Intermediate Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: セーラー服と機関銃

We’re currently deciding on the final schedule for our current pick, and if we decide to stick with the schedule that’s currently in place, then we will have our next poll soon! We already have a good number of nominations, but there are still a few free slots for new ones. So if you have a book that would fit the Intermediate Book Club length requirement (i.e. below 300 pages, ideally below 250 pages) and difficulty, then please feel free to nominate it (using the template in the OP)!


Spy x Family




名門校潜入のために「家族」を作れと命じられた凄腕スパイの〈黄昏〉。だが、彼が出会った“娘”は心を読む超能力者! “妻”は暗殺者で!? 互いに正体を隠した仮初め家族が、受験と世界の危機に立ち向かう痛快ホームコメディ!!


In order to maintain the state of peace between the rival nations of Westalis and Ostania, a Westalis agent codenamed “Twilight” is tasked with spying on Donovan Desmond, the leader of an extremist political party within Ostania. However, due to Desmond being notoriously reclusive, the only way Twilight can get close to him is to enroll a child in the same private school as Desmond’s son and pose as their father. To accomplish this, he creates the alias of Lloyd Forger, adopts a young orphan girl named Anya, and marries a woman named Yor Briar, to create the image of a happy family. However, Yor is in fact a professional assassin, with neither her nor Lloyd being aware of each other’s true identities. Both of them are also unaware that Anya can read minds, and knows their true professions. Despite these unknown factors, Lloyd must learn to play the role of the perfect father and husband in order to carry out his mission. (wikipedia)


Physical: Amazon | CD Japan
Digital: Kindle | Bookwalker

Personal Opinion

This has been blowing up all over the internet because of the anime that is currently airing. It is honestly super hillarious, esepcially the daughter Anya has some of the best reaction faces in any manga I have read.

Pros and Cons


  • Popular so hopefully a lot of participants
  • Has an anime so one could read/watch both (to get that sweet listening practice)
  • Furigana
  • Funny & interesting story


  • Pretty hard according to learn natively it is level 30 so just below Death note
  • Also pretty dense


First Three Pages of Chapter One

Additional Pages

Bookwalker preview:

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • 1 - No effort at all
  • 2 - Minimal effort
  • 3 - Moderate effort
  • 4 - Substantial effort
  • 5 - So much effort my head might explode :exploding_head:
  • I don’t know

0 voters

I originally posted this in the beginner book club, but after some discussion I moved it up to here!


This makes me think maybe I should move 5分後に笑えるどんでん返し down to the beginner book club based on the responses here (5 votes for minimal effort, 1 vote for no effort).

Can I just delete or edit the post? (and edit the main post too?)
Or should I leave it here for one run of voting?
I’m still kinda new to the book clubs (and haven’t participated in the intermediate one yet), so not sure how everything works and definitely not sure on how to properly rank the difficulty levels of some of these books :sweat_smile:


Yeah maybe that would be a good idea actually?

You could just delete the post or put a big comment at the top of the text, but given that it has not been in any polls yet, I’d probably lean towards just deleting it.

That would be kind of you! (Although if you don’t feel comfortable doing it then I will take care of it when I prep for the poll.)

Whatever you feel like makes sense, really :blush:

Ah no worries, we’re all here to learn and help each other on many levels :upside_down_face: And it’s really hard to rate books by difficulty, especially those you haven’t read yet :wink:


Thank you for such a thorough response! :blush:
Moved it to the beginner club and edited the main post here!


The next Poll is upon us!

Have a look at the List of Proposed Books section in the first post for details on each book. Every book has a difficulty associated with it (based on book club members voting, thus subjective) out of 5, where 1 means “no effort at all” and 5 means “so much effort my head might explode”. The difficulty is annotated in the poll in square brackets after the book’s name, together with the book’s level on Natively (you can find the links to Natively for all books in the first post if you want to have a look at the gradings in detail).

Do not rely solely on difficulty or Natively level when making a choice. Please have a look at nomination posts if you haven’t already.

