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

The author of convenience store woman has a new book out - Earthlings.

the book ‘breasts and eggs’ has great reviews too. wonder if i should struggle through it in japanese or just buy the english version rightaway :stuck_out_tongue:

6 Likes

As the current pick will be finished on Feb 5th, which means that the new book might start on Feb 13th, I think we should maybe run a poll soon(ish)? Currently, we are down to 10 nominations though, which gives room for more proposals - i.e. please check your shelves and suggest new books, anybody :blush:

Anyways, I’ll go first:

きらきらひかる

by 江國 香織 - Ekuni Kaori

Summary

Japanese

親のすすめで、医師の男性・睦月と見合いをすることになった笑子。しかし、その席で2人は互いの秘密を告白してしまう。笑子はアルコール依存症であること、睦月は同性愛者であることを。初めは戸惑う2人だが、結婚を決めたのだった。2人なりに穏やかな生活を営むが、早く子供をと望む周囲の声に笑子は追いつめられていく。一方で笑子と、睦月の恋人・紺との間には「睦月を愛する者同士」としての奇妙な友情が育まれていく。3人の幸せと、現実との折り合いとの間で苦悩した結果、笑子は睦月の同僚の産婦人科医にある突飛な相談を持ちかける。
(from Wikipedia)

English

As suggested by her parents, Emiko agrees to meet a candidate for an arranged marriage: the doctor Mutsuki. On their first date, both confess their deepest secrets: Emiko is an alcoholic, Mutsuki is homosexual. First they are confused, but then they decide to marry. They plan a calm life, but soon everybody pushes Emiko to have a child.
On the other hand, a strange friendship grows between Emiko and Mutsuki’s lover Kon as they are connected through their love towards Mutsuki. After much despair over their compromises between reality and the happiness of the three, Emiko decides to get in touch with one of Mutsuki’s colleagues, a gynecologist.
(translated with much help from @Myria :joy_cat:)

Availability

Amazon
No ebook available on BookWalker (did not check other sites though).

Personal Opinion

I don’t remember who recommended this book to me (or where I read about it), but I definitely bought it because of some kind of recommendation. So there’s that :joy_cat:
Apart from that, I like books that show me people and lifestyles that are outside of what we perceive as “the norm”. Sounds like this book might score multiple times here.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Pretty short book with 201 pages
  • Taboo topics, so I think the story might open up interesting views into the Japanese society
  • Was turned into a movie one year after the book was published

Cons

  • Somewhat difficult-to-discuss topic, so maybe not straightforward to read?
  • May contain triggers?
  • No eBook afaik

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chapter One


image

Additional Pages

image
image

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

6 Likes

Let me try to propose a couple of items as well. First goes a book.

コーヒーが冷めないうちに

Summary

Japanese

Taken from Amazon
とある街の、とある喫茶店の
とある座席には不思議な都市伝説があった
その席に座ると、望んだとおりの時間に戻れるという

ただし、そこにはめんどくさい……
非常にめんどくさいルールがあった

1.過去に戻っても、この喫茶店を訪れた事のない者には会う事はできない
2.過去に戻って、どんな努力をしても、現実は変わらない
3.過去に戻れる席には先客がいる
その席に座れるのは、その先客が席を立った時だけ
4.過去に戻っても、席を立って移動する事はできない
5.過去に戻れるのは、コーヒーをカップに注いでから、
そのコーヒーが冷めてしまうまでの間だけ

めんどくさいルールはこれだけではない
それにもかかわらず、今日も都市伝説の噂を聞いた客がこの喫茶店を訪れる

喫茶店の名は、フニクリフニクラ

あなたなら、これだけのルールを聞かされて
それでも過去に戻りたいと思いますか?

この物語は、そんな不思議な喫茶店で起こった、心温まる四つの奇跡

第1話「恋人」結婚を考えていた彼氏と別れた女の話
第2話「夫婦」記憶が消えていく男と看護師の話
第3話「姉妹」家出した姉とよく食べる妹の話
第4話「親子」この喫茶店で働く妊婦の話

あの日に戻れたら、あなたは誰に会いに行きますか?.

English

Taken from GoodReads
In a small back alley in Tokyo, there is a café which has been serving carefully brewed coffee for more than one hundred years. But this coffee shop offers its customers a unique experience: the chance to travel back in time.

