Beginner Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: 葬送のフリーレン // Next: ウスズミの果て

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 open the details “Snapshot of current proposals” below for more details on each option, including links to sample pages which will help you gauge the difficulty.

Snapshot of current proposals
Manga - ウスズミの果て (Usuzumi no Hate)

Nomination Post
Natively

A lone girl is walking the desolate Earth. Her job is to look for survivors and cleanse the land. Will she find anyone?

Digital: Amazon, Bookwalker
Physical: Amazon, CD Japan

Difficulty: L25

Short Story - かえるくん、東京を救う (Super Frog saves Tokyo)

Nomination Post
Natively (Note: part of a larger compilation - only this story is nominated)

One day, Katagiri, an ordinary bank employee, comes back home and find a giant frog making tea in his kitchen. According to them, they have a big mission to fulfill : save Tokyo from a huge earthquake.

Difficulty: L18??

Manga - ヤマノススメ (Encouragement of Climb)

ヤマノススメ (Encouragement of Climb)

Nomination Post
Natively

Aoi Yukimura is a quiet girl who prefers staying indoors and is afraid of heights. When she reunites with her childhood friend Hinata Kuraue, who is outgoing and loves mountaineering, they decide to climb a mountain together, in order to see a sunrise they saw together when they were younger. Along the way, they meet several other girls who are also interested in the outdoors, and begin a series of adventures on various mountains across Japan.

Amazon | Bookwalker

Difficulty: L24

Manga - ココロのプログラム

ココロのプログラム

Nomination Post
Natively

A boy, Kyu, meets a robot girl, Ichiko.

During summer vacation, Ichiko, a robot girl who looks just like a human, comes to live with Kyu Usami, who lives with his mother. Kyu becomes attracted to her as she learns about her “heart.” And Ai, a childhood friend who has feelings for Kyu. Feelings that grow little by little and become intertwined…

Physical: Amazon JP | CD Japan
Digital: Kindle | Bookwalker

Difficulty: L25??

Manga - 葬送のフリーレン (Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End)

葬送のフリーレン (Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End)

Nomination Post
Natively

After a ten-year odyssey, the elf mage Frieren and Sky’s band of heroes succeed in overthrowing the demon king and bringing peace to the land. As an elf with a long lifespan, Frieren continues to roam the lands. The death of a former comrade brings her pain and deep regret - regret at not having spent enough time with them. With this regret in her heart, she sets off on a journey to meet a wide variety of people and share new adventures with them.

A post-apocalyptic fantasy telling the story of how the heroes lived after their great adventure.

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

Difficulty: L26

Manga - ヒナのままじゃだめですか? (< 8wks)

ヒナのままじゃだめですか?

Nomination Post
Natively

5th-grade student Hina has a secret she can’t tell anyone - she started menstruating 3 months ago. But her days of keeping it secret from her single father and her friends come to an end when one day, after class, her classmate and childhood friend Daichi notices blood on her chair… is she still a child? Or is she an adult? A serious coming of age story about a girl on the cusp of puberty.

Physical: Amazon JP | CD Japan
BookWalker | Kindle

Difficulty: L20

Manga - スラムダンク (Slam Dunk)

スラムダンク (Slam Dunk)

Nomination Post
Natively

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.

Physical: Amazon | Verasia EU | Manga Republic | Kinokuniya US
Physical (Kanzenban edition*): Amazon | CDJapan | Manga Republic | Verasia (EU)

* 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: L22

Book - 雪女 (< 8wks)

雪女

Nomination Post
Natively

Digital & free: Kindle JP | Aozora | Vertical reader
Digital & paid: Bookwalker | Kindle JP with furigana (with multiple short stories) | Kindle US (with multiple short stories)

Physical (bundled with multiple short stories): Amazon JP | AmazonUS

Audio: YouTube

Difficulty: L24

Manga - 先輩がうざい後輩の話 (My Senpai is Annoying) (< 8wks)

先輩がうざい後輩の話 (My Senpai is Annoying)

Nomination Post
Natively

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!

Physical: Amazon | CD Japan
Digital: Kindle | Bookwalker

Difficulty: L20

Manga - スキップとローファー (Skip and Loafer)

スキップとローファー (Skip and Loafer)

Nomination Post
Natively

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?

Physical: Amazon
Digital: Kindle | Bookwalker

Difficulty: L22

Manga - 夢みる太陽 (Dreamin’ Sun)

夢みる太陽 (Dreamin’ Sun)

Nomination Post
Natively

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.

Physical: Manga Republic | Amazon JP | CD Japan
Digital: Kindle | Kobo | BookWalker

Difficulty: L22

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)

Nomination Post
Natively

  • 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)

Physical: Amazon | CD Japan
Digital: Kindle

Difficulty: L23

Manga - ひとりぼっちの〇〇生活 (< 8wks)

ひとりぼっちの〇〇生活

Nomination Post
Natively

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.

Physical: Amazon, CD Japan
Digital: Kindle, Bookwalker

Difficulty: L21

Manga - さよなら絵梨 (Goodbye Eri)

さよなら絵梨 (Goodbye Eri)

Nomination Post
Natively

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.

Physical: Amazon | CD Japan
Digital: Kindle | Bookwalker

Difficulty: L24

Manga - スローループ (Slow Loop) (< 8wks)

スローループ (Slow Loop)

Nomination Post
Natively

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.

Physical: Amazon | CD Japan
E-Book: Amazon | Bookwalker

Difficulty: L28

Manga - マグメル深海水族館 (Deep Sea Aquarium MagMell) (< 8wks)

マグメル深海水族館 (Deep Sea Aquarium MagMell)

Nomination Post
comic.pixiv
Natively

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.

Physical: CDJapan | AmazonJP
Digital: Kobo | Bookwalker | Kindle

Difficulty: L24

Manga - 満月をさがして (Full Moon) (< 8wks)

満月フルムーンをさがして (Full Moon)

Nomination Post
comic.pixiv
Natively

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.

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

Difficulty: L24

Manga - 約束のネバーランド (The Promised Neverland)

約束のネバーランド (The Promised Neverland)

Nomination Post
comic.pixiv
Natively

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.

Amazon JP
CD Japan
Rakuten Books (Kobo)
Bookwalker
Comic Pixiv

Difficulty: L26

Manga - にじいろフォトグラフ (Rainbow-Coloured Photograph) (< 8wks)

にじいろフォトグラフ (Rainbow-Coloured Photograph)

Nomination Post
comic.pixiv
Natively

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.

CDJapan | Amazon JP | Kobo | BookWalker

Difficulty: L20

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

Difficulty scores come from Natively (if available). Natively is a large community of language learners where users rate the difficult of books they’ve read against others they’ve read and uses an ELO system to determine the relative difficulty. Because of the rating system the ratings without ?? should be reasonably accurate, but the levels with ?? are just an initial guess that must be taken with a pinch of salt.

When will we start and how many will we pick?

We will likely begin reading on April 19th, following the completion of the current book club 気になってる人が男じゃなかった。 If a short manga/book (expected less than 8 weeks) wins we will also read the second place option following that without holding another vote. (The short manga determination is not final since it is based on limited information and might change)

How does the vote work?

The poll will be closed on Saturday, March 9th.

You can vote for up to 5 options.

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

You can also browse the nominees on Natively

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