Hashing out the details for reading Murakami Haruki's 1Q84 (Intermediate/Advanced Book)

Book One Chapter 1: 青豆:見かけにだまされないように Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84

Thought I’d bite the bullet and just get a thread going. I’ve had the book for two years, now, and read a couple chapters. But I never managed to get very far, and my Japanese teacher keeps mentioning to other students that “Saida is reading Murakami”. And I always have to respond I’m really not. So let’s read together, and hopefully we can help each other get through this! I’m a book club virgin, so to speak, and very open to suggestions and improvements!

Here are a couple tags for people who have expressed interest in the last 24 hours: @Belerith @morteasd @NicoleRauch @Kyayna.

Other people, free to join! I think one issue with this book is availability? It’s not on any ebook platforms asfar as I know, so might be hard to come by in time, if you don’t happen to have it already. Thanks to @rwesterhof for providing the ISBN numbers!

1Q84 ISBN-13 hardcover paperback
1 978-4103534228 part 1: 978-4101001593, part 2: 978-4101001609
2 978-4103534235 part 3: 978-4101001616, part 4: 978-4101001623
3 978-4103534259 part 5: 978-4101001630, part 6: 978-4101001647

Things to figure out before starting:

  • Timing. When do we start?
    I’ll start a reading thread in the last weekend of July
  • Pace. How do we break up the book, and how much time do we get to finish each section?
    Two weeks per chapter
  • Resources. Will we start a wordlist? In Excel? Google sheets?
    Probably not necessary/feasible
  • Do we want to do live readings on Discord?
    Not decided yet
  • Probably some more important stuff I can’t think of.

Poll time!

  • Will try my best to read along every step of the way
  • Will read at my own pace
  • Have already read the book, will try my best not to spoil anything
  • Want to read along, but how long does it take to get the book shipped to my front door?
  • Just here for the discussion, not the reading

0 voters

4 Likes

So, I’m just wondering; Will you attempt to read it in japanese? Because if so, I bow my head before you. What a brave task! Is it courage or foolishness, that has led you… Nah, I’m just kidding .
But seriously, I read the book in english, which was already a foreign language to me, and for me, reading something of that caliber in japanese is still lightyears away.

2 Likes

I only managed to read the first part in English, bought it at an airport on a whim. Still, that’s farther than I ever got in Japanese.

2 Likes

I read the three books in English and loved it but I don’t think I’ll be able to follow it at all in Japanese at the moment.

I might give it a try though but how long would it take to deliver to me. Hmm.

2 Likes

Well then, good luck. For me, my WaniKani level also represents my overall japanese level, so I’m really just starting out. I plan on starting my grammar journey once I hit level 10 and with that I’ll attempt to start reading very light light novels and mangas. Hopefully

The more souls, the more joy!

2 Likes

I’d love to say I’d read along with you! I’ve read the book in English but seemingly like everyone else here I think it’s just too many steps ahead of my current Japanese understanding. It’s definitely a Japanese goal. Good luck though! 頑張って!

2 Likes

I started reading it in my mother tongue once but never finished it. I’d be interested to try it in Japanese now.

Any idea approximately what level I should be at for this to be a remotely enjoyable reading experience? :stuck_out_tongue:

2 Likes

I think it’s probably intermediate to upper intermediate. So maybe around N3.

That’s what I would imagine.

I’ve decided, I’m going to try and get a copy anyway because I realise I lent my copy of the books to someone at work about 4 years ago. I’ve moved cities since then.

4 Likes

Since we have at least one person interested in reading who doesn’t have the book at hand, probably we should give it a couple weeks to arrive at least. End of July/beginning of August-ish?

I have trouble keeping it short

I think the weekly scheduling works pretty well, and it’s also the only one I’ve seen in the book clubs that have a schedule. It gives people some leeway to read most of the pages on days they’re less busy, while also being short enough to not diffuse the reading/discussion/questions. I’d be willing to try something else if that’s what we decide on though.

As for pace… I took a look at the 目次, and the chapters are
34-35-27-33-26-27-28-29-23-35-31-29
pages long, the lowest page number being chapter 9 at 23 pages, the highest chapter 2 and 10 at 35.
347/12 makes an average of not quite 29 pages to a chapter.

I am loving having the pace in the 獣の奏者 club be a chapter a week instead of a set pace count, but the average chapter length in those books is much shorter.

So, keeping in mind the intermediate level tag, and that the average weekly reading is 10-15 pages in the main intermediate book club, if we go by chapters instead of page count we could possible go at 2 weeks per chapter, which would set us at 11,5-17,5 pages a week depending.

Or we could go by page count, in which case what’s a speed everyone can see as manageable (with the help of the book club)?

Possible structure of this is a bit dependent on the pace, I think. The 獣 readings on discord take between 1 and 2 hours (because we talk too much :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: also differing chapter lengths) usually, while the リゼロ ones we cap at around 1/1,5 hours because the page count is too high to read all of it.

