Before y’all disappear into the seasonal holidays, winter sports or summer sports activities, this is just a quick heads up that I will run the next book club poll early next year, probably from January 2nd!
In other words, if you have a book you would like to read with the club, now is a good time for proposing it. We currently have 10 (!) free slots for books unless I overlooked some nominations again , so please go wild
How do you all feel about me nominating a book that is part of a pair, but recommending the better of the two on its own rather than reading both, knowing that the one I’m recommending is better read second if you choose to read both? Technically there’s no set order, but I think the weaker one should be read first based on loose plot connections between the two, or skipped entirely. They are both on the shorter side, but combined they are definitely too long for IBC. So should I nominate the weaker of the two to accommodate people likely to read both? Should I nominate the better of the two knowing that it’s not ideal for people who end up reading both? Should I skip the nomination entirely because this is way too confusing?
This is the true story of Sadako Sasaki, who was 2 years old at the time when the atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima and years later became severely sick from side-affects of the radiation and while hospitalized folded a thousand paper cranes because of the legend that doing so would grant the folder a wish. This book is written by her older brother.
True take on the life of a girl that has become famous in Japan (and worldwide). See Wikipedia page for more history in English. Her story is often told to school children in Japan on the anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing. This book covers from her birth through her death through the eyes of a family member and shines a more personal light on what would become almost a legendary story.
I struggle to read non-fiction sometimes and most often find myself sticking to only fantasy or sci-fi stories, but I picked this up on a visit to Hiroshima years ago and have wanted to read it ever since.
Pros and Cons for the Book Club
available in both hardcopy and ebook
on the shorter side
furigana for all kanji make it more accessible than the vocabulary would otherwise indicate
contains footnotes for potentially unfamiliar terms (kindle version links directly to these)
lovely charcoal illustrations
some difficult vocabulary terms early on (not many after the first couple chapters except for some medical terms near the end)
it’s a sad story
First Three Pages of Chapter One
Taken from Amazon preview because I’m horrible at taking pictures of books:
How about making one nomination and then if it wins we can vote on whether we read the first book or skip it? Only with the caveat that you only vote for it if you are willing to read together either way. Though I suppose the caveat might artificially reduce the votes it gets if, say, everyone just wants to read the 2nd book
Having 2 different nominations may be good for more accurately judging who wants to read what. But it’s not great that it can eat up 2 votes, and it might be hard for people to judge whether they want to read the 2nd book while avoiding spoilers. Splitting up the votes might also reduce the chance of one of them winning
Seems like the best option depends on how flexible voters are, which we can’t know a priori…unless—why not have a poll! EDIT: this poll is apparently not really relevant sorry for the confusion
I only read books in order
I don’t mind sequence breaking
It depends on which book it is
Disclaimer: Poll results are not conclusive and enforces no action from any actor, legal or otherwise.
Whatever you go for I hope you don’t skip the nomination. What if it’s something everyone wants to read??
oh damn, I have this book actually. Bought it at the Peace Memorial Museum in Hiroshima in 2018, the year before I seriously started JP studies. Tried reading it early in my studies but it was tough even with all the furigana, so I didn’t get very far. Remained in my tsundoku pile ever since.
Because while I think they can work read in any order, it feels more natural based on their plots and tone. Short version (no plot spoilers): the one I consider weaker made me feel depressed the whole time I was reading it. Granted, I don’t know if that is the common/intended feeling or if it just hit me that way for some reason.
Longer version (still no plot spoilers) can be seen in my reviews of the books. Review 1, Review 2.
Phew, difficult question. Of course if we were sure that the first book would spawn a spin-off club, then my vote would be to nominate the first one (if you think it’s still a good book and an interesting read, of course). But history shows that while we had successful and long-lasting spin-off clubs, we also had books that were dropped after the club read the first volume. So it’s a bit of a gamble.
In reality we also read books out-of-order in the clubs (e.g. the ABC read Yougisha X which technically is the 3rd book in a series of loosely connected books revolving around the same main characters) so I’d say it’s not a bad thing in and of itself to nominate just the second one.
Also, if somebody really wants to read the first book first, they might even choose to do so out-of-club (time permitting of course).
Bottom line: I can’t really give a decisive answer, sorry! I’d suggest you pick whichever one you think is more entertaining for the club (and therefore more likely to win at some point).
