Intermediate Japanese Book Club (Coming Soon: 地球星人)

I understand - I read the nomination post, and I’m not begrudging the nomination (I even said I’d like to read it). It just seemed to be a pretty easy read to me, at least based on the sample pages. If it’s relatively easy in terms of grammar and vocabulary, but comes across as more difficult mainly because of cultural references (or at least if that’s the assumption we’re making based on Nichijou), it seems like it falls in kind of weird void between beginner and intermediate content. And if that means it ends up in the IBC, I wouldn’t be the one to object to it. I was mostly just making conversation/reacting to the nomination.

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I think it’s important to raise questions like these, so thank you! (I was wondering about that as well tbh and did not have the Nichijou background info either). Of course it’s not the end of the world if we happen to read an easier manga in the IBC but I think it’s good to reflect on the general level we‘re aiming for from time to time.

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Honestly I haven’t read City–I’m going completely off of my experience with Nichijou. I would expect in the IBC we’d read a volume in just a few weeks as opposed to the BBC’s 10 though, which would add to the intermediate-ness. Even though the content was difficult at times in Nichijou, it still wasn’t very time consuming because there were a ton of visual gags and not many long written passages. Honestly any manga would probably be a little bit on the easier side compared to the books this club typically reads (which I don’t think is such a bad thing for a brief interlude at least).

For a bit more discussion and a few more perspectives on the difficulty check out the end-of-volume thread.

Also, it does indeed look cute as heck.

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To be honest I had an easier time reading コンビニ人間 than I did with 日常 (which I gave up on after a few weeks), because with コンビニ人間 you can at least get a sense of whether you have understood the sentence or not depending on how much sense it makes. With 日常 there were tonnes of things I didn’t get and I had no idea if that was due to my Japanese or due to the humour being completely absurd. Reading 日常 felt more like ploughing through to me… but ultimately it’s a very personal thing, I guess.

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This makes sense - I have the same issue when reading lots of things. Not even necessarily only because of absurd humor either. A lot of times in a book or manga, a writer will intentionally leave certain things vague because a reader is not yet meant to know something. Maybe a mystery is building, or maybe it takes place in a fantasy/sci-fi setting where we’re meant to discover the “mechanics” of the world as we go. In my native language, these are easy to pick up and I can be completely confident that it’s not a language issue - I’m simply not understanding because I’m not meant to. But of course, in a foreign language, it’s difficult to have that same confidence. Am I not understanding because I’m not supposed to or because I’m simply misreading/misinterpreting the language?

This is even more difficult in Japanese since it is so context dependent in the first place - sometimes things aren’t explicitly stated because the language gives you the flexibility to drop already apparent information. So that gives foreign readers a third possibility when seemingly misunderstanding something - maybe I should already know from context and I missed something from the previous sentence/dialogue/etc. :sweat_smile:

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Hey I just wanted to remind folks that the next Murata Book Club pick is starting next week! If you haven’t read anything by Murata yet, now’s the perfect opportunity to start. If you have read a Murata book before, then I assume you’re probably already planning to read with us (because why wouldn’t you be looking for every chance to read another?).

If you want to join but don’t think you could get a copy on time, feel free to vote in the start-date poll to potentially delay a week.

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If you’ve ever wanted to read a bit faster than the Intermediate Book Club, or wanted to read more difficult material, there’s the Advanced Book Club for you! We are currently voting for the next pick, and we will start reading it from Sept 18th. Hop right in if you’re interested :slight_smile:

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We are planning a new intermediate level book club, かがみの孤城. We are aiming to start sometime between September 25th and November 6th.

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Once again we’re getting closer to the end of our current pick, and we will start our next pick on October 23rd! The only thing that’s left is to determine this next pick :grin: For this I will start our next poll next week, probably on Wednesday.

Do you want your favourite book to be part of the next poll? Now is the time! Please submit your entry before Wednesday to make sure it will get included. There are 5 free slots for the next poll, so please fire away - first come, first served! A proposal template and other proposal guidelines can be found in the OP.

