Beginner Japanese Book Club (Now Reading: 銭天堂 - ふしぎ駄菓子屋)


Current Book: 銭天堂 - ふしぎ駄菓子屋


Sample pages available in the Nomination Post
Amazon JP | CDJapan | BookLive | Honto

Next Book: to be determined!

Tentatively starting 10th August…

Previous Picks

Links to Discussion Threads

1 よつばと! Volume 1 (now continuing in its own book club)
2 魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service)
3 Aria the Masterpiece Volume 1 (Aqua Volumes 1 and 2) (now continuing in its own book club)
4 のんのんびより Volume 1
5 夏目友人帳 Volume 1
6 時をかける少女
7 少女終末旅行


Welcome to our Japanese book club for beginners! In this club, we choose a Japanese book and read it together. We then discuss what we’ve read, whether that’s meaningful discussion on the content, questions about vocabulary and grammar that confuse us, or just motivating each other to keep moving.

Our goal is to help you practice reading so that in the future you can take the jump to the Intermediate Book Club, where more advanced books are being discussed.

Which Book Club?

This book club is intended for people who are just beginning to read native Japanese books and manga, rather than for beginners to Japanese. To be comfortable reading with this book club, you should have a solid understanding of N5 grammar and at least some understanding of N4 grammar. If you’re at that level (or don’t mind putting in more effort), then you should fit in great. If you’re not at that level yet, check out the Absolute Beginner Book Club. If you’re well above that level, consider trying the Intermediate Book Club.

The easiest way to judge which Book Club is right for you is to check out the sample pages provided with the nominations (links below under Current Proposals). If you’re thinking of joining in with the next pick, there’s a link to the sample pages near the very top of this post. Remember that your fellow book club members will be there to help you out!

If you are interested, just grab a copy of the upcoming book (we usually vote 5-6 weeks before finishing the current pick) and join in the discussion! You can always read previously selected books with the help of past discussion threads too; feel free to ask new questions!

Proposed Books

Any suggestions are welcome, so feel free to nominate something you’d like to read using the template below! Books suggested must be appropriate for relative beginners though; please read the guidelines before making a nomination.

Guidelines for Proposing Books

Guidelines courtesy of fl0rm (with some tweaks).

  • Nominate something you are ready to read

    • This is a big cooperative group, but there’s always a minority keeping things active. If your pick wins, there’ll be some expectation that you contribute throughout.
    • If you can’t read your own sample pages (at least mostly) you may not be able to judge the difficulty effectively, and won’t be able to help others much.
  • Books nominated must not be longer than 200 pages

    • Our reading pace means this is the longest we could tackle within a reasonable timeframe.
    • A book of short stories can be longer: we will only pick select stories (a good way of tackling book-like content).
  • Do not nominate anything clearly NSFW

    • This can be hard to judge without reading the book, but if you’d associate the work with fanservice or gore, even if just by reputation, please don’t suggest it for this group.
  • Furigana does not imply something is easy (or vice versa)

    • It’s useful to note the presence or absence of furigana in your nomination, but don’t equate it directly with difficulty: it’s a factor. Some publishers always use furigana, some never use furigana.
  • Try to pick something reasonably well-known

    • This will increase the reader pool as more people will be interested / already have a copy.
    • People will be more able to re-sell or pass along their copy after reading.
    • Popular works often have simpler and more accessible language.
    • The likelihood of English translations is higher, providing extra support for understanding the text.
    • Some participants may have already read it, and themes are probably broadly understood, making it easier for members to help each other and for readers to draw inferences from context.
  • Slice-of-life and drama is safer than fantasy

    • You might not be specifically interested in the genre, but slice-of-life and drama tend to focus on human interaction in a real-life setting, providing both a low barrier to entry for new readers and high returns on time invested.
    • Fantasy and sci-fi often feature info-dumps and long monologues, which are difficult and off-putting for beginners, as well as niche, esoteric and even unique vocabulary.
    • There are of course always exceptions, both ways.
Proposal Template

Copy this template into a new post when proposing a book/manga.

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 previews from e.g. Amazon, BookWalker, eBookJapan. Make sure the text is legible!

