Intermediate Japanese Book Club (Currently reading: コーヒーが冷めないうちに)

Manga could be “tough” for this book club, because we’d likely read it so fast that it would be hard to justify the cost of buying it (for me at least).


Not likely for me. It would have to be a topic I’m really interested in to bother with something like that. The only non-fiction topic I can think of that I’d be interested in reading would be finance/economics. But at that point I might as well also read about a cute wolf girl as a bonus. Obviously referring to Spice and Wolf.

5 Likes

That might be the challenge. In my mind it was more akin grhe lines of things you might find in the Sunday supplement - art, design, food etc. That said I’d live to be able to read the business section at some point so I’d be up for some finance and economics; coming from a very low base on the vocabulary, though.

3 Likes

The pacing hasn’t been a problem for me, however due to life circumstances, I haven’t been reading for the past couple weeks. I intend to catch up this week, though. That way I can be more active in the discussion threads.

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@QuackingShoe We have to start our campaign push for 涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 so it wins next round. Can’t let it lose to those novelizations!

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image

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Convenience Store Woman (コンビニ人間)

Summary

Japanese

「普通」とは何か?
現代の実存を軽やかに問う第155回芥川賞受賞作

36歳未婚、彼氏なし。コンビニのバイト歴18年目の古倉恵子。
日々コンビニ食を食べ、夢の中でもレジを打ち、
「店員」でいるときのみ世界の歯車になれる――。

「いらっしゃいませー!!」
お客様がたてる音に負けじと、今日も声を張り上げる。

ある日、婚活目的の新入り男性・白羽がやってきて、
そんなコンビニ的生き方は恥ずかしい、と突きつけられるが……。

累計92万部突破&20カ国語に翻訳決定。
世界各国でベストセラーの話題の書。
https://www.amazon.co.jp/コンビニ人間-文春文庫-村田-沙耶香/dp/4167911302/
Add Japanese summary here.

English

Keiko Furukura had always been considered a strange child, and her parents
always worried how she would get on in the real world, so when she takes on a
job in a convenience store while at university, they are delighted for her. For
her part, in the convenience store she finds a predictable world mandated by
the store manual, which dictates how the workers should act and what they
should say, and she copies her coworkers’ style of dress and speech patterns so
that she can play the part of a normal person. However, eighteen years later,
at age 36, she is still in the same job, has never had a boyfriend, and has
only few friends. She feels comfortable in her life, but is aware that she is
not living up to society’s expectations and causing her family to worry about
her. When a similarly alienated but cynical and bitter young man comes to work
in the store, he will upset Keiko’s contented stasis.
https://groveatlantic.com/book/convenience-store-woman/

Availability

コンビニ人間 @ amazon.co.jp
コンビニ人間 @ ebookjapan
English Translation:
Convenience Store Woman @ amazon.com

Excerpt from Book

Personal Opinion

I came across it because it won the Akutagawa award, then I saw that it was
being translated into English. Looks like a fun, critical look at Japanese
society.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Highly regarded book. Winner of several book awards.
  • Shorter work (148 pages)
  • English translation exists, for those who wish to use that translation as a reference.
  • Plenty of English-language reviews to see if it is to your taste. New Yorker Review

Cons

  • There are no chapters, though there are section breaks at what seem to be regular intervals.

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
  • Just right
  • Challenging
  • Impossible, even with everyone’s help
  • I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)

0 voters

6 Likes

Only two days left for nominations, then it will time to vote! (Already? Wow that went faster than I expected)

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Gah, didn’t realise the enrolment would be closing so soon. I’m gonna be too busy tomorrow to write up any nominations.

Do you need it to be “Sunday AoE”?

Well, I get Sunday pretty much first. Just gotta remember to actually do it. :stuck_out_tongue:

I didn’t realize it was so soon either. Did anyone add the new nominations already made to the OP?

1 Like

砂糖菓子の弾丸は打ち抜けない

Summary

Japanese

その日、兄とあたしは、必死に山を登っていた。見つけたくない「あるもの」を見つけてしまうために。あたし=中学生の山田なぎさは、子供という境遇に絶望し、一刻も早く社会に出て、お金という“実弾”を手にするべく、自衛官を志望していた。そんななぎさに、都会からの転校生、海野藻屑は何かと絡んでくる。嘘つきで残酷だが、どこか魅力的な藻屑となぎさは序々に親しくなっていく。だが、藻屑は日夜、父からの暴力に曝されており、ある日―。直木賞作家がおくる、切実な痛みに満ちた青春文学。

English

Nagisa Yamada is a bored teenager who finds everyday life extremely unappealing – thus she plans on joining a Military School as soon as possible.

A strange new student named Umino Mokuzu, who claims to be a mermaid, transfers into Nagisa’s school and, much to our heroine’s bewilderment, soon begins to follow her around incessantly.
Initially, an annoyed and discomfited Nagisa strives to avoid any encounters with Mokuzu. But she soon begins to comprehend the pain and sadness concealed beneath this strange girl’s cheerful and carefree demeanour.