Expected reading pace: We aim to read books at ~15 pages per week (that number might vary a bit throughout, depending on the book’s breaks and chapters). For manga, depending on difficulty and chapter length, we will probably read one to several chapters per week. The pick’s exact reading schedule will be negotiated before the book club kicks off.

Short book rule: If the first place ist taken by a pick that will take us 6 weeks or less to read, we will read the one in second place directly after it, without running a poll in between. I haven’t checked in detail, but I’d assume that this basically applies in case one of the manga wins the poll.

Start of Book Club: We will start the next book on June 18th (after a one-week break).

Poll duration: I will close the poll within a week (and most likely before that), whenever it looks like voting has dried up. You can choose up to 5 options.

  • きらきらひかる [2.67 / L30??]
  • 日本人の知らない日本語 (Manga) [2.4 / L29]
  • 山と食欲と私 (Manga) [2.5 / L25]
  • くま クマ 熊 ベアー [2.36 / L24]
  • 天気の子 [2.64 / L31]
  • ガイコツ書店員本田さん (Manga) [2.45 / L24??]
  • リング [2.67 / L34]
  • City (Manga) [2.56 / L24??]
  • TUGUMI [2.5 / L30]
  • Just Because! [2.17 / L30??]
  • 笑顔のたえない職場です。 (Manga) [2.83 / L29??]
  • 穴 [2 / L38]
  • 人質の朗読会 [2.43 / L30??]
  • 死にたいけどトッポッキは食べたい [2.75 / L30??]
  • Spy x Family [2.75 / L30]

0 voters

EDIT: I forgot to annotate that Spy x Family is a manga, sorry! Also, I wanted to point out that there is currently a coin cashback sale going on at BookWalker until 2022-05-06T01:00:00Z. I think by then we should already be able to forecast which entry is likely to be among the winners, for those who want to buy before the sale ends.


Kinda think Spy x Family has been generating so much buzz lately that it’s practically a shoo-in. :stuck_out_tongue:

But, ah… vote for mine! 山と食欲と私 :grinning:


I’m basically expecting that too :wink: But I expect it to be a short read, so the second place will be picked as well. :grin:


Ooh the Natively levels in the poll are a nice touch.


sorry, i’m one of those fans pushing for Spy x Family cause I also happen to be reading it now thanks to anime/ it’s on sale :laughing:

i hope it’s not presumptuous to have started a vocab sheet for it…


Thanks! I found it interesting to see that almost all of the books are in the L25-L30 range, so that seems to confirm the Natively levels and our picks at the same time :grin:
But of course you can’t fully rely on the levels because for some books there are really few gradings (e.g. for 穴 it looks as if the Natively level is a bit too high? Especially compared to our own poll. But maybe it just gets harder later on. Difficult to tell unless we read it I guess…)


It’s strange because it seems only one person has read 穴 on Natively, and they write in their review that it’s an “easy read language-wise.” Also I thought there would be question marks after the level number if there aren’t enough people grading it? There are none in this case. I’m very new to Natively, so I don’t know, maybe the level is based on other criteria too besides reader gradings?


Yeah I noticed that as well. But then again that person has read crazy hard stuff, so their mileage may be different :sweat_smile:

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 :slight_smile:


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… :slight_smile:

Yes he has. The easiest stuff that he’s read that’s fully graded is lvl 34 :sweat_smile:. 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.


Thanks for the explanation, @sweetbeems ! Much appreciated!

And now I’m more curious than ever to read 穴. I’m kind of disappointed that no book I’ve read so far is higher than L33 :grin:


Well, never hurts to try! If you’re really interested in something, it often trumps a little more difficulty :upside_down_face:

And who knows, maybe _Minos is wrong!


Go go Spy x Family /o/ /o/ /o/!


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 :woman_shrugging:

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 :sweat_smile: but then again, here everybody rated it as “minimal difficulty” :woman_shrugging:. Maybe I will have a look into it at some point :grin:


The book with the highest difficulty right now is 笑顔のたえない職場です according to the polls. I’m not sure how much weight I would put onto them :smiley:


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.