Now Reading: 舞妓さんちのまかないさん (Kiyo in Kyoto)
Afterwards: この美術部には問題がある！ (This Art Club has a Problem!)
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・Night Cafe / light novel ***
Book 23 | シャドーハウス・Shadows House ***
Book 24 | 耳をすませば・Whisper of the Heart
Book 25 | 神さまがまちガえる・God Bless the Mistaken ***
Book 26 | 月刊少女野崎くん・Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun ***
Book 27 | 古見さんは、コミュ症です。・Komi Can’t Communicate
Book 28 | ロジカとラッカセイ・Rojica and Rakkasei ***
Book 29 | スーパーの裏でヤニ吸うふたり・Behind the Supermarket, Smoking With You
*** 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 15% 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
Natively: [Level ??](Natively Url)
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 Kindle, 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
|おおかみこどもの雨と雪||Too long (270 pages)
Moved to the intermediate book club
|キノの旅||Too hard / long (213 pages)
Moved to the intermediate book club
|ご注文はうさぎですか||Too hardbr/(ご注文はうさぎですか miscellaneous discussion) available|
|放浪息子||Misc discussion available|
|日本昔ばなしアニメ絵本 18冊全巻セット||Moved to the absolute beginners’ club|
|あたしンち||Moved to the absolute beginners’ club|
|しろくまカフェ||Read by the absolute beginners’ club|
|チーズスイートホーム||Read by the absolute beginners’ club|
|聲の形||First volume too depressing on its own!|
|こぐまのクーク物語||Moved to the absolute beginners’ club|
|名探偵コナン||Nomination out of date|
|Scary Lessons||Polling results|
|Mashle: Magic and Muscles||Polling results|
|Ranking of Kings||Polling results|
|アオのハコ (Blue Box)||Offshoot book club|
See the linked nomination posts for more information, including sample pages.
The difficulty scores come from club members voting in the nomination post; you should vote too!
Last updated: 2023-08-07
Manga - スラムダンク (Slam Dunk)
Hanamichi Sakuragi, infamous for his temper, massive height, and fire-red hair, enrolls in Shohoku High, hoping to finally get a girlfriend and break his record of being rejected 50 consecutive times in middle school. His notoriety precedes him, however, leading to him being avoided by most students. Soon, after certain events, Hanamichi is left with two unwavering thoughts: “I hate basketball,” and “I desperately need a girlfriend.”
One day, a girl named Haruko Akagi approaches him without any knowledge of his troublemaking ways and asks him if he likes basketball. Hanamichi immediately falls head over heels in love with her, blurting out a fervent affirmative. She then leads him to the gymnasium, where she asks him if he can do a slam dunk. In an attempt to impress Haruko, he makes the leap, but overshoots, instead slamming his head straight into the blackboard. When Haruko informs the basketball team’s captain of Hanamichi’s near-inhuman physical capabilities, he slowly finds himself drawn into the camaraderie and competition of the sport he had previously held resentment for.
* 24 volume Kanzenban (完全) - includes more color spreads and nicer overall but twice the cost (currently) compared with the other options
Digital: not available
Difficulty: 2.90 [10 votes]
Book - 雪女 (< 8wks)
Difficulty: 2.71 [7 votes]
Manga - 先輩がうざい後輩の話 (My Senpai is Annoying) (< 8wks)
Takeda, the somewhat crude, but caring senior, and Igarashi, the junior, that can’t be honest with him. Even today, Igarashi thinks that Takeda is annoying, but in reality, she doesn’t find him all that bad, and even though there are times, when he is annoying her, she unknowingly struggles with the distance between them. Both the story of Takeda and Igarashi, and the newly drawn story of the slightly more mature(?) Kazama and Sakurai are included!
Difficulty: 2.58 [12 votes]
Manga - スキップとローファー (Skip and Loafer)
Excellent student Iwakura Mitsumi has always dreamt about leaving her small town, going to a prestigious university, and making positive change in the world. But she’s so focused on reaching her goals that she’s not prepared for the very different (and overwhelming) city life that awaits her in a Tokyo high school. Luckily, she makes fast friends with Shima Sousuke, a handsome classmate who’s as laid-back as she is over-prepared. Can this naive country girl make it big in Tokyo with Sousuke by her side?
Difficulty: 2.31 [13 votes]
Manga - 夢みる太陽 (Dreamin’ Sun)
Shimana Kameko decides to skip school and run away from home after feeling overshadowed by her six-month-old brother and new stepmother. After leaving home, she stumbles over a man wearing a kimono who has apparently been locked out of his own house. Desperate to get back in, the man offers Shimana a place she can rent from him if she can fulfill three conditions: find the house key, tell him why she ran away, and have a dream.
Difficulty: 1.90 [10 votes]
Book - 手ぶくろを買いに/ごんぎつね 10歳までに読みたい日本名作 (Buying Mittens / Gon, the Little Fox)
- 手袋を買いに (Buying Mittens): When a cold winter comes to the forest, a little fox awakens one morning to the magic of a first snow-fall. His romp in the snow is cut short, however, when his cold, wet paws turn peony colored. What he needs, his mother decides, are some woolen mittens the size of his little paws. And so begins an overnight journey into the village where humans live…
- ごん狐 (Gon, the Little Fox): Gon, a mischievous little fox, loves to cause trouble… but one day realizes that one of his pranks had gone a bit too far.
- 花のき村と盗人たち (Hananoki Village and the Thieves)
- 決闘 (Duel)
- でんでんむしのかなしみ (The Sorrow of the Snail)
Difficulty: 2.38 [13 votes]
Manga - ひとりぼっちの〇〇生活 (< 8wks)
Hitori Bocchi, a girl with social anxiety who has difficulty communicating with others. Before starting middle school, her friend Yawara Kai, who will be attending a different school, tells Bocchi she is breaking off their friendship until she can make friends with her entire class at her new school. Thus, Bocchi is left with the task of befriending everyone in her class before graduation.
Difficulty: 2.33 [12 votes]
Manga - さよなら絵梨 (Goodbye Eri)
With his mother dying, Yuuta attempts to capture her last days on his phone. After her death, Yuuta heads to the roof of the hospital to commit suicide, but a meeting with a strange girl leads him on the path to making a movie.
Difficulty: 2.50 [8 votes]
Manga - スローループ (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: 2.14 [7 votes]
Manga - マグメル深海水族館 (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: 2.93 [14 votes]
Manga - 満月をさがして (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 - 約束のネバーランド (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 - にじいろフォトグラフ (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]
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 20 - Winner: 舞妓さんちのまかないさん (Kiyo in Kyoto) and この美術部には問題がある！ (This Art Club has a Problem!)
- Book Poll 19 - Winner: スーパーの裏でヤニ吸うふたり (Behind the Supermarket, Smoking With You)
- Book Poll 18 - Winner: Rojica and Rakkasei
- Book Poll 17 - Winner: 古見さんは、コミュ症です。
- 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 on what title format we should use
- Result: Native Japanese title with English title following in brackets e.g. アオのハコ (Blue Box)
- Poll on what the threshold for removal of a nomination should be
- Result: 15%
- 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!