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

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I saw that it appears to have been nominated here before, only to be withdrawn and moved to the BBC, but now the nomination doesn’t seem to exist there either.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

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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!

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As mentioned in the nomination, Nichijou (by the same author) was read by the Beginner Book Club, but was judged to be a little bit too difficult in hindsight, which is why this was nominated for this club.

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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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