Intermediate Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: Spy x Family・Next: TUGUMI

guess it’s a good time to change an 7 years old nick, it’s going to make finding my book meter easier too!

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I’ve wondered about something recently, and I would like to check back with everybody’s opinions. First of all, I’d like to ask the readers of 博士の愛した数式 two questions regarding the pace of this book. (Sorry that this is coming so late, but life was too much in the way for me to properly make up my mind about this.)

What did you think about the lengths of the weekly assignments in the 博士の愛した数式 book club?

  • I thought they were about the same length as for other books in this club
  • I thought they were shorter than for other books in this club
  • I thought they were longer than for other books in this club
  • I don’t know
  • I did not read the book

0 voters

What did you think about the weekly “workload” in the 博士の愛した数式 book club?

  • It took me about the same time as for other books in this club
  • It took me longer than for other books in this club
  • I needed less time than for other books in this club
  • I don’t know / I have no other books to compare to
  • I did not read the book

0 voters

Why am I asking this? (Please read only after answering the polls)

I compared the numbers of pages of this book in physical form and as indicated on Bookwalker, and I found a significant difference (232 pages on Bookwalker vs. 291 pages physical). On further investigating where the Bookwalker number comes from, it turns out that Bookwalker uses a “standardized page count” for their books. I got curious and checked the numbers of other books:

Book title Physical # Bookwalker # Ratio
Hakase 291 232 80%
Kemono no Souja II 488 407 83%
Kemono no Souja I 360 317 88%
Konbini Ningen 168 147 88%
Night Market 218 193 89%
Koteki no Kanata 392 348 89%
Kitchen 200 180 90%
Haruhi 328 302 92%
Yougisha X 394 373 95%
Hyouka 224 223 100%
Kino no Tabi 222 248 112%

So it seems that many books are in the range where one physical page contains 88%-92% of the text of one Bookwalker “standard page”, but we do have some outliers: Hyouka and Kino no Tabi contain more (even a lot more in the case of Kino no Tabi) text per physical page, while Hakase contains quite a bit less text per page.

So I was wondering whether we should take this information into account when establishing the reading schedule for a book? I’m mainly wondering because this is the Intermediate club, and while the weekly amount of text does not matter as much for those who are solidly at an intermediate (or higher) reading level, it might be more important for people just having moved over from the Beginner book club.
Of course this should not be the only thing to look at, because difficulty also plays an important role. So less text might nicely counterbalance a more difficult read (which I’m somewhat expecting to be the case for Hakase) but more text + more difficulty together might be a deal-breaker for some.

Or am I overthinking this?? I’d love to hear your opinions!

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The amount of text on a physical page is not a constant either. So it is difficult to compare. You would have to count the characters/page on both media to get a more realistic value. As fixed fonts are usually used both in paper and e-book, one could count the number of characters per line and the number of lines per page. To do that for bookwalker you would first have to find the font size matching the number of pages given by the bookwalker site (depending on the device you use). A lot of work …

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博士 was my first intermediate book, so it’s hard to answer the polls. I’ve since read コンビニ人間 and am currently catching up with 君の名は. I think difficulty is the main indicator for how long it takes me to read the weekly readings and I found 博士 particularly difficult (for comparison, I could easily do a week’s worth of reading of コンビニ in a day while looking everything up and feeling like i understood 90-95%. This was taking me so long with 博士 that I would give up trying to understand most things so that I could keep up. I did read コンビニ after, so could just be that my Japanese had improved).

I don’t think taking difficulty into account for weekly stopping points is a feasible task (there were some weeks with 博士 that were a lot easier than others, for instance) and since that’s the main factor for me, I don’t think it matters whether we use Bookwalker or the physical copy to determine # of pages.

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There’s a new book club in town!

A bunch of us were really enjoying the コンビニ人間 Repeat Book Club and we wanted to read more by Sayaka Murata, so we had a poll and settled on 殺人出産, which I am sure will be a gripping read! :hocho: The pace is on the relaxed side of ‘Intermediate’ and the book is currently 50% points back on Amazon. We’re currently voting about the starting date, so there’s no time like the present for getting involved :slight_smile:

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After a bit of discussion here (book review by Myria), here (comments by Naphthalene) and here (more comments by Myria), I decided to move the nomination for 乳と卵 - “Breasts and Eggs” from Intermediate to Advanced Book Club. So if you’re still interested in reading it, you know where to find it.

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For anyone who has read コンビニ人間 or thinks they might want to, the repeat club just finished up and we’ll be reading コンビニエンスストア様 this week. If you want to revisit (or get introduced) to the outstanding author that is 村田沙耶香 (Murata Sayaka), feel free to join us! It’s a short (~7 page) love letter to a convenience store that’s available for free digitally.

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Funny you should mention that. I was working on a nomination post for Yoko Ogawa’s Memory Police. The kindle listed it at 326 pages, but then I realized that the paperback is listed at a whopping 448 pages. Bookwalker puts it at 384.

So then I looked at Revenge and The Diving Pool, but those look like they might be a bit gory (blood, murder, etc). :man_shrugging:

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If you’re interested in nominating something from Yoko Ogawa, maybe her debut (I guess?) book 妊婦カレンダー might fit? Amazon says it’s 202 pages, so it would fit well for this club. I have no idea about the contents, though…

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On a related note, we will run our next poll in early May, so if you want to propose a new manga or book, now would be the time for it :blush:

Also, there are only 4 spots left, so don’t wait too long if you want to be in!

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I don’t think I can read with the bookclub so not making a nomination post and all but just leaving this here for anyone interested. This book and this author sound very, very interesting.

