Yeah I noticed that as well. But then again that person has read crazy hard stuff, so their mileage may be different
I think that the question marks only appear if there have not been enough gradings, but this book has gotten 10 gradings, so that seems to make the level be somewhat reliable. Natively doesn’t seem to take into account that all those 10 gradings are from the same person…
But to make sure about this, let’s ask @sweetbeems
Yes the ‘temporary’ rating system (‘??’) is pretty dumb in this regard… it doesn’t require multiple people just a minimum number of grades & a variety of grades to make sure the level has settled (‘harder’ / ‘easier’ / ‘similar’). The assumption here is that people won’t have wildly different takes on a book difficulty and that if someone is able to grade enough to get it out of the temporary status, they probably have a good amount of books around that level.
There are, of course, books where there is somewhat large disagreement on difficulty, but that’s pretty rare… usually people agree within 3-4 levels, which is all the temporary system is shooting for. And adding the requirement for multiple people not only complicates the system which makes it harder to handle, but it also puts way more books into ‘temporary’… I think unnecessarily. Eventually, I hope to make it more sophisticated, but lots to do…
Yes he has. The easiest stuff that he’s read that’s fully graded is lvl 34 . This is why showcasing a book’s supposed level, a user’s gradings and a user’s personal library is very valuable context when reading a review! It is ‘easy’ for him, certainly wouldn’t be for me haha.
Yeah, I can very much relate to that. After all, a book’s level is just a (more and more educated) guess, no matter what
Anyways, I got really curious now regarding that book! It being an Akutagawa prize winner sort of already sticks the “it will be complicated and confusing” tag to it ime but then again, here everybody rated it as “minimal difficulty” . Maybe I will have a look into it at some point
A book club! This is awesome, I am going to join after the next round. I have a ton of travel this summer but then I want to do this. Don’t worry I will still read independently in the meantime. Trying to read 20 minutes a day and have read some of these books like コンビニ人間。I think I will be okay on difficulty.
Good luck everyone, looking forward to joining soon.
Hey, welcome! No worries, you can join in any time. If you’d like to read one of the past book club picks: we use separate threads for each week’s reading, and you can still use them and read the questions and discussions, and of course still ask more! Usually a bunch of people still follow those threads and will be happy to help you out or continue the discussion.
Voting seems to have dried up by now, and so I am happy to announce the winner of this poll:
Spy x Family
This manga has 5 chapters, some are longer and some are shorter, but I don’t see that it warrants a schedule of more than 6 weeks max (given we’re the Intermediate club), and so we also have a second winner in this poll:
which we will read immediately after the first winner.
(If somebody strongly opposes my schedule estimation for Spy x Family, please speak up!)
With the auspicious announcements going hand in hand, we also have a few sad announcements: We need to say goodbye to the following proposals because they scored 20% or less in the last three polls:
くま クマ 熊 ベアー
This opens up five slots at once in our proposals list! That’s on top of the five slots that were already open. So if you have ideas for books or manga we should read here and that fit the club criteria, please feel free to propose them at any time.
EDIT: Oh I totally forgot: @Shadowlauch are you going to run the Spy x Family book club?
A busybody aunt who disapproves of hair removal; a pair of door-to-door saleswomen hawking portable lanterns; a cheerful lover who visits every night to take a luxurious bath; a silent house-caller who babysits and cleans while a single mother is out working.Where the Wild Ladies Are is populated by these and many other spirited women—who also happen to be ghosts. This is a realm in which jealousy, stubbornness, and other excessive “feminine” passions are not to be feared or suppressed, but rather cultivated; and, chances are, a man named Mr. Tei will notice your talents and recruit you, dead or alive (preferably dead), to join his mysterious company.
In this witty and exuberant collection of linked stories, Aoko Matsuda takes the rich, millennia-old tradition of Japanese folktales—shapeshifting wives and foxes, magical trees and wells—and wholly reinvents them, presenting a world in which humans are consoled, guided, challenged, and transformed by the only sometimes visible forces that surround them.
