[Seeking Nominations!] Absolute Beginners Book Club // Currently reading: Prefecture Stories

The first three volumes of our current manga Happiness have been made free again on Bookwalker and some other digital sites (ebook Japan wasn’t free when I looked but the others were). Thanks for the heads up @curiousjp!

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For those who were interested in 可愛いだけじゃない式守さん, Volumes 1 and 2 are both currently free on Bookwalker now (through the 14th of April), as well as on Amazon. (This is the second volume link, since I already linked the first volume in the nomination post).

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Hey there, good morning/ evening girls n guys.
I just found out this group. How do I join? What is it for? And which is a minimum WK level in terms of kanji/ vocab knowledge to be comfortable with the earliest reading material?

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Welcome!

The Book Clubs are to help people make the jump from lessons and flashcards to reading actual native content. They help walk you through understanding what’s going on, and sometimes, just talk about the story contents itself.

To join, click the “Now reading:” link at the top of the opening post. That’ll take you to the current book’s dedicated thread. There you’ll find info on the book, a link for where to purchase the book, and also a google doc that includes info on the words and grammar that appear in it, organized by page so you can read along.

The OP recommends JLPT N5 (which iirc the kanji for is almost all covered by WK level 10). WK doesn’t cover grammar, though.

I think it would be more accurate to embrace not being comfortable when starting out. At 3000 kanji, N5 grammar, and part of N4, going from controlled lessons to native content still feels awkward for me. There’s going to be lots of stumbling along the way, no matter when you take the leap. With the book clubs, at least you have a list of words and grammar that you can refer to. The threads provide some additional help, as you can see what confused other people, the answers, and ask your own questions if you’re still not sure.

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:star_struck: ありがとうございます it looks amazing, can’t wait to try something, even tho at this level I’m not even absolute beginner :smiling_face_with_tear:

What grammar level are you atm? I surely didn’t expect to hear this!

Thank you tons for the answer.
I’m receiving way more support and help than I ever thought since I joined wanikani community. I really appreciate that, I live in a 6000 people town in the south of Italy with no native japanese people so I don’t really have any chance to get a tutor/teacher/language partner or else
:pray::pray:

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You could have a look at italki.com. There are lots of tutors available who will give you a one on one lesson and the prices are very reasonable. There are tutors based across the world so you can find someone whose lessons fit with your time zone.

PS - if you act in the next 5 days you can still get the current book (and volumes 2&3) free on Book Walker and some of these other sites.

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I’ve learned the grammar required for N5, and bit of N4, and had already started practicing reading before joining the Absolute Beginner Book Club. What makes it hard to start is that every piece of literature is unique. You could learn 2000 new words from reading one average book, but a lot of them may not appear in the next book you read. So on the next book, it feels like you’re starting from roughly the same spot as the first.

Getting into reading native content early helps, and provides a lot of extra content that might be missing in flashcards and lessons. It will also be overwhelming, but I think that’s natural when starting out. It’s ok to not understand everything on your first, second, or even third read through. Keep checking your dictionaries or vocab lists and rejoice when you learn something new~

When I joined this club, I realized that they already had all of the tools I needed to start. I didn’t need to know everything I had learned “in preparation” for when I’d start reading, because the resource itself already told me what everything meant. In the end, the “pre studying” hasn’t helped much, but pushing forward with reading, even when I don’t understand most of it, has helped a lot. Each reread, I learn something new, and understand the sentence structure a little better.

For clarification, I’m still firmly in the beginner category myself, this is just personal experience. I wish I had started reading much earlier.

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I have italki but never used it. I probably will use it in the future when I’ll have the very least bit of japanese knowledge but for now buying a lesson with a japanese teacher would be 1h of staring each otherr in the eyes :joy: my level is close to zero, but improving quickly.
Hellotalk is revealing to be very useful tho

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I totally get what you mean. It was the same with my first english book, I read tons of english material every day since when I was 11, but the first english book I went thru (‘sapiens’ from harari - philosophy/history/politics and lots of words you don’t see on instagram or google searches lol) took me quite a while to end. I was constantly looking for new words, but I found out that just keep doing this was enough, after many years of experience I could easily be reading about quantum physics understating everything that doesn’t require specific academic knowledge. But honestly I’m not sure that this is the same of what happens when a westerner tries to learn an eastern language with such huge differences.

I’ll happily take your suggestion

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Hey! If the Absolute Beginner Book Club is still a bit too tough for you, I have two recommendations for you:

  • To start out reading, graded readers are great - and of course, free graded readers are even better! They start almost from zero.
  • For later, I think Japanese Short Stories for Beginners is a fantastic book for a reading experience that is harder than the picture-heavy graded readers, but still a fair bit easier than the Absolute Beginner book club picks. The stories aren’t super exciting, but I enjoyed it a lot because it was the first book without pictures that I could actually read without a dictionary.

In general, learnnatively.com is a great website for picking reading material appropriate to any level.

And I second the italki recommendation. My regular conversation sessions there have improved my speaking ability so much, and it’s great having a place to ask questions.