# Insert Title Here

## Summary
Insert summary from Amazon/Wikipedia/MyAnimeList/wherever here.

## Availability
Insert link to book on here.
Insert link(s) to ebook here, or mention if an ebook is not available.

## Personal Opinion
Insert why you think this book would be good to read, personally and for the book club here.

### Pros and Cons for the Book Club
#### Pros
* Insert pros here.
#### Cons
* Insert cons here.

## Pictures

[details=“First Three Pages of Chapter One”]
Insert images here (can be photos from you or the internet, or from ebook previews).

[details=“Additional Pages”]
Insert a few more images here - try to make them representative.

## Difficulty Poll
How much effort would you need to read this book?

[poll type=regular public=true]
* No effort at all
* Minimal effort
* Just right
* Challenging
* Impossible, even with everyone’s help
* I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)

List of Removed Nominations

Current Proposals

The nomination posts linked under each entry will give you further information, including sample pages.

Difficulty is scored from the average of votes cast by book club members; each nomination has a poll.
Last updated: 2019-01-16

Manga - Nordic Girl Åsa Discovers the Mysteries of Japan


Nomination Post

Convenience store onigiri are way too handy! Why is it that Japanese girls can call just about anything “cute?” The guys at host bars are so hot, they’re like real-life anime characters! These are only some of the mysteries Swedish manga artist Åsa Ekström discovers in this journal comic about her journey from Scandinavia to Japan, which is jam-packed with surprises and laughs!

Amazon JP | CDJapan | eBook Japan
English Version | Author’s Blog

Difficulty: 2.33 [12 votes]

Manga - One Week Friends


Nomination Post

High schooler Yūki Hase notices that his classmate Kaori Fujimiya is always alone and seemingly has no friends. After approaching her and becoming better acquainted, Kaori reveals that every Monday she loses all memory of her friends. Despite learning this, Yūki endeavors to befriend her anew every week.

Amazon JP | CDJapan | eBook Japan

Difficulty: 2.38 [21 votes]

Manga - Laid-Back Camp


Nomination Post

Rin likes to go camping by herself along the lakes that provide a scenic view of Mt. Fuji. Nadeshiko is determined to see Mt. Fuji after just moving to the area. After they meet, Rin and Nadeshiko take camping trips, eat cup ramen together, and enjoy the scenery.

Amazon JP | CDJapan | BookWalker | eBook Japan

Difficulty: 2.70 [17 votes]

Manga - Haikyuu!!


Nomination Post

Junior HS student Shōyō Hinata gains a sudden love of volleyball after seeing a national championship match on TV. Although short in height, he becomes determined to follow in the footsteps of the “Little Giant”. However, his dreams are destroyed in his first official match, where his team suffers a crushing defeat against the championship favourites, including so-called “King of the Court” Tobio Kageyama. Hinata vows to defeat Kageyama, only for the two to wind up as unlikely team mates.

Amazon JP | CDJapan | eBook Japan

Difficulty: 2.62 [8 votes]

Manga - Naruto


Nomination Post

With a richly detailed background, complex, sympathetic characters, superb action and a main character who somehow balances tragedy with comedy, this is a series that delivers in every way. So strap on your leaf headband and join the oddest ninja in town. You won’t regret it.

Amazon JP | CDJapan | eBook Japan

Difficulty: 2.85 [13 votes]

Manga - Dragonball (The Complete Edition)


Nomination Post

Dragon Ball, initially inspired by the classical Chinese novel Journey to the West, follows the adventures of the protagonist Son Goku from his childhood through adulthood. He trains in martial arts and explores the world in search of the seven Dragon Balls, which summon a wish-granting dragon when gathered. Along his journey, Goku makes several friends and battles a wide variety of villains, many of whom also seek the Dragon Balls.

Amazon JP | CDJapan | Amazon eBook | eBook Japan
Note: the first three volumes of the eBook are required to match The Complete Edition

Difficulty: 3.00 [14 votes]

Manga - Attack on Titan


Nomination Post

In this post-apocalytpic sci-fi story, humanity has been devastated by the bizarre, giant humanoids known as the Titans. Little is known about where they came from or why they are bent on consuming mankind. Seemingly unintelligent, they have roamed the world for years, killing everyone they see. For the past century, what’s left of man has hidden in a giant, three-walled city. People believe their 100-meter-high walls will protect them from the Titans, but the sudden appearance of an immense Titan is about to change everything. Winner of the 2011 Kodansha Manga Award (Shonen) and nominated for the prestigious Osamu Tezuka Cultural Prize for 2012.

