after a couple of weeks, you’ll find that the grammar you struggled with starts become a lot easier as you see the same structures again and again.

For Kiki’s, for example, I remember struggling with onomatopoeia and metaphors with ような. With コンビニ人間, I struggled with the passive tense and slightly more complex sentence construction. But eventually those kind of just clicked. I find myself having to break down sentences a lot less.

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Wow, scary lessons is still in there, after all those years…
I feel like it deserves to win at some point just on longevity alone.

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I’m definitely buying myself a copy regardless. :blush:

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