I read my first book 🎉 (and have stats to share)

Indeed, my experience has been that pretty much every new book contains hitherto unseen kanji :slight_smile:

While the kanji WK teaches you will account for 99% or so of the ones you run into, that last 1% is actually made up of thousands more! They just don’t appear very often and often in only one common word!

EDIT: And most importantly: congratulations on your achievement!


Yeah, it’s weird. The physical kindle can find the right word given any of the inflections, but the Kindle app won’t. If it’s not in dictionary form it struggles. I end up just copy/pasting to Jisho.

I searched back in my list and it looks like it appeared in the word 地下牢 which makes sense!


Wow, you’re amazing! That makes a lot of sense indeed, even for my blurred memory :wink:

I only knew that kanji in the context of “prison” so far, and I was sure you did read the Sorcerer’s Stone, not the Prisoner of Azkaban :wink:

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OMG Thank you so much for writing about your reading journey. And congrats on finishing the book.

I too started reading 賢者の石 at the beginning of 2021. I’m aiming for about a chapter a week, and just seeing your stats and how much you got better at reading over the course of the book gives me confidence that I can get through it.


Thank you for blessing us with your first post on the WaniKani forums! And good luck with reading the rest of the book - keep at it. :nerd_face::zap:

If you weren’t aware already, there’s an ongoing book club to read ハリー・ポッターと賢者の石. They are on chapter 9 at the moment which might be a bit further ahead than you are. But you might find the discussions from the previous chapters interesting as you progress through the book.

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That’s amazing - congrats!! The graphs make me so happy. What did you use to make them?

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Thank you! :blush: I just used Google Sheets as that was where I was tracking everything.


That’s AMAZING!! You should be more proud of yourself! Most choose easier books to begin with!
I have a few questions if you don’t mind…

1- What level were you in WK when you started?

2- How did you searched for unknown Kanjis?

3 - Was WK the main reason you were able to read the book? If not, what other resources do you praise?

4 - In the first pages, did you thought about giving up?

Thx for sharing! Would love some more pictures of the book! Im not really a big fan of HP, but my girlfriend REALLY is, I gave her 3 or 4 of those illustrated version books (in portuguese though). Looks amazing in Japanese!


That’s pretty impressive!

I personally prefer when texts use lots of kanji, cause these are faster to read somehow? I really struggle with katakana, though ^^".


Level 27 when I started. Level 35 by the time I finished.

Good question. Often there would be furigana which mean that I could search Jisho easily. When there was no furigana, I used three different methods:

  1. If it was a jukugo word, I could sometimes guess at the reading of the kanji based on the radicals it was made up of. I could then check to see if that word existed in the dictionary.
  2. If the kanji looked similar to one that I had learned on WaniKani before, I would check to see if it’s listed in the Visually Similar Kanji section.
  3. I used the Kanji Study app on my phone to select the kanji radicals and it would list all the kanji that includes all of them.

WaniKani is the only resource I use to study kanji so without it, I would have been really lost reading Harry Potter! However, I don’t think the vocab you learn through WaniKani is sufficient to tackle the book without looking up even more words than I did.

In terms of vocab, I couldn’t given you an accurate number of how many words I knew (I don’t use Anki). Because I was able to “immerse” (at least in terms of listening) from right at the start of my studies, I’ve picked up a fair amount listening to Japanese podcasts, watching "Let’s Play"s, watching animes, and reading NHK Easy News. I’ve been reading every article since May last year and by the time I started reading Harry Potter, I think I only struggled with one or two words per article?

Likewise with grammar, I’m bad at using the right grammar when speaking but never really had an issue understanding someone else. By the time I started Harry Potter, I had finished Genki 1 and 2 and started Tobira but these felt more like me reviewing grammar than learning it for the first time.

Yeah, I’d say the first spike in the graph (around the middle of chapter 1), it felt like it would take forever to finish. But I’m very stubborn when it comes to sticking to goals I’ve set so I just powered through. It helps if you tell everyone you know beforehand that you’re going to achieve X by Y date.

Oh! Is the Portugese illustrated version different? I assumed they would all be the same because the Japanese one has the same illustrations as the English one.


Well done Helena, I really enjoyed your blog and how you illustrated it, especially the Jakub Marian map, as language facility across the EU is something I have often wondered about.
Your post is very inspiring as I try to get back into Japanese.
I look forward to hearing more from you.

Can you let us know where you got the illustrated Harry Potter Book?


Its the same book, same pictures! But from the looks, it appears way cooler with kana + kanji!

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Thank you, glad you enjoyed it! I got my copy from Amazon Japan. I got multiple books at a time because the cost of shipping is pretty expensive.

Thanks, perhaps consider mentioning that in your blog and also add an affiliate link. I look forward to reading more,

I had a look at your blog post and saw the photo of the book. It’s super nice that they add furigana! I think I would get totally lost when reading manga without it.

Well done on your extensive language research!!!

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Your post is inspiring and has interesting data. I’ve been through the first pages of a book hell swamp before and I know the feeling of the brain hurting and I know that I should just keep on going. But I’ve started a quite advanced book, 雪国 and I’ve been thinking of putting it aside for later because it gives me headaches. Your post made me decide to give it one more try :wink:

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Not sure if you still need this but Kindle Unlimited has all Japanese HP books available as part of the subscription for ‘free’ in the UK.


That is quite an advanced book!

I’m glad I’ve inspired you to try it again. It is worth seeing if you can get through the first 10 pages. If you don’t make as much progress as you like and it’s still headache inducing, you can find another book. I wish you the best of luck with it! :snowflake:

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Congratulations! That’s an awesome step!
My lazy butt keeps saying I’ll start a real book soon, but continues to be anxious about it and just read short stories or Satori reader fffff. :face_with_hand_over_mouth: