Japanese Book Recommendations for Beginners👋📕

Update: I closed the survey for now! Thank you all for the recommendations :heart:

Hey all you book lovers :wave::closed_book:

I have a favor to ask you, fellow WaniKanians, to help inspire Japanese learners out there!

I’m planning to write an article to introduce Japanese books (excluding graded readers) to beginners, and I’d love your recommendations! I’ve created a survey, so if you can submit it with your Japanese book recommendation, I would appreciate it🙇‍♂️

Here’s the survey link:


Before starting the survey, please read the following.

What level of beginners am I asking about?

I am also thinking about making this a series for different levels of learners (only if the article goes well🙃), but for this time around, it would be for someone who’s starting to explore non-graded readers. Something like “The Beginner Book Club” level, rather than the “Absolute Beginner Book Club,” WaniKani book club members define here. It’s just a rough estimate but that would be someone around JLPT N4 level, WaniKani Levels 10 ~ 20. What books would you suggest reading to your fellow Japanese learners at this level?

What kind of books am I asking for?

  • We’re excluding graded-readers this time.
  • Manga or books with illustrations are welcome.

Depends on how it goes, but I’ll keep this survey open at least for the next couple of weeks! If you have any questions, please comment in this thread to let us know. I will be on staycation for the next two weeks so I might be slow to responding, but I promise I, or my helper @RachelG will get back to you! Thank you so much.


I filled it out! Only have one recommendation, I never read a lot of Japanese books.


did it :grin:


I recommended Aria the Masterpiece, to probably no one’s surprise!

I can’t recommend any actual books, because I didn’t really like any of the beginner books I’ve read. I’ll certainly recommend some books if you make an article for intermediate readers later. :slight_smile:

Thanks for planning this article by the way. I’m glad the forum book clubs are getting some publicity. Are you planning to link to the Master List of Books Clubs thread?


That must be that Murakami book you’ve been reading for a while now :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:


Alright, I submitted something :slight_smile:

In case you are also interested in critical reviews of (book club) books, feel free to get in touch!


Aww I’m so happy the Crabigator likes me! :crabigator:

I shared my favourite beginners book! :slight_smile:


Done! :smiley:

I submitted 「小説ミラーさん -みんなの日本語初級シリーズ-」 and 「ワンパンマン」

I’d love to read that; I just wish there was an ebook version. :confused:


Great question! Nothing is set in stone for the article yet but I’m sure Kanae will consider it :grinning:



More seriously, that :point_up: is also my situation. On top of that, around the target level, I could only manage manga. I’ll try to remember what I liked best at the time.


I knew it!


A while ago, @nbeck0212 found the resource Ehon navi, which allowed you to read all kinds of graded readers, ranging from books for babies to readers for teenagers. It currently asks for a small subscription fee, but compared to buying a book, it’s much more doable. It’s not really a book per se, but it’s a handy resource. (Full credits to @nbeck0212 of course)

EDIT: Wait woops, I think you’re specifically asking for non-graded readers. Full credit goes to me for being very bad at reading.


Those aren’t necessarily graded readers, though, right? Just books aimed at specific age groups? Which might come down to the same thing in some cases, when the book is intended to be read by the child. Many picture books are made to be read to the child first, though, so not necessarily keeping the child’s reading level in mind.


Don’t have much to recommend since I would be in the absolute beginner catergory, but can’t wait to read the article!

Thank you :smiley:


Submitted a book I enjoyed.

I would also recommend video games as they are easier to get in Japanese than books.

(Currently playing persona 4 on PC and bloodstained)


Is there actually a Murakami book for beginners? If so I’d love to read it.


Today I finished Genki1 is there a book I could try to read ? Wish I had read a book to sumbit but still one can dream.


Not Murakami, but the book Breaking into Japanese Literature has short stories by Soseki and Akutagawa. It’s dual text, so you can read in English, or check your understanding of the Japanese. It’s interesting to see how a single phrase in kanji gets translated in different ways to give more of the English sense to the stories.


What’s a graded reader?

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A graded reader is one that starts off very simple and as you progress through the chapters get harder and harder.