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

I’ll be joining for the next book! Ordered my copy on cdjapan. Excited to read something I’ve never heard of or seen an adaptation of.

2 Likes

As a follow-up to our book length discussion, I double-checked the lengths of our current proposals (and added the information to the OP). In that process I noticed that unfortunately the nomination 言の葉の庭 clocks in at 396 pages, which is definitely too long for the reading speed of this book club… :frowning:

@Mistyann, you proposed this book and therefore you can of course decide what should happen with your nomination. We could either remove it from the list :cry:, or you could carry it over to the Advanced Book Club if you like? (This would mean a significant increase in reading speed, though, so it is up to you of course whether you want to propose it there.)

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:sweat_smile: Ahh knowing that it’s so much longer and comparing that to my reading speed for the 君の名は I think it’s safe for it to be removed from the nomination list.

I’ll keep it as one of those aspirational books when my reading level improves or when I have the time for such a long read. Thanks for the heads up!

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I realized a I watched some episodes of a drama with a pretty similar setting than the current book. Show’s name is ‘Time Taxi’ or 素敵な選TAXI. He takes you back in time, for a price… Thought it was pretty funny if someone wants to try it out. And the pun is nice.

EDIT: I managed to watch it free on rakuten viki, but seems like it’s no longer available :cry:.

6 Likes

Just in case anybody is interested and has the capacity for some additional reading:

地球星人 / Earthlings

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Summary

Japanese

恋愛や生殖を強制する世間になじめず、ネットで見つけた夫と性行為なしの婚姻生活を送る34歳の奈月。夫とともに田舎の親戚の家を訪れた彼女は、いとこの由宇に再会する。小学生の頃、自らを魔法少女と宇宙人だと信じていた二人は秘密の恋人同士だった。だが大人になった由宇は「地球星人」の常識に洗脳されかけていて……。

芥川賞受賞作『コンビニ人間』を超える驚愕をもたらす衝撃的傑作。

English

As a child, Natsuki doesn’t fit into her family. Her parents favor her sister, and her best friend is a plush toy hedgehog named Piyyut who has explained to her that he has come from the planet Popinpobopia on a special quest to help her save the Earth. Each summer, Natsuki counts down the days until her family drives into the mountains of Nagano to visit her grandparents in their wooden house in the forest, a place that couldn’t be more different from her grey commuter town. One summer, her cousin Yuu confides to Natsuki that he is an extraterrestrial and that every night he searches the sky for the spaceship that might take him back to his home planet. Natsuki wonders if she might be an alien too.

Back in her city home, Natsuki is scolded or ignored and even preyed upon by a young teacher at her cram school. As she grows up in a hostile, violent world, she consoles herself with memories of her time with Yuu and discovers a surprisingly potent inner power. Natsuki seems forced to fit into a society she deems a “baby factory,” but even as a married woman she wonders if there is more to this world than the mundane reality everyone else seems to accept. The answers are out there, and Natsuki has the power to find them.

Dreamlike, sometimes shocking, and always strange and wonderful, Earthlings asks what it means to be happy in a stifling world, and cements Sayaka Murata’s status as a master chronicler of the outsider experience and our own uncanny universe.

Availability

Amazon (paperback bunko)
Amazon (eBook)

Personal Opinion

The repeat-club for コンビニ人間 (by the same author) was my first introduction to the Intermediate Book Club. It was such an enjoyable read that a few of us moved on to another one of her works (殺人出産), which I’ve enjoyed even more! So now I am nominating one of her more recent works here, because I want everyone to know how excellent Sayaka Murata’s books are for intermediate Japanese learners. Why? First and foremost, because her writing style is straightforward. The vocabulary isn’t very flowery and the sentences aren’t very long and complicated. That doesn’t mean the books lack depth, however. Both works I have read so far have given rise to lively discussions not just about the Japanese but also about the contents themselves. It has been very motivating to read not just for the sake of Japanese practice, but also because I am dying to see what happens next. I have nominated this particular book because it is one of her more recent works (and thus pretty well-known) and because there is an English translation available, which might make it easier for some to read along.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • Straightforward writing style
  • Plenty of food for discussion
  • Modern Akutagawa Prize-winning author
  • English translation available

Cons

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

13 Likes

I wholeheartedly second this nomination. This book takes some of the ideas presented in コンビニ人間 and carries them to extremes. I rank it among the best books I’ve ever read.

I will say though “Subject matter can be a bit grim” is an understatement. The book gets very dark and explores topics that could definitely be considered disturbing or triggering. I don’t want to elaborate because I think it’s best to go in knowing as little about this book as possible, but if you find this warning concerning it might be worth looking into some more specifics before deciding if Earthlings is for you.