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I put my eyes on this satori reader and have the intention to subscribe because it is something that looks so well made that I’ll use a lot as soon as I’ll be able to!
But at the moment the easiest satori article is too hard even for my level. I’m getting some strong structured grasp on grammar but at what WK level would you suggest me giving it a first try?

this experience gives you feelings of power I konw :wink:

I second this, but I’ll wait because I’m not going thru situation where it would be required to talk japanese any soon, so I’m just focusing on vocab/kanji/grammar but I can’t wait to start reading! :grin:

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For me its more like this tho

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Regarding Satori - yes it’s great! The ability to read, and especially with a tool like that where you have complete control over kanji vs furigana, is going to depend on your grammar level more than WK level, though. In my experience, N5 grammar (Genki I), and a couple years of speaking practice (thereby informally learning much of N4 grammar), was the point when the easy stories on Satori were just right. That being said, Satori provide explanations and translations for everything, so you can jump in earlier (which I also did), it just takes more effort. I haven’t tried their Human Japanese series, but those apps start from level 0 and Satori has extra resources and audio for those which might be helpful. I’ve seen a lot of people recommend them.

I personally found the level 0 and 1 graded readers from ASK publishing were a great stepping stone to reading. The free ones are also ok, but if you can afford them, these paid ones build one upon the other very intentionally and are a pleasure to read. You can genuinely start from zero and work your way up as long as you’re making minimal efforts on the side with grammar progress. After finishing Level 1 is probably when a transition to Satori or books here makes sense.

The other thing I have to say is, manga was impenetrable for me until two things happened: 1) I went through a Doraemon episode together with my Japanese friend and she explained each speech bubble. That was like magic and opened up the casual speech forms amid the distraction of being thrown into a new story. 2) Lurking/following along WK book clubs in retrospect. In the beginning you won’t be able to keep up, but it’s really worth buying a book that’s been covered here and reading through the posts and referencing the vocab sheets. It makes it so much more accessible and you’ll soon find you don’t have to look everything up.

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Thanks a lot for your suggestions and for telling me your experience! I found it very useful, even tho I was hoping to jump onto satori articles in 2-3 months from now. Well I will need more time then haha!

so, you are suggesting me to use the ASK material as the very first approach to reading? What is it exactly?
About grammar, I’m studying the most that I can, considering my currently poor vocab/kanji level

These are the ones I mean - depending on where you are you may be able to find them cheaper elsewhere, or even used. Japanese Graded Readers by ASK – Tagged "Series_Japanese Graded Readers, Japanese Level_Beginner" – OMG Japan

They come with professional recordings of each story on CDs but you can download the audio here: https://www.ask-books.com/jp/tadoku/level-1/

They are expensive and by no means required - but fantastic if you can afford them (as a supplement to a well-organised grammar resource) because they get you started reading and help you build up that skill in a fun and easy way. Edit: so to answer your question - yes it’s what I recommend to first approach reading, but some people use other resources, or dive straight into native materials and battle their way through. Do what works for you!

The main thing I find (personally) with grammar and vocab is to just keep going! It feels slow, but as long as you keep going, the knowledge builds up and it gets faster and faster to learn more.

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I was lucky enough to find all the three volumes of Level 0 on amazon with prime shipping, but dmn it’s lots of money :ok_man:
Just to be clear, because I’m thinking of buying them - are you saying I could begin with these as a preparation for more advanced (yet the simplest available) satori articles? Because I’d really like to start reading ASAP but only if it’s just one step away from my current level, and not more.


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What is your current level? And how are you learning grammar?

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Ok so, I begun studying japanese literally less than a month ago even tho I thought about it for a long time. Before that, only exposure was anime.
I unlocked level 3 this morning and I’m studying genki 1 + some lessons on youtube such as Japanese from scratch with Cure Dolly’. This series brung me to a level where I know how to conjugate verbs and adjectives in their present, past, negative, present continuous (affirmative and negative) and also masu forms, and I’m getting a solid grasp on how everything else works verb wise (or at least I believe so lol). I have a clear idea of what some particles do, such as は, を, が, だ and の and I begun realizing how to form more complex sentences by inverting the positions of the various elemens and particles in a phrase.
This all comes from yt vids, in fact genki study is proceeding slow. I’m a perfectionist and I’m not mentally able to study a chapter if I’m not over with its vocabs list :joy::man_facepalming:

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That’s great! Wow, you are going a lot faster than I did. Yeah, I think you’ll be fine. In fact, follow the link to the audio for these and listen to a few from the Level 0 - if you understand most of it, it’s too easy, start at Level 1.

Once you finish Genki 1 and Level 0 + 1 of the ASK graded readers, yeah, you’ll be ready to start with Satori. Push through several articles. If it doesn’t get easier quickly, then try to make quick progress through Genki 2. By the middle/end of that you’re definitely ready for Satori.

Keep in mind, no matter what, Satori will be difficult at first, then it will get a lot easier after the first few articles.

After you read on Satori for a while, keep in mind reading native material will be difficult at first, and then it will get a lot easier after that initial hump. I’ve never heard of anyone say it was easy. But as you see, there are a lot of kind people on WK who will help you once you get that far.

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