Amazon JP | eBook Japan | Amazon eBook

Difficulty: 2.85 [13 votes]

Manga - Great Detective Conan


Nomination Post

Shinichi Kudou, a great mystery expert at only seventeen, gets into trouble after witnessing some disturbing illegal activity. Dosed with an experimental drug and left to die, he is astonished to live and wake up in the body of a seven-year-old. Hiding his identity, he takes on the alias of Conan Edogawa…

Amazon JP | CDJapan | eBook Japan | Amazon eBook

Difficulty: 3.29 [14 votes]

Book - Scary Lessons


Nomination Post

A girl, Yomi - a creature without legs - leads us through a world of horror, which slumbers in the midst of everyday life and lies in wait to pounce on the unsuspecting. Terrible things will happen to anyone foolish enough to tangle with it!

Amazon | eBook Japan

Difficulty: 3.29 [21 votes]

Book - Porepore Nikki!


Nomination Post

Sometimes, I feel like I can’t understand myself. According to others, I may act really confident and then become timid right afterwards. I’m Asahina Yuzu and I have entered Ryuusei Academy Junior HS, which has the dance club I longed for and Ren-senpai. Ooi-chan is really cool. Momo-chan’s smile is cute enough to make friends with anyone. Am I the only one who doesn’t have any confidence? But! I’ll do my best to be selected for the dance club’s “galaxy” team! Friendship, love, club activities… it all starts from here! This is the start of my junior high school life!

Amazon JP | CDJapan | eBook Japan

Difficulty: 2.94 [17 votes]

Where to Purchase Books

This section explains where to buy Japanese books in general.

Purchasing Japanese Books

Physical 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. 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.


  • Amazon JP (Kindle-compatible)
  • eBook Japan (doesn’t show tax until checkout; not Kindle-compatible)
  • Book Walker (accepts paypal)
  • Honto (mobile reader app is region-locked – on Android get an APK, on iOS use JP App Store; not Kindle-compatible)

If purchasing eBooks from Amazon JP gives you trouble, check out sirvorn’s wonderful guide on purchasing eBooks from Amazon JP.

Historic Polls

"Next Book" Polls

Winner links go to the original nominations.

Other Polls

What level can I start reading books?
Genki Study Buddies - 「皆さんはGenkiを勉強しています」
Intermediate Japanese Book Club (Now Reading: Kino's Journey; Next: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya & Convenience Store Woman)
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki's Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 1
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 7
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 11 [Final Chapter!]
Looking for some recommendations
夏目友人帳 - Natsume’s Book of Friends: Chapter 1 Discussion
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 10
Trying to Get Fluent In Japanese?
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 4
少女終末旅行: Chapter 9 Discussion [start of volume 2]
少女終末旅行: Chapter 8 Discussion [end of volume 1]
少女終末旅行: Chapter 7 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Chapter 6 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Chapter 5 Discussion
When and how?
少女終末旅行: Chapter 4 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Chapter 3 Discussion
少女終末旅行: Chapter 2 Discussion
少女終末旅行 Home Thread (Beginner Book Club)
少女終末旅行: Chapter 1 Discussion
Example Sentence Breakdown
時をかける少女: Week 13 Discussion (Chapters 22 and 23 [END])
時をかける少女: Week 12 Discussion (Chapters 20 and 21)
時をかける少女: Week 11 Discussion (Chapters 18 and 19)
Suggested reading? - I made it to level 10!
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki's Delivery Service) Home Thread - Beginner's Book Club
時をかける少女: Week 10 Discussion (Chapters 16 and 17)
夏目友人帳 - Natsume's Book of Friends Home Thread (Beginner Book Club)
よつばと!Vol 1 Discussion Thread (Beginner's Book Club)
のんのんびより Home Thread (Beginner Book Club)
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 27.5 (Special Navigation) Discussion
時をかける少女: Week 9 Discussion (Chapters 14 and 15)
Absolute Beginner Book Club: Home Thread (Currently Reading: しろくまカフェ)
時をかける少女: Week 1 Discussion (Chapter 1)
時をかける少女: Week 2 Discussion (Chapter 2)
時をかける少女: Week 3 Discussion (Chapter 3)
時をかける少女: Week 4 Discussion (Chapters 4 and 5)
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 27 Discussion
時をかける少女: Week 8 Discussion (Chapters 12 and 13)
Wanikani Confessions
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 26 Discussion
時をかける少女: Week 7 Discussion (Chapters 10 and 11)
時をかける少女: Week 5 Discussion (Chapters 6 and 7)
時をかける少女: Week 6 Discussion (Chapters 8 and 9)
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 25 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 24 Discussion
My Journey of 368 days (+ The Ultimate Guide for WK :open_book: )
時をかける少女 Home Thread (Beginner Book Club)
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 23 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 22 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 21 Discussion
夏目友人帳 - Natsume’s Book of Friends: Chapter 4 Discussion
夏目友人帳 - Natsume’s Book of Friends: Chapter 3 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 20 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 19 Discussion
夏目友人帳 - Natsume’s Book of Friends: Chapter 2 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 18 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 17 Discussion (+ Special Navigation: 社長の日常)
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 16 Discussion
のんのんびより: おまけ (volume 1)
のんのんびより: ユメのユメ (volume 1)
のんのんびより: Chapter 9 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 8 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 15 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 7 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 6 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 14 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 13 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 5 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 4 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 3 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 2 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 12 Discussion
のんのんびより: Chapter 1 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 11 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 10 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 9 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 8 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 7 Discussion
Resources for Starting to Read Japanese Content
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 6 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 5 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 4 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 3 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 2 Discussion
Aria the Masterpiece: Chapter 1 Discussion
[5/16 New article] - A WK-friendly website for reading
Intermediate Japanese Book Club (Now Reading: Kino's Journey; Next: The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya & Convenience Store Woman)
Trial Period Graduation
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 9
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 8
Feeling Unmotived
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 6
少女終末旅行: Chapter 10 Discussion
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 2
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 3
魔女の宅急便 (Kiki’s Delivery Service) Discussion Thread: Chapter 5