6 Likes

I personally have not read it yet and didn’t want to get spoiled reading too much about the plot, but since you have read it (or seem to, anyway), perhaps you could put some trigger warnings in a spoiler tag so that people for whom triggers are a concern can make an informed decision? I’ll add it to the nomination under ‘cons’.

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I do think that these warnings contain significant spoilers, so please only read them if you feel you need to.

Earthlings Trigger warnings
  • Abusive family
  • Cannibalism
  • Child sexual abuse
  • Incest
  • Manipulation
  • Mental abuse
  • Murder
  • Pedophilia
  • Rape
  • Sexual abuse
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New book starting tomorrow / next day (19th) if I’m not mistaken, right? I’m so ready!

I ended up buying it on Bookwalker because it was literally half price compared to my store… I enjoy paper but I also enjoy buying twice the amount for the same price :relaxed:

First time using Bookwalker, so it will bind my soul to it or destroy it forever, I suppose. I’m glad I can pick up words with yomichan, although it’s inconvenient that I can’t copy & paste sentences if I want to use Anki alongside it. Typing it is, then.

7 Likes

For anyone on the fence about 地球星人, I’m halfway through now and highly recommend it :+1: Subject to the trigger warning if you are “sensitive” (if that’s the right English word here).

There are quite a few non-WK kanji in the book. Some are very common, like 頷く or 撫でる, and definitely seem worth learning. The book (my version) doesn’t give a damn about “usually written using kana alone” :smiley: it happily uses things like 筈, 藁 or 蜘蛛 without Furigana. Jisho’s radical search was my friend.
And a lot of “descriptive” hiragana words like とろりと, あっさり, つるつる etc. Being hiragana, you can look those up easily even when reading in paper form.

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Hello hello! I’ve started on the new book on my kindle, but can’t find the end of the first week using the search function. Could anybody be so kind as to update the TBD-section with the kindle stops? :slight_smile: Thanks!
Looking forward to reading with you guys! Anybody else excited to start…? :slight_smile:

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Hey! If you head over to the book’s home thread or to the thread for the first week, your question might be more visible for the others who also read this book :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the orientation! Having read the hints in the Week 1 thread, I actually managed to find the position, too! :slight_smile:

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We’ve got another Sayaka Murata book club starting in ~6 weeks. We’ve read two of her books before and both proved to be very enjoyable and reasonably straightforward (both in terms of language and in terms of style). We’re currently figuring out a schedule, so make sure to get involved in that discussion if you’re planning to read with us :slight_smile:

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We just finished up 日常 over in the BBC and the general consensus seemed to be that the manga itself was excellent but it really was not good for beginners. There also seemed to be interest in reading City by the same author, so I figured I’d nominate it here.

I saw that it appears to have been nominated here before, only to be withdrawn and moved to the BBC, but now the nomination doesn’t seem to exist there either. Would anybody take issue with me renominating it here?

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I think the nomination got removed because the user who nominated it apparently deleted their account (nobody really seem to know what happened for sure). Here is a discussion about it, the important bit:

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Thanks! I’ll write up a new nomination.

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City

Summary

Japanese

一文無しの大学生・南雲の行くところ必ず何かが起こる。普通のCITYに住むちょっと普通じゃない人々。彼女が走ればCITYは回る、皆が繋がる。あらゐけいいちワールド全開のガールズ・ラン・コメディ開幕!

English

From the creator of nichijou , this surreal-slapstick series revolves around a penniless college student, Midori Nagumo, who lives in an ordinary city filled with not-quite-ordinary people. And as this reckless girl runs about, she sets the city in motion.

Availability

Amazon (physical)
Bookwalker (ebook)

Personal Opinion

Nichijou may be my favorite comedy anime of all time. The Beginner Bookclub just finished reading the manga, and the consensus was that it was very enjoyable but not a good pick for beginners to native material, because the humor relies on bizarre situations and twists that often have little context, as well as (somewhat) obscure cultural references. That’s why I’m nominating City, Arawi Keiichi’s second series and Nichijou’s spiritual successor, here in the IBC. It seems to be every bit as well-received as Nichijou despite being less popular due to its lack of an anime adaptation.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • If it’s like Nichijou, there will be some really fun humor and likable characters.
  • A lighthearted manga might make for a good quick interlude between novels (and choosing more books = more publicity for the club)
  • A few of the BBC members who really enjoyed Nichijou might take this chance to give the IBC a try.

Cons

  • If absurd comedy is not your cup of coffee, this might not be for you.
  • The humor and writing style can sometimes make the jokes difficult to get, even for intermediate learners.

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

5 Likes

I’m still pretty new to the book clubs, so I’m not sure if this fits the intermediate club or not (I found the sample pages very easy to read), but this looks cute as heck and I’d be inclined to read it no matter what!

2 Likes