Current Book: 銭天堂 - ふしぎ駄菓子屋
Next Book: to be determined!
Tentatively starting 10th August…
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
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!
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.
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
Insert summary from Amazon/Wikipedia/MyAnimeList/wherever here.
Insert link to book on amazon.co.jp 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
* Insert pros here.
* Insert cons here.
[details=“First Three Pages of Chapter One”]
Insert images here (can be photos from you or the internet, or from ebook previews).
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
* Impossible, even with everyone’s help
* I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)
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 (score of 3.38) / long (213 pages)
Moved to the intermediate book club
|ご注文はうさぎですか||Too hard (score of 3.47)
Misc discussion available
|放浪息子||Misc discussion available|
|トラちゃん||Too hard (score of 3.58)|
|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||Being read by the absolute beginners’ club|
|チーズスイートホーム||Being read by the absolute beginners’ club|
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
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!
Difficulty: 2.33 [12 votes]
Manga - One Week Friends
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.
Difficulty: 2.38 [21 votes]
Manga - Laid-Back Camp
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.
Difficulty: 2.70 [17 votes]
Manga - Haikyuu!!
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.
Difficulty: 2.62 [8 votes]
Manga - Naruto
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.
Difficulty: 2.85 [13 votes]
Manga - Dragonball (The Complete Edition)
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.
Difficulty: 3.00 [14 votes]
Manga - Attack on Titan
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.
Difficulty: 2.85 [13 votes]
Manga - Great Detective Conan
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…
Difficulty: 3.29 [14 votes]
Book - Scary Lessons
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!
Difficulty: 3.29 [21 votes]
Book - Porepore Nikki!
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!
Difficulty: 2.94 [17 votes]
Where to Purchase Books
This section explains where to buy Japanese books in general.
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. 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.
"Next Book" Polls
Winner links go to the original nominations.
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!