Availability


Personal Opinion

I stumbled across this light novel by stumbling across its manga adaption, actually. The manga was fantastic, had really great story arc and amazing character development and exploration.
As for why in the book club, I felt like it was very different from a lot of the other nominations already there (at least the ones I’ve caught up on), so it would make for an interested addition. It’s a dark psychological thriller. It’s a very good conversation starter to say the least, and would make for good discussion material outside of Japanese.

I never did any research as to whether the manga followed its source material, so I can’t say much about what’s going to be in the book, but the author is also wrote the manga, so I have high hopes.
If I assume they are quite similar, I should mention that there are potentially triggering scenes in there. I found it was done very tastefully, but it does deal with quite heavy topics, such as (if you don’t care, don’t read this, since it might count as spoilers) child abuse and severe violence.
I wasn’t sure if this is okay as a nomination because of the above paragraph, but I figured I’d post it anyway and if not, it can be taken down or no one will vote for it, which is also fine.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Quite short (about 200 pages)
  • Very different from Kino (variety)
  • Makes you think and gets you emotionally invested
  • Good character study

Cons

  • Potentially triggering with a bit of gore (very necessary for plot and not overdone though)
  • Very different from Kino (new vocabulary?)

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One



Additional Pages


(excuse the thumb)
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Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Just right
  • Challenging
  • Impossible, even with everyone’s help
  • I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)

0 voters

6 Likes

This nomination is a super rush-job since I didn’t realise the poll would close soon xD

I’ve yet to add some more sample pages, so I’ll do that in a second.

Also, I’ve mentioned this in the nomination, there’s some quite heavy subjects in there and I wasn’t sure if that’s appropriate for this book club or if it’s too much. If someone could give me a guideline (if there is any) that would be fab. Or if anyone’s read it (or the manga adaption) that would be even more helpful (though I don’t know how likely that is).

Also also, do I have to add it to the OP or do anything else with it now?
(Sorry I’m a total noob and have no idea how the world works >.<)

-----edit-----
All sample pages added now

2 Likes

Not yet. I’ve been busy with life, and I keep my time on the forum as low as possible (well, for some definition of possible)

1 Like

I’ve read Convenience store Woman in translation and it is a great book, very funny. Pretty challenging for me to read in Japanese but its definitely in the “I hope to read this one day” pile.

3 Likes

Gah. I did forget…

TOKYO猫びより散歩

Tokyo Cat Stroll

Summary

Japanese

「おいしい! 」 「覗きたい! 」 看板猫が迎えてくれるお店をご紹介。
イラストレーターの一志敦子さんが何度も通い、自信を持ってオススメする看板猫のいるお店、猫とお客さんとのふれあい、料理のおいしさの秘密、職人さんの手仕事など、
丁寧に取材したからこそ描ける緻密で優しいタッチのイラストは必見。

【猫がいるだけで、そこは幸せな空間になるのです】
イラストレーターの一志敦子さんが訪ねる、猫が迎えてくれるお店25軒+α

English

It’s… basically just an illustrated mini guidebook of shops in Tokyo which have cats.

Availability


Personal Opinion

Can’t go wrong with cats. :slightly_smiling_face:

Honestly, I spotted this on the Japanese new releases shelf in my local Kinokuniya, and my eye was drawm by the smug-looking cat on the cover, and when I had a flip through, it looked like quite a bit of fun. It’s not a chunky book - only 143 pages including fore- and afterwords - and it’s not massively wordy - lots o’ hand-drawn illustrations, but I thought it might make for a nice palate cleanser between heavier books.

It’s neatly divided into roughly six-page sections, with the approximate pattern being two pages of introductory text, a double-page-spread with a floor plan of the shop being discussed, and two pages of drawings of the cats getting up to antics.

(In all honesty, I feel it might fall into the gap between the Beginner and Intermediate groups a little bit, but hey, not every book has to be an epic novel…)

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Cats
  • Easily divides into chunks
  • After the first paragraph in each section, text appears hand-written (there’s enough variation that I don’t think it’s a handwriting-style font) which gives us practice at reading handwritten words.
  • Cats, on every single page
  • Light and refreshing
  • It’s a guidebook about actual shops in real-life Tokyo, so it might help people find places they’d like to visit that they otherwise may not have encountered.
  • Cats

Cons

  • Handwriting poses its own challenge
  • Perhaps may not tax peoples’ Japanese skills too hard. @seanblue may even turn up his nose at it. :stuck_out_tongue:

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
  • Just right
  • Challenging
  • Impossible, even with everyone’s help
  • I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)

0 voters

8 Likes

You did it! You posted on time :slight_smile:
Since you were the only one who expressed the wish to nominate something, I’ll just put up the vote later today :slight_smile:

Edit: wait, no, I’m going to leave a bit of time for people to check the nominations.

2 Likes

You do add the books from last round again, don’t you? We need not resubmit them, amiright?

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Yes, everything from last round (except Kino and I want to eat your pancreas which got its own thread already) get added again.

If we reach >20 nominations at some point, things that were regularly unpopular will get removed as well. (They may be nominated again, though)

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OK, sorry for the double post.
I have updated the OP to reflect the current nominations. Please read the sample pages and vote on their difficulty polls.
The actual vote will start on Wednesday.

5 Likes