A list of quick suggestions of books/manga for the first pool:

Please, if you have any suggestions, do say so. I made this list based on what I’ve seen considered as “easiest to read” around the Internet/Japanese learning community. I think it’s better to hear some suggestions from everyone before creating the pool that will decide the first book. I’ve heard that sports related stuff are also beginner friendly (Baby steps & Haikyuu!). Doraemon seems also to be a good option…

Also, feel free to let me know if there’s something that you don’t agree with :slight_smile:


Since I just ordered “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time,” but am also already committed to 秋の牢獄 for the next round of the other club, I guess I’ll just pop in and say hi now, and hope that “The Girl Who Leapt Through Time” doesn’t get picked right away. I may be nuts, but I’m pretty sure I can’t handle two book clubs at once.

I’m excited to see this starting, and I hope those who don’t feel ready for the original club will find a place here!


I have recently orderer yotsuba& and found it pretty entertaining and easily readable. I would be totally in for that one :slight_smile:


Since I just bough the whole series for 絶叫学級 I’m hoping it might be picked :wink:
It seems like a very good beginner book, with easy language and furigana (which is good only while on lower levels, which many of us still are)

I have been considering Yotsuba too though, as I’ve seen it on so many lists for beginners =)

Bought Yotsuba. Whether or not we pick it doesn’t mater, I have been thinking of buying it for so long anyway =) Found complete set at bargain price on eBay, free shipping!
時をかける少女 too, hey, if it is good for beginners, just as well grab it =) Got it of eBay for a fair price.
しろくまカフェ as well, I’ve seen it on more than one list of recommended mangas, founda set for a decent and low price on eBay.

4/5 (current suggestions) bought =) None in possession, though one bought before list :wink:
Himouto! I’m skipping on for now, and won’t have my vote as first book. Might be doable later when higher level due to not using furigana much.


I’ve seen the other book club, and always thought it looked like fun. I’m still super beginner, but if we were reading something easy I would love to do my best. I think I have a lot to learn before I can read without looking up words and grammar all the time, but even if I have to look up every other word, I still think want to give it a try! I think it would be good for my learning and very motivating for me to have something to read in Japanese laying around.

I’ll add myself to the members list for now.

I’m interested in Yotsuba because I’ve heard it’s one of the easier books, but I’ll try to read anything.

By the way, where do you think is the best place to order books for me living in Sweden? Is it possible to order stuff from and have them shipped overseas?

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I’m able to buy from there, and I’m from Norway. I can’t seem to get free shipping anymore (always over 100Nok in shipping =/ )
I got Yotsuba of eBay instead, full series for 500Nok, free shipping.

I would like to recommend Chi’s Sweet home. It too, like Yotsuba, has easy language and a child as main character (the child is a cat, but still a child :wink: There’s an actual child too =P ) It has an easy yet fun plot that makes you feel for the characters, and the story is quite interesting. I have seen it on lists for beginners, and of my reading material it is one of the less strained readings I have without meaning to be (as in, it has natural language, yet is easy to follow) The language is about things happening around the house and family.

I would not, however, recommend Doraemon. I bought it cause it was made to be bilingual, and though made for Japanese people it could work the other way… No, not really. The Japanese text is very small and little to no furigana as it was meant for adults. I’m not able to read the Japanese part of those. The small Japanese text is set outside the frames while the English is in the text bubbles. I haven’t even gotten around to reading the English part of it yet. Much better to buy both versions of some other manga and read side by side.

Personally I love trying to read Naruto in Japanese. It feels t me just the same as Chi, cause I already know the lingo :wink:
For those not used to the series it would be much harder. They keep a lot of the Japanese parts in the scanlations of the mangas and in the subtitles of the anime, as well as being repeated so much that you end up knowing a lot of the phrases and specific ninja words they use in Japanese.

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A good resource we could use to find something good might be, as it provides you with sample sentences of the work that you check so it tells you how hard it might end up being.


I wouldn’t be upset if we went with Yotsuba. I love manga and I hear Yotsuba is incredibly cute. Since I already love manga (I read a lot of manga but I’ve only read english translations so far), I think it’d be cool if my first book I read in Japanese (from cover to cover, anyway) is a manga. Plus, since everyone says Yotsuba is so simple, I would probably be able to have time to participate while still studying Genki like I want to. So if we go with Yotsuba as the first book, I’ll start participating now instead of waiting until next year. :slight_smile:

Though, I do also want to read “actual” books so I would want to go with something other than manga for our second book.

Whatever we decide to go with, I hope someone will post some links of good places to purchase from?


I checked out Himouto!, found photos of the actual pages. Since it doesn’t use much furigana it will be good for high levels but bad for lower levels. Didn’t buy it for now.

I do hope we try actual books as well, though I wouldn’t mind going with a manga as the first one and book as second =)


よつばと! is a very entertaining book. The grammar and the vocabulary are fine but it should be said that there’re some informal particles or sentence structures which should be discussed. Also, keep in mind that Yotsuba pronounces the words long so don’t be confused when you see strokes in words =)

Oh yeah, I know a website which ships for free (over 39 bucks). But keep in mind that the prizes for individual books are more expensive.


Sure! This isn’t supposed to be a manga club. The problem is that what we associate as children books in the West, 日本人 associate with manga. That’s also why it’s important that everyone shares any extra book suggestions they might have :slight_smile:

From what I researched on google/forums, seems to be the place to go to order books in Japanese. That’s why I linked only from Amazon in the suggestions that I gave. Not sure if there’s better places out there though.


Kiki’s Delivery Service (魔女の宅急便)might be nice!

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I sometimes grab the same book through for a better price on shipping (doesn’t always work, but sometimes)
And eBay is always a good place to check. Not as easily linked as most will be one of, sold and gone. But do have a search there when looking =)


I’d be up for either よつばと or The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Although I’m hesitantly skeptical about how easy TGWLTT will be to read for beginners, based on my hazy memory of the movie.


I voted for that one in the previous vote on the original Book club! =D
Just cause I know the story, which is a good bonus (Ghibli Movie)
I should grab it too, to check it out =)

Edit: bought the set just as well. Found it at decent price on Amazon jp


Only a small amount of items can be shipped internationally. But it is possible to get it shipped for an extra fee by choosing a seller for used books and mailing them for a international shipping request.

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Really? Every book I’ve tried and bought (four so far) was easy to get through JP Amazon.


Omg, I’m sorry, I’m so dumb. I didn’t realize you already had provided those links in the other post… I read the titles but for some reason it didn’t click in my head that they were links to purchase them. xD

So, thank you, you already did what I was asking. xD My bad!

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From what I remember reading the book (in Swedish) the movie and the book(s) are quite different. Ghibli (Miyazaki) usually deviates quite a bit from the source material when they do an interpretation. Nothing bad with that, just putting it out there.

I like both versions though, might have give the book a read in Japanese!

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