In Before the Coffee Gets Cold , we meet four visitors, each of whom is hoping to make use of the café’s time-travelling offer, in order to: confront the man who left them, receive a letter from their husband whose memory has been taken by early onset Alzheimer’s, to see their sister one last time, and to meet the daughter they never got the chance to know.

But the journey into the past does not come without risks: customers must sit in a particular seat, they cannot leave the café, and finally, they must return to the present before the coffee gets cold . . .

Availability

Amazon
eBook on BookLive, I think it should be available at other platforms as well.

Personal Opinion

I bought this book in passing, attracted by a “Bestseller” mark on its cover. Well, I have to be honest, right? :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes: Anyways, when I started to read the first chapter, I had a somewhat comfortable feeling of a reading flow which I’d love to return to.
Later on I learned that the book was translated into a handful of languages like English, Russian, Italian, Arabic, Dutch…guess it was received pretty well by the readers.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Many positive reviews included a word “heartwarming”. I got that feeling as well. This is a slow book with lots of dialogues between heroes of the specific story.
  • This is not a sci-fi book. Time travels are nothing but background that gives the story a chance to develop.
  • Book is separated into 4 independent stories united only by the place of action. If you are delayed or skip a few weeks you can still join at a later point with no losses.

Cons

  • Stem from the pros: this is a non-action book focusing on human relations. It might seem boring for action-oriented readers
  • It is all about feelings, words said and not said, things done and not done. Might be overcomplicated and errr…dissatisfying? At least I feel that way when the book MC is brooding over sth instead of just doing whatever needs to be done.

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

7 Likes

And my second proposal is a manga. I am not quite sure if it goes into BBC or IBC, my personal evaluation is still IBC. The reason is that the book contains not only the narration, but also comments and quizzes which take its difficulty to another level. However, if the majority evaluates it as BBC, I will move the proposal to their thread.

日本人の知らない日本語

Summary

Japanese

Taken from Amazon
日本語って こんなふうに なってたのか!? 思わず「ほ~っ!」の 日本語、再発見コミックエッセイ 登場! 日本語学校に集まるマジメな外国人生徒たち。 そんな彼らの、外国人ならではの日本語の使い方やギモンの数々は、私たち日本人も知らなかった日本語の一面を教えてくれます。

English

In my own words
This is a story told by a person who teaches Japanese as a foreign language to adults. Her students coming from all over the world are super passionate about Japan and its language which brings a ton of braintwisting questions and a handful of facepalming situations, when you are torn between crying and laughing. Along with the story the book naturally brings up and explains small nuances of Japanese language which do not lose a true textbook.

Availability

Amazon
eBook on BookLive. I think it should be available on other platforms too.

Personal Opinion

I started to love the story from the dorama with the same name. So when I saw the manga, it was a sure-buy with no questions. This book is like a treasure box for Japanese learner: why this is said like that, what is the difference between this and that, how people behave in certain situations, etc…
I have only flipped the book through, but this time wanted to really savour all those tasty minor details it has. Apart from that…I laughed at almost every page and some nice good emotions is sth we really need now.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Perfect for language learners
  • Story revolves about real life situations and needs one may meet/have in Japan. You never know when you might need a Japanese equivalent for a noodle strainer :thinking:

Cons

  • Personally I do not see any cons, but perhaps the plot that revolves about language learning may be one?
  • Also those people already living in Japan may have another impression of the scenarios that the book describes

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

4 Likes

In a moment of amusing coincidence, I got an e-mail from Amazon yesterday to let me know that the English version is currently on sale. :slightly_smiling_face:

I’d honestly peg it at Intermediate simply because so much of it relies on some extremely twisty puns. Or some… extremely twisty taking-things-absolutely-literally?

1 Like

Well, it’s… it’s by the same guy.

It actually looks more like BBC material to me… What do the others think?

2 Likes

It’s definitely on par with other stuff from the beginner book club, especially recent picks. We could read it faster here, though. :woman_shrugging:

1 Like

then i’m going to leave it here as i just nominated nichijou there!

1 Like

I hope this is right - never done this before. :sweat_smile: Also I haven’t read this one, but I did buy it this past fall to put on my list.