If enough people want to do it, why not? That said, I’m already part of 2 discord readings, so while I’d possibly join if it’s in a time slot I’m free, there’s no need to match it to my schedule really.

I used the ones for にゃんにゃん探偵団 when I started out reading a bit, but not since then. I think it makes sense for beginner books with a lower word count, and it might get out of hand with a book of this kind? We’ll probably all have different words we don’t know too, adding up to quite a lot of words.

Do you all think it makes sense to keep one?

I’m expecting rather a lot of words I’ll need to look up, but I’ve gotten quite proficient at that if anything. :sweat_smile: My favorite resource when a 辞書/google doesn’t quite cut it is the forums so personally I’m fine without. ^^

5 Likes

I haven’t read any of his novels, but I wouldn’t have expected N3 level… Unless you just mean that that’s just a baseline for not having a rough time. The novel doesn’t use a lot of furigana like it’s aimed at teens, right?

I also haven’t read any, so I can’t speak for the difficulty of his writing in general - flipping through randomly, I landed on a page that had furigana for words like 馴染み 懐かしい 微か 覚醒 嗅覚. Also 身体, though I think that’s just so readers know to read it からだ.

But yeah, it’s aimed at adults,so no excessive furigana from what I could see at a glance.

Keeping in mind that of course no novel intended for Japanese readers will follow the JLPT guidelines, I’ve grown used to thinking in terms of ‘not having (too much of) a rough time’ here. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

3 Likes

I think the „N3 level“ sentiment is just related to grammar (and I agree, as I laid out above). Of course kanji and vocab is way beyond N3 level.

5 Likes

I’m wondering if this is an intermediate read. I’ve read it in English and, while it was not terribly difficult, it has a lot of fairly abstract and strange moments. Book 3 especially is pretty odd and has a discussion of literature in it. Then again, I read it maybe 5 years ago and long before I ever studied any Japanese so I might not be remembering it well enough.

2 Likes

So far I’ve read the first half of 神の子供たち and I found the difficulty to be really varied, with the first story being very smooth sailing, with even a lot of the vocab being at N3 level. But the third story was so crazy that even though I asked somebody with N1 level to help me work through it, at times we both could not make any sense of it. (Which might be more related to the contents than to the grammar, though :woman_shrugging:)

2 Likes

From what I recall, the book clubs don’t use “beginner” and “intermediate” as a reference to language level, but book reading level.

That is to say, a beginner book is well beyond a beginner language learner’s level, and so on.

3 Likes

Rhanks for doing all that practical work! A chapter a week works out to 4 or 5 pages a day, including notes that’s quite a time commitment! With this in mind, I think two weeks per chapter might be manageable? This does mean the first book at 12 chapters, will take more than 5 months to get through. Which is still a lot better than what I’ve managed so far.

Sounds good to me, I have holidays planned pretty much all of July. And it’ll give me a chance to establish a routine for my N1 study as well.

I think with a book like this, we couldn’t possibly read the whole book page by page. But if, for example a chapter prompted a lot of discussion on grammar or plot, after it’s all been hashed out and oretty much understood, maybe a reread together would be useful? So, basically plan them as the need arises, but keep the option open?

I think N3 is a nice baseline for the grammar on a paragraph by paragraph basis, but the sheer density of text, and lack of furigana might put it in the N2 camp?

1 Like

I also love the “one chapter a week” pacing of Kemono, and I think here two weeks per chapter sounds like a very good pace.

Sounds good to me! (And gives me some incentive to squeeze in this other book I want to read before that… but I digress :sweat_smile:)

Why do you think so? That’s what we did with Kemono, and it’s exactly the same length. Or did you think of other factors other than the length of the text?

Personally I’m not sure whether I’d want to join a Read Aloud session, mainly because it’s quite time-consuming; not only the session itself but also the preparations I’d probably need (glances at WK level).

If you consider vocab and kanji, then it’s definitely above N3 level. But I must say I’ve never found the JLPT vocab to be sufficient for book reading (not even for elementary school children’s books), so I usually just look at the grammar level. But if you feel better with putting this book into the Advanced category, then please feel free! Or maybe don’t put a category yet (or set it to “Intermediate/Advanced” as a rough guidance), and let’s get back to it once we have read some part, so we can determine the category in a more informed manner?

4 Likes

Mostly that it’s time consuming :wink:

We could do this. It might be motivational for people looking for a challenge, but off putting for people insecure about their level. But I guess accurate info up front would be better in any case. Let’s go with this for now!

2 Likes

Oh, for Kemono the reading time itself is not that bad - probably an hour or a bit more if it’s a long chapter (the longest one is 24 pages iirc), but we tend to have a lot of more or less unrelated chit-chat :innocent:

(BTW if you want to get an impression, feel free to join us: 2020-06-28T13:00:00Z)

4 Likes