Intermediate Book Recommendations?

I’m posting my own topic on this because my interests might be a bit more specific than other posts Ive glanced at on this.
I’ve reached the point of reading Japanese where I can read a lot of the manga that interests me without too much difficulty and am thinking I should move forward to some short novels or short story collections.
I’m a lit nerd and am primarily interested in classic authors like Soseki, Akutagawa, and Mishima among others. I’m certain reading their works would probably be too much for me right now, though.
Can anyone recommend me any novels or short story collections from contemporary authors like Murakami or Yoshimoto Banana, that are appropriate for intermediate to upper int level but are by literary authors?
My goal is eventually to read novels by authors like Gomikawa and Kawabata in the original so I’d like to start trying to move in that direction.
Maybe I should start by just picking some fun stuff from a young adult section? Not sure!

Have you looked at side by side readers? They’ll have essays and short stories, with English and grammar notes available as you need it.

So when I studied Russian and was working my way through some Russian literature I found the side-by-side readers fairly distracting and too much of a crutch to be used effectively. That is likely a ‘me’ thing and its possible it would not be the same when studying Japanese this time around. I’m instantly wary of them due to that reason though.
Do you have any readers that you can recommend? I live in Japan so I can likely go and find them in a bookshop if they are still in print.

There’s one by Penguin publishing. I have them, but haven’t really read them.

I don’t know what counts as “literary authors” for you, but for relatively easy to understand short stories I really like 星 新一.
In a class for university we also read short stories from 宮沢賢治. His’ might be a bit easier to understand compared to Akutagawa or Mori Ogai since he wrote children’s literature.

Also you could maybe have a look at to check how much you already understand from a certain author (if they’re public domain already).

Also, check out the master list of book clubs here on the forum!


If you look at the Resources thread under “Bilingual Books and Parallel Texts” there are some options you might be interested in.

The Penguin one Saida mentions is there.

There’s also Read Real Japanese, which provides glosses and translation notes rather than a full translation, and you might particularly be interested in Breaking Into Japanese Literature, which has seven full short stories and a focus on classic Japanese Literature (though I think that one provides a full translation and breakdowns).

It might be a good way of gauging the difficulty level / seeing which authors you like.


I don’t know what it means to be a literary author, but perhaps コンビニ人間 is a good pick. It’s among the easier books we’ve read in intermediate book club, while also being one of the more well-liked choices.

It can’t hurt to read at least one young adult book before moving on to more complex works. In which case, maybe you’d be interested in reading 魔女の宅急便 with a book club.


Thanks everyone!

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These are great recs, thank you!

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I should have been more clear but basically I just mean non-genre authors for this purpose. コンビニ人間 seems fun so i’ll be checking that one out! Thanks :slight_smile:

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I enjoyed this one. The main character has a pretty easy to follow internal dialogue and the vocab isn’t too difficult. Overall would recommendo to anyone (not just OP) looking for a lower intermediate level book.


Just picked it up at my local bookstore and will dive in tomorrow! Thanks!

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