Looking forward to your fresh and interesting suggestions :slight_smile:

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Retracted
Not sure if I’m nominating in the right place, but, I nominate

獣の奏者

Summary

Japanese

王国の矛盾を背負い、兵器として育成される凶暴な蛇――闘蛇。 各界で話題騒然!傑作ファンタジー巨編、ついに文庫化。 リョザ神王国。闘蛇村に暮らす少女エリンの幸せな日々は、闘蛇を死なせた罪に問われた母との別れを境に一転する。母の不思議な指笛によって死地を逃れ、蜂飼いのジョウンに救われて九死に一生を得たエリンは、母と同じ獣ノ医術師を目指すが――。苦難に立ち向かう少女の物語が、いまここに幕を開ける!.

English

epic YA fantasy about a girl with a special power to communicate with magical beasts and the warring kingdom only she can save.

Elin’s family has an important responsibility: caring for the fearsome water serpents that form the core of their kingdom’s army. So when some of the beasts mysteriously die, Elin’s mother is sentenced to death as punishment. With her last breath she manages to send her daughter to safety.

Alone, far from home, Elin soon discovers that she can talk to both the terrifying water serpents and the majestic flying beasts that guard her queen. This skill gives her great powers, but it also involves her in deadly plots that could cost her life. Can she save herself and prevent her beloved beasts from being used as tools of war? Or is there no way of escaping the terrible battles to come? .

Availability

Amazon

BookWalker

Booklive

Personal Opinion

I listened to the English version as an audiobook and thought it was imaginative & exciting, with interesting characters, and a generally positive vibe. It’s a YA fantasy novel, which I wanted to see more of in the nominations list.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • A novel targeted at young readers, so probably a good reading level?
  • Strong female protagonist.

Cons

  • At 317 pages (ebook estimate), it’s a bit long, but that
    Seems to include Q&A with the author.

Pictures

Sample Pages



Additional Pages



Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Significant effort
  • So much effort my head might explode
  • I don’t know

0 voters

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We already read the first two books (which form a complete story) in a book club, which you can find in the master list. We read it separate from the intermediate book club because of the length (particularly book two). You’re welcome to nominate it here I guess, but I’m not sure what level of interest you’d get since it hasn’t been that long since we read it.

Regardless of whether you keep the nomination or not, I definitely recommend reading it. The first two books are very good and pretty accessible at the intermediate level.

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You are! :blush:

We usually look at the number of pages in the printed book as given by Amazon, and that says 360 pages, so it would be over our limit of (300-)350 pages…
Also if you look at the schedule in the original book club, it took us 20 weeks with many weeks being over the standard 15 page mark (because we read one chapter per week), so it would probably be even longer with a schedule that is closer to what we usually have here…

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Ah, then I will probably just add it to my “on my own” list. At least there’s a thread to join :slight_smile:
How should I officially retract a nomination?

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For me it’s fine like it is - I will just not add your nomination to the list in the OP, and that list is all that matters to me in the end when compiling the poll.

(You could as well delete your post but that will make the subsequent conversation a bit awkward… If you feel the need to make it very visible, you could maybe just add the word „Retracted“ to the nomination heading or something.)

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TUGUMI

Author: 吉本ばなな (Yoshimoto Banana)

Summary

Japanese

病弱で生意気な美少女つぐみ。彼女と姉妹のように育った海辺の小さな町に帰省した私は、まだ淡い夜の始まりに、つぐみとともにふるさとの最後のひと夏を過ごす少年に出会った――。少女から大人へと移りゆく季節の、二度とかえらないきらめきを描く、切なく透明な物語。第二回山本周五郎賞受賞作。