Mai, a girl who just couldn’t bring herself to go to her new school, spent a month or so under the care of her favourite grandmother—secretly the Witch of the West—as the seasons changed to summer. During her stay Mai undergoes training to be a witch. But her training is not quite what she expected…The Witch has her learn that she must decide things for herself, and take her happiness into her own hands.
This was my first (non-manga) book that I actually managed to finish. I think the biggest reason for this was that it is really easy to follow what is going on, even if you don’t understand (or want to bother looking up) all the words. It’s a sweet story basically about a girl hanging out with her grandma in the countryside who turns out to be a witch. Somewhat Ghibli vibes. I’m eager to give it another read.
Pros and Cons for the Book Club
Easy to follow (written for a younger audience?)
Good amount of furigana; all the difficult words have, but not so much that you don’t get to practice your kanji reading knowledge
Auto-translated: The red blood cell (protagonist) that delivers oxygen around the body has no sense of direction. It is cool and strong white blood cells (neutrophils) to get rid of invading bacteria. You can enjoy the best-selling in-body cell anthropomorphic manga “Cells at Work” in a novel!
It became a bestseller with a total of more than 1.5 million copies. Internal cell anthropomorphic manga, “Cells at Work”. There are about 37 trillion per person. There is as much work (drama) as the number of cells! I made a novel packed with that fun!
Amazon JP including Kindle edition
Publisher Kodansha has links to many online bookstores and e-book options
In a crowded two-bedroom apartment in Tokyo, four Japanese twenty-somethings are waiting for their lives to begin. They have come from all over Japan, bringing with them dreams of success and romance, but life isn’t exactly going as planned. Kotomi waits by the phone for a boyfriend who never calls, Ryosuke is sleeping with his best friend’s girlfriend, and Mirai’s drinking has become a serious problem. Only Naoki, an aspiring filmmaker and the glue that keeps them all together, seems to be on the right track. Meanwhile, their next door neighbors are up to something suspicious, and a mysterious attacker is terrorizing the neighborhood.
When a homeless teenager suddenly appears, his arrival sets off a chain of events that will bring to light dark secrets the tenants of Apt. 401 have kept from one another—and from themselves. Parade—from Shuichi Yoshida (“Japan’s Stieg Larsson” —The Wall Street Journal), the wildly popular author of Villain—is a shocking story of life in the big city.
I was idly browsing for Japanese crime fiction recommendations and I happened upon this in translation. It looked interesting, so I got it when it was on offer on Bookwalker, but haven’t read it yet. Apparently it’s not really a crime novel, although there is some tension, but rather a portrayal of the lives of a group of youths sharing an apartment in Tokyo. We get to see the points of view of all the roommates, which is always an interesting approach for me.
The author has won the 山本周五郎 award, a literary award given to novels and literary works with excellent storytelling, for this book, and the Akutagawa prize for another book of his, パーク・ライフ.
Pros and Cons for the Book Club
Award winning book and author
Multiple points of view
Good character portrayals and tension (reportedly)
It’s been translated into English (and Italian, possibly other languages too?)
Although it is framed as a crime novel, some reviews complained that it was more slice-of-life and led nowhere. (this may also be a pro of course)
The situations described may be a little outdated, according to reviews. For what it’s worth, the book was written in 2002. (which still feels like last year to me, but that’s neither here nor there)
I’m not sure about any content warnings. I haven’t seen any mentioned in reviews but I haven’t searched too deeply.
The Thief is a seasoned pickpocket. Anonymous in his tailored suit, he weaves in and out of Tokyo crowds, stealing wallets from strangers so smoothly sometimes he doesn’t even remember the snatch. Most people are just a blur to him, nameless faces from whom he chooses his victims. He has no family, no friends, no connections… But he does have a past, which finally catches up with him when Ishikawa, his first partner, reappears in his life, and offers him a job he can’t refuse. It’s an easy job: tie up an old rich man, steal the contents of the safe. No one gets hurt. Only the day after the job does he learn that the old man was a prominent politician, and that he was brutally killed after the robbery. And now the Thief is caught in a tangle even he might not be able to escape.
Another book that I grabbed because it was on offer and looked interesting. It has won the Kenzaburo Oe award, and the author has also won the Akutagawa Prize for his book 土の中の子供. It’s been translated into English and seems to have been well received.