I really like the premise of the book: a modern and feminist retelling of traditional youkai stories. I have been meaning to learn more about youkai and when I came across this book, I thought this might be even more fun than reading (about) the original stories. Not only could we discuss the stories in this book, but we could also discuss the original versions and what choices the author made when ‘updating’ them to modern times. The brief story descriptions (which some might consider spoilers, so I have hidden them in the summary sections) look very whimsical, so I think it’d be an entertaining read. The fact that there are 17 individual stories also means it would be a very forgiving book; if you get behind, you can just skip a few stories without losing the plot. Finally, there is an English translation available, which (I hope) lowers the threshold for people to join from the Beginner’s Book Club.
Pros and Cons for the Book Club
Looks like a fun, light read
An opportunity to get better acquainted with youkai.
English translation available
17 stories, so easy scheduling
You might have to be familiar with youkai to get the most out of it?
The ‘feminist’ angle might turn some people off? Though I don’t think it’s feminist in a preachy sense
AOKO MATSUDA is a writer and translator. In 2013, her debut book, Stackable , was nominated for the Yukio Mishima Prize and the Noma Literary New Face Prize. Her novella, The Girl Who Is Getting Married , was published by Strangers Press in the U.K. in 2016. In 2019, her short story “The Woman Dies” was short-listed for a Shirley Jackson Award. She has translated work by Karen Russell, Amelia Gray, and Carmen Maria Machado into Japanese.
On this book (it has been translated into English):
“These ghosts are not the monstrous, vengeful spirits of the original stories; they are real people with agency and personalities, finally freed from the restraints placed on living women. Funny, beautiful, surreal and relatable, this is a phenomenal book.” —Claire Kohda Hazleton, The Guardian
@NicoleIsEnough What is the maximum number of nominations we want at any one time? I have two more up my sleeve, but I don’t want to be greedy
They’ve both been translated into English, which I take to be an indication that they enjoy some amount of popularity and appeal (otherwise why bother translating them?). But I am wary of nominating too many such books, because for some people the joy of reading in Japanese may lie partly in reading works that would otherwise be inaccessible to them.
A housewife takes up bodybuilding and sees radical changes to her physique–which her workaholic husband fails to notice. A boy waits at a bus stop, mocking businessmen struggling to keep their umbrellas open in a typhoon–until an old man shows him that they hold the secret to flying. A woman working in a clothing boutique waits endlessly on a customer who won’t come out of the fitting room–and who may or may not be human. A newlywed notices that her husband’s features are beginning to slide around his face–to match her own.
In these eleven* stories, the individuals who lift the curtains of their orderly homes and workplaces are confronted with the bizarre, the grotesque, the fantastic, the alien–and, through it, find a way to liberation. The English-language debut of one of Japan’s most fearlessly inventive young writers.
* The English translation contains 11 stories; the Japanese version contains 13.
When I read reviews of this book, I got the sense that this is a book that could yield a lot of (literary) discussion, because there is an overarching theme: people losing themselves within relationships and their struggle to reclaim their identity. It could be fun to compare the stories and see how this theme is fleshed out in different ways. The fact that it’s a short story collection means that it should be easy to skip one (or more) stories if you’re behind.
Pros and Cons for the Book Club
Akutagawa Prize-winning author
Stories that are surreal and absurd.
English translation available, containing some of these stories
13 stories, so easy scheduling
Absurd stories can sometimes be more challenging in a foreign language.
Like @omk3 correctly deduced, it is 20 (simply because a single poll can only handle 20 entries, so that’s a bit of a natural boundary )
I personally wouldn’t worry too much about this. I mean, sure, it is very interesting to be able to read books that almost nobody else can read because of language barriers, but then again I take the Intermediate club to be a kind of learning stage or stepping stone anyways, so I always thought the existence of an English translation might be a pro for more people than it might be a con for others.
Which one would it be? Maybe I or somebody else can look into it beforehand? Please also keep in mind that there are a lot of books on Natively that don’t have many reviews so the level might be wrong after all…
…runs off to check Natively…
OK there are not many L49 contenders that fit our page limit. Given you don’t want to propose classics like Natsume Souseki or Tanizaki Jun’ichirou, the only one left is the Ueno駅 book then, maybe? I would love to read that one (I actually own it already fwiw) but the review on Natively really surprised me (and I believe that person knows what they are talking about ). So in that case, maybe you should rather propose it in the Advanced Club instead