[Now voting!] Advanced Japanese Book Club // Now Reading: アンダーグラウンド

I’m probably not going to nominate anything, but could I just ask what makes a book ‘advanced’? Perhaps I’m not advanced enough to be asking, but I feel like even books like Re:Zero (I’m bringing it up since it’s on the forums) might give some advanced learners trouble, and there are definitely light novels that are even harder than that. However, I take it that Re:Zero and other light novels are considered intermediate? Honestly, my current impression is that, classical/old Japanese aside, light novels are pretty close to being as hard as it gets in terms of kanji and grammar. Most of them are harder than NHK news articles. So uh, pardon my ignorance, but what sorts of books would these be?


The Master List of Book Clubs labels the Re:Zero and DanMachi book clubs as “advanced”.
But it’s not only the difficulty of the material as such, but also the reading pace which determines the difficulty. So for “not technically hard” books we will set up a schedule that goes much faster than the standard 15 pages per week that’s often applied for Intermediate book club books.

The nice side-effect of this faster pace is that we can read much thicker books; the Intermediate book club limits its proposals to something around 300 pages to avoid endlessly chewing on the same book.


You are so powerful. Do it! I’ll nominate a couple too after the initial 5 are in.

Not a show stopper. We might want to give extra time before we start reading it, in case anybody wants to make a long-distance order. I, for one, do not live in Japan anymore. I do live in Seattle, and we have a Kinokuniya, but its selection is limited. Would be curious to hear where everyone is coming from. Might make a pole.


You already have the nomination in the other book club (which is how this all started by the way, so thanks a lot!) - I hope you will transfer it to this one instead?

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Might as well, hadn’t I.


The Devotion of Suspect X



運命の数式。命がけの純愛が生んだ犯罪。 東野圭吾作品読者人気ランキング第1位。累計220万部突破、直木賞受賞の大ベストセラー。 天才数学者でありながら不遇な日々を送っていた高校教師の石神は、一人娘の美里と暮らす隣人の花岡靖子に秘かな想いを寄せていた。 ある日、靖子の前夫・富樫が母娘の居場所を突き止めて訪ねてきた。金を無心し、暴力をふるう富樫を、靖子と美里は殺してしまう。 呆然とする二人を救うために、石神は完全犯罪を企てる。 だが皮肉にも、石神と帝都大学の同期であり、親友である物理学者の湯川学がその謎に挑むことになる。 ガリレオシリーズ初の長編。第134回直木賞受賞作。第6回本格ミステリ大賞受賞。2005年度の国内の主要ミステリランキング「本格ミステリ・ベスト10」「このミステリーがすごい! 」「週刊文春ミステリベスト10」すべてにおいて1位獲得、エドガー賞(MWA主催)候補作にもなった。


Yasuko lives a quiet life, working in a Tokyo bento shop, a good mother to her only child. But when her ex-husband appears at her door without warning one day, her comfortable world is shattered.

When Detective Kusanagi of the Tokyo Police tries to piece together the events of that day, he finds himself confronted by the most puzzling, mysterious circumstances he has ever investigated. Nothing quite makes sense, and it will take a genius to understand the genius behind this particular crime…

One of the biggest-selling Japanese thrillers ever, and the inspiration for a cult film, The Devotion of Suspect X is now being discovered across the world. Its blend of a page-turning story, evocative Tokyo setting and utterly surprising ending make it a must-read for anyone interested in international fiction.


Amazon link here.
eBook available.

Personal Opinion

This guy is one of the titans of Japanese mystery/crime fiction, and this is probably his best known book. Still, it’s not gruesome crime. This is from a review on Amazon.jp for the current selection, 「夜市」, and I think it applies well here too: ホラー系が苦手な方でも安心して読める作品です。

Come for the noir streets of Tokyo, the thrill of the chase, and a penetrating look, I think, into the Japanese psychology.

Pros and Cons for the Book Club


  • A mature read
  • No super specialized vocabulary
  • English language version exists
  • Internationally popular
  • It has a movie
  • Realistic fiction


  • A bit on the longer side of the page limit
  • Realistic fiction


First Three Pages of Chapter One

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

Ah ok. I’ve never been in a book club, so I didn’t realise. But yes, I get the idea now. The books are not necessarily more advanced than things that are already on the forum, but they might be finished more quickly. That makes sense, and it’s probably more engaging for people who are able to finish the story more rapidly.

I have some exams to study for, so I’ll probably only consider becoming active in another 2-3 weeks, but I’ll probably drop in to see what’s come up. As far as books go… I probably won’t be going home for a few months, but I know I’ve got a stack of Konosuba volumes on a shelf back there. My only other Japanese books are textbooks. (Unless you count my friend’s university maths notes, which he sent me so I could explain things since I already knew some of the concepts.) I haven’t had the chance to get anything more serious yet, and frankly, the next series I’ll be going after is probably The Rising of the Shield Hero. :stuck_out_tongue: I’ll look into getting technical books soon since I want to study engineering in Japan if possible, but I’ll leave that for when I can read light novels comfortably, since technical vocabulary is usually less cryptic than literary expressions.


I have read the English translation of the devotion of suspect x, and I enjoyed the book.


Just wanted to add that The Devotion of Suspect X is also part of a series of detective novels, so if you pick this book, you can read more of the same character if you pick another book in the series as your next novel. If you do, it will be an easier read than picking another book by a different author since authors tend to use the same vocabulary across books.

I never read Snow Country, but I did read The Old Capital, and I loved that book, so I don’t think you can go wrong picking a Kawabata book either.


@rhet @infinitia @QuackingShoe @KazeTachinu @Boooyaaaaah @NathaLire @jprspereira @Iwasneverhere

If any of you are still interested in joining!


I read this book a while back and really liked it a lot. It is part of a (loosely interconnected, perhaps?) series but I read it first and had no problems. Also, I would read it again, since it was one of the first books I read in Japanese and I’m sure to get more the second time.


Would the Nausicaä manga go in this group? :slightly_smiling_face:


Oh! It sure would!
Sadly I sold those manga already, but I’d certainly comment on the threads if it gets picked :slight_smile:

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Is it, though? :stuck_out_tongue:


I’m sorry, I don’t understand this part. Can you run it past me again?


I… hm… parted ways with those books? In exchange for a monetary compensation.
Space comes at a premium here


Is it particularly difficult or something?

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I couldn’t say. I’m fairly sure I considered nominating it for the Intermediate club, and seanblue or someone said “oh, noooo. far too difficult”, but I can’t for the life of me find that post at the moment…

Aha, found it. It was @Naphthalene.


it has a fancy ‘a’ in the title which automatically raises the difficulty level.


If it was passed by as too difficult in the intermediate club, it’s welcome here. Manga are as welcome as anybody? Do we do manga in book club around here? I’d be fine with it getting nominated.


It uses obscure vocabulary and kanji that required the author to add dictionary definitions in the margin. There’s also a lot of old Japanese (or at least the way modern people think old Japanese to sound like I guess). Expect some 朕 and some 汝.
Also dialects.