Congrats! I just fumbled my way through “Sakura” two nights ago.
The readers have the cd so you can listen along (and more recently I found you can download mp3s of them all from the publisher’s website (especially since the later books have more than 70 minutes of audio), if that helps at all.
Consider also trying out this site, which has a bunch of books ranked on how hard they are to read. You can probably only read the easiest ones, thus far, and they’re not exactly thrilling, but they’ll get you used to sentence structure.
As you can see I have reached Level , 60. But I only started reading books when I got to Level 60, well so far half way through my first book. It is a children´s book, with few kanji, mostly hiragana/katakana.
I have very little idea what is going on, just hoping to eventually make a breakthrough by osmosis. Or divine inspiration lol. Muzukashii desu neeeee…
A lot of people have given you good advice in this thread (join the book clubs), but I’m going to suggest something slightly different, which is: don’t worry about it so much. You sound like you really want to get reading, so I would just read, looking up vocab where you have to. If it’s a word you think will be useful in the future, add it to your SRS, sure. But otherwise, don’t worry about it too much - if it’s a common word, and you keep reading, you’ll hit it again sooner rather than later. This is probably how you learned to read in English, right?
Also, regarding your annoyance over the disparity of 咲 being at WK level 48 and reader level 0 - totally understandable, but I would also advise that, provided you have furigana, don’t worry about it too much. The alternative is that the author just writes it out in hiragana (like a lot of kids books do) and then you have the nightmare of trying to work out where words begin and end, or whether they meant 咲, 裂, 避, サク, etc. You’ll be grateful for the kanji in the long run!
It seems that part of your problem comes from the fact that you want to understand every sentences from the start, and that’s just not realistic.
My advice would be to start reading mangas and read them in one go without looking up the vocabulary too much. That way you’ll increase your reading speed and chances are you’ll learn vocabulary along from the context and repetition. If you know enough grammar, you can spot grammar patterns without knowing the vocabulary. For example, spotting the passive/causative at the end of a sentence. Once you’ve done a read through you can do another reading and this time look up more of the words, or you can just move on to another book.
The books I’ve been using to practice reading are the Shirokuma Cafe ones, and I really recommend them to any beginner! The vocabulary is mostly everyday life stuff and even though it’s probably mainly aimed at school children, the humour isn’t childish either.