小説 言の葉の庭

Summary

Japanese

(from Amazon)
雨の朝、高校生の孝雄と、謎めいた年上の女性・雪野は出会った。雨と緑に彩られた一夏を描く青春小説。劇場アニメーション『言の葉の庭』を、監督自ら小説化。アニメにはなかった人物やエピソードを多数織り込んだ。

English

On rainy mornings, Takao can never bring him-self to go to school-instead, he spends that time at the beautiful Shinjuku Gyoen gardens and finds a brief reprieve from everything else in his life among the trees and flowers. And on one of those mornings, he discovers a mysterious woman named Yukino in his haven, skipping work, and an unlikely friendship blooms between them. But though these two are the center of this story, they are far from the only ones trying to find their way in life.

From director Makoto Shinkai comes a deeper look at his award-winning 2013 film, The Garden of Words , full of additional scenes and perspectives to show a whole new side of the many characters who brought the film to life.

Availability

Amazon
eBook on BookWalker

Personal Opinion

I saw the Garden of Words movie from Makoto Shinkai and really liked it lol This novel is a deeper dive into the story and characters in the movie which sounds interesting. I also think the book actually came after the movie which is something I’ve never heard of before.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • A lot of positive reviews on Amazon.
  • Reviews on Amazon say the sentence structures are easy to read.

Cons

  • The story focuses on the lives of the characters so it’s not action-packed if that’s what people are looking for.

Pictures

First Three Pages of Chaper One

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

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

0 voters

2 Likes

@Naphthalene‘s smell being mentioned in the second sentence :eyes:

5 Likes

In the summary section, the Japanese version seems to be someone’s review of the book, which isn’t really a summary at all.

お恥ずかしいこと :see_no_evil:

2 Likes

Ahh yup, pasted the wrong text! :ok_hand:t4: I’ve fixed it now.

1 Like

Seems the same as Sinkai’s 君の名は, and the text difficulty seems to be also around that. Actually I wanted to continue with this group of books, I mean 君の名は、言の葉の庭、天気の子 - they are kind of grouped together in my mind.
Well, more the reason to pick up this one :thinking:

1 Like

I’ve added the new nominations to the OP, and we’re now at 16 proposals, which is a great number!

Having said that, there’s still room for 4 more, so hurry up if you also want to nominate something :slight_smile:

4 Likes

I’ve got two books I want to nominate. Just trying to decide whether to put them in Intermediate or Beginner.

Or whether me nominating books is a death knell for them…

3 Likes

Which ones are they?

Would telling you be as harmful to their chances of being selected as an actual nomination? :stuck_out_tongue:

But seriously though, they’re ラーメン大好き小泉さん (leaning towards Beginner for this) and 山と食欲と私 (leaning towards Indermediate).

Hehe you do seem to like that genre :joy_cat:
I agree with your verdict in general (of which book club they should go in). I’d definitely put the first one in Beginner, and the other one is debatable, but given the lack of furigana, it sounds fine to me to have it in Intermediate (of course with a higher reading pace).

山と食欲と私

Mountains, Appetite, and Me

Summary

Japanese

27歳、会社員の日々野鮎美は、「山ガール」と呼ばれたくない自称単独登山女子。美味しい食材をリュックにつめて今日も一人山を登るのでした。欲張りウィンナー麺、雲上の楽園コーヒー、魅惑のブルスケッタ、炊きたてご飯のオイルサーディン丼等々。読むとお腹がすく&山に登りたくなる! WEBマンガサイト「くらげバンチ」で最速で100万アクセスを突破したアウトドア漫画の決定版誕生!

English

Ayumi Hibino, a 27-year-old company employee, is a self-proclaimed solo mountaineer who doesn’t want to be called a “mountain girl”. Today, she packs her backpack with delicious ingredients and climbs the mountain alone. There are greedy wiener noodles, paradise coffee on the clouds, enchanting bruschetta, oil sardine rice bowl with freshly cooked rice, and more. Reading it will make you hungry & want to climb a mountain!

Availability

Amazon
BookWalker
Can also read chapters 1-3, and assorted later chapters, for free on the publisher’s website

Personal Opinion

Well, it’s that niche, ya know? Outdoor activities and yummy food. Laid-back camping without the laid-back… uh, or the camping. Wait, can I start again?

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Fun activities you can try at home!
  • Every chapter is precisely ten pages long, so there’s no need to worry about differing page counts from week to week.
  • There’s already twelve volumes out, so lots to get hooked on.

Cons

  • Dangerous to read while hungry.

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

3 Likes