"We find a similar reference to youkai discourse in the work of best-selling mystery writer Kyogoku Natsuhiko (b. 1963), who has achieved extraordinary popularity and acclaim since his 1994 debut novel, and who won the prestigious Naoki Prize for popular fiction in 2003 for Nochi no kosetsu hyaku-monogatari (Sub- sequent Hyaku-monogatari Rumors). Like his mentor and source of creative influence, Mizuki Shigeru, KyOgoku explicitly looks to the Toku- gawa period for thematic inspiration. Some of his stories are set in the distant past, while others are more contemporary, but one of the gov- erning conceits of his work is the referential homage he pays to Sekien. He has even produced several short-story collections named after the works in Sekien’s HyakkiyagyO series; each story is prefaced with a re- production of one of Sekien’s drawings, and the theme of the narrative itself is loosely based on the title yOkai.9

Set in the 1950s, KyOgoku’s most famous series of novels concern the cantankerous owner of a used bookshop, KyOgoku-dO (the name of the shop as well as the hero), who solves mysteries through an EnryO-like ra- tionalistic consideration of facts bolstered by eclectic knowledge of an ar- ray of subjects, including folklore, religion, philosophy, and psychology. In a sense, KyOgoku-dO represents Komatsu’s multidisciplinary yOkaigaku scholar, probing yOkai not only to solve the specific mystery in the novel but also for insight into the greater mysteries of humanity. Each novel in the series takes its title and theme from one of Sekien’s yOkai and features a Sekien illustration on the frontispiece. The first of these novels, for ex- ample, is titled Ubume no natsu (Summer of the Ubume) and concerns a mysterious pregnancy—an issue, of course, appropriate to the yOkai of the title." - Pandemonium and parade Japanese monsters and the culture of yōkai by Foster, Michael Dylan

I greatly enjoyed the short story Nikuya Omuu by Shinji Ishii in Read Real Japanese. If he has a novel that anyone can recommend that would be suitable for this book club, I would be interested. I’ll research more on his novels as well.

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I’m a bit fuzzy about the usual timeline, but I think voting should start in a week or so. So, it’s about your last chance to nominate anything for this round.

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I’m very excited to join this book club. I can’t wait to vote…can’t wait to read…can’t wait to struggle through the book!

This is me, waiting for the poll to start:
Shiba_2

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リング

Summary

Japanese

同日の同時刻に苦悶と驚愕の表情を残して死亡した四人の少年少女。雑誌記者の浅川は姪の死に不審を抱き調査を始めた。――そしていま、浅川は一本のビデオテープを手にしている。少年たちは、これを見た一週間後に死亡している。浅川は、震える手でビデオをデッキに送り込む。期待と恐怖に顔を歪めながら。画面に光が入る。静かにビデオが始まった……。恐怖とともに、未知なる世界へと導くホラー小説の金字塔。

English

After 4 teenagers mysteriously die simultaneously in Tokyo, Kazuyuki Asakawa, a reporter and uncle to one of the deceased, decides to launch his own personal investigation. His search leads him to “Hakone Pacific Land”, a holiday resort where the youths were last seen together exactly one week before their deaths. Once there, he happens upon a mysterious unmarked videotape. Watching the tape, he witnesses a strange sequence of both abstract and realistic footage, including an image of an injured man, which ends with a warning revealing that the viewer has 1 week to live. Giving a single means of avoiding death, the tape’s explanation ends suddenly, having been overwritten by an advertisement. The tape has a horrible mental effect on Asakawa, and he doesn’t doubt for a second that its warning is true.

Availability

Amazon
BookWalker

Personal Opinion

Don’t know much about this book. I was reading about another book by this author, らせん, because it had won 吉川英治文学新人賞 and it turned out らせん was a sequel to リング. The name sounded familiar and I was surprised to find that it was the basis for a famous movie (which I actually never watched, but have a general gist of the plot)

Pros and Cons for the Book Club

Pros

  • A genre that is currently not represented in the nominations
  • Relatively famous novel or, at least, the movie is
  • Modern day setting

Cons

  • Horror may not be for everyone
  • A bit long and from the first pages looks like the writing is quite dense

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

1 Like

When I was in Japan, I basically asked everybody about their favorite authors and books, and one of the recommendations I got was for this book :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:
But I also got a bit of a warning along with it, so I’m guessing this is rather a serious member of the horror genre…


On an unrelated note, I just discovered that the nomination for the manga “City” has been withdrawn. This leaves us with 4 more open spots. So make sure to get your nomination up if you want to be in! :+1: We will probably launch the next poll on Thursday.

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The 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 “impossible, even with everyone’s help”. The difficulty is annotated in square brackets after the book’s name.

Do not rely solely on difficulty 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.

Start of Book Club: We will start the next book on June 19th (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 .

  • ブギーポップは笑わない [3]
  • ポーション頼みで生き延びます! [3.55]
  • All You Need Is Kill [3.31]
  • ifの悲劇 (if no higeki) [2.5]
  • もやしもん - Tales of Agriculture [2.89]
  • 変愛サイケデリック [2.5]
  • ヨコハマ買い出し紀行 [1.87]
  • きらきらひかる [2.67]
  • コーヒーが冷めないうちに [2.6]
  • 日本人の知らない日本語 [2.3]
  • 言の葉の庭 [2.45]
  • 山と食欲と私 [2.5]
  • くま クマ 熊 ベアー [2.45]
  • 天気の子 [2.67]
  • ガイコツ書店員本田さん (Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san) [2.33]
  • リング [2.5]

0 voters

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I also need a regular to update the thread title, pretty please :bowing_woman:

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Uh oh. How are there suddenly six things I want to read?

(Ah well. Guess I reserve the right to reposition my votes if need be. I imagine there’ll be a point where I can’t vote something to the top, but I can help stop something else dropping off the bottom.)

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I have the same issue :sweat_smile:

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