English

Tsugumi is a sickly but feisty and somewhat unpleasant young girl living in a small Japanese seaside town at the family inn with her parents, sister Yoko, aunt Masako, and cousin Maria (the protagonist). Following the divorce of Maria’s father, Maria and Masako move to Tokyo to be with him, where Maria attends university. Shortly after the move, Maria receives a call from Tsugumi to say that the family are selling the inn. Maria returns to the town for one last summer to remember her childhood and reconcile her strained relationship with Tsugumi while she still can. But then they didn’t realize the true display of true will.
(taken from Wikipedia)

Availability

Amazon
Bookwalker

Personal Opinion

We read another book of this author, “Kitchen”, a while ago in this book club, and I thought it might be about time to try some more of her writing. I was a bit torn between this book, which contains one long story, and another one (called とかげ), which contains 6 short stories. In the end I thought that it might be nicer for the book club to have an ongoing story, so it might be easier to settle into the narrative and discuss the ongoing events etc. If we pick and like this one, I might end up nominating the other one at a later point in time :wink:

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • We already read a book by the same author (“Kitchen”), and it was quite well-received
  • Not too long at 245 pages.
  • Won the Yamamoto Shuugorou Prize (which is awarded annually to a new work of fiction considered to exemplify the art of storytelling) in 1989
  • Available in English as “Goodbye Tsugumi”

Cons

  • When reading Kitchen, I sometimes found the author’s way of writing to be a bit vague and thus slightly more difficult to understand than a straightforward narrative.

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One


Additional Pages


Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Moderate effort
  • Significant effort
  • So much effort my head might explode
  • I don’t know

0 voters

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All, if you can spare some time it would be great if you could take a look at the nominations (especially the most recent ones) and rate them for their difficulty!

You can find the links to all active nominations in the OP:

Each nomination contains some sample pages for you to look at, and a poll with which you can rate the perceived difficulty (for you, as of now). These ratings will be displayed in the poll to help inform everybody’s decisions.

Thank you!

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Lots of good looking options!
here you go @NicoleRauch

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Thank you @rodan !

It’s Show Poll Time!

Have a look at the List of Proposed Books section in the first post for details on each book. Every book has a difficulty associated with it (based on book club members voting, thus subjective) out of 5, where 1 means “no effort at all” and 5 means “impossible, even with everyone’s help”. The difficulty is annotated in square brackets after the book’s name.

Do not rely solely on difficulty when making a choice. Please have a look at nomination posts if you haven’t already.

Expected reading pace: We aim to read books at ~15 pages per week (that number might vary a bit throughout, depending on the book’s breaks and chapters). For manga, depending on difficulty and chapter length, we will probably read one to several chapters per week. The pick’s exact reading schedule will be negotiated before the book club kicks off.

Start of Book Club: We will start the next book on Oct 23rd (after a one-week break).

Poll duration: I will close the poll within a week (and most likely before that), whenever it looks like voting has dried up. You can choose up to 5 options .

  • ブギーポップは笑わない [2.94]
  • ポーション頼みで生き延びます! [3.54]
  • All You Need Is Kill [3.4]
  • ifの悲劇 (if no higeki) [2.5]
  • もやしもん - Tales of Agriculture [2.82]
  • ヨコハマ買い出し紀行 [1.82]
  • きらきらひかる [2.63]
  • 日本人の知らない日本語 [2.31]
  • 山と食欲と私 [2.5]
  • くま クマ 熊 ベアー [2.36]
  • 天気の子 [2.64]
  • ガイコツ書店員本田さん (Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san) [2.45]
  • リング [2.67]
  • 地球星人 [2.69]
  • City [2.56]
  • TUGUMI [2]

0 voters

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For my vote I prioritized stuff I knew I wanted to read but wouldn’t get around to for a long time otherwise (since those are the books I’d most likely start participating for), and avoided things I’ve already read or from authors I already knew I definitely wanted to read but maybe wanted to start with a different book,
but that said, ヨコハマ買い出し紀行 and ガイコツ書店員本田さん are both really fun, so +1 recommendation for those whether for a book club or not!

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Theoretically, if a manga were to win the poll, how would we handle it? Would we do it like the BBC and read one volume before moving on to the second place choice? Or would we read a few volumes?