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

Yes! If anybody is interested in taking part, please do vote on the start date :blush:


Now seems as good a time as any to nominate a manga for a future vote. While my main planned nomination is stuck in mental limbo on whether it’d be ABBC or BBC, I feel this one may be best here.



From volume 1’s online store listing:


Her parents have passed away… Her kind big brother has changed completely… A girl, alone and hurt, in search of the kindness of who her brother used to be, she rents a “big brother”…for money. “Even if it’s a rental, I want family (warmth).”

My summary:

Little Kanami has lost the warmth of family at home, following first the death of her parents, and second her once-kind big brother becoming distant and abusive. She lacks the warmth of friendship at school, where classmates either bully or ignore her. When things seem to be at their worst, Kanami meets Makoto, a young man whose kindness is exactly what’s missing from her life. Makoto, seeing a reflection of his own childhood in Kanami, offers a proposition: any time she’s feeling down, she can rent time with him as a big brother.


Physical: Amazon | CDJapan

Digital: Pixiv | BookLive! | BOOK☆WALKER | ebookjapan | Kobo

Personal Opinion

I’ve been reading through 「レンタルおにいちゃん」, and it’s one of the easiest I’ve manga I’ve read yet. Being a manga, the artwork helps with following what’s going on. There is no specialized genre-specific vocabulary to learn.

The story is fairly grounded, with a very small cast of main characters. The hardships don’t feel overly forced, and they’re offset with positive outcomes.

I decided to nominate for Absolute Beginner Book Club because I think it’d be too easy and too quick of a read for the Beginner Book Club. (However, I can move my nomination there if consensus here is that this would be too difficult for ABBC.)

Pros and Cons for the Book Club


  • Story is fairly simple, and easy to follow.
  • Good mix of simple pages and more difficult pages.
  • Volume is fairly self-contained, without ending at a major cliffhanger.
  • Series is only four volumes long, so if anyone wants to read beyond the first volume, it’s a short series.


  • Story involves moments of verbal, psychological, and slight physical abuse, which some readers may be uneasy about.
  • Due to some dialogue-heavy pages along the way, at the slowest reasonable reading pace, it could take up to three months to complete.
  • In the e-manga release, occasionally furigana is a little difficult to read. (Very minor.)
  • Volume is first in a series. While there’s no real cliffhanger at the end of the volume, it’s clearly only a portion of the complete work. (But when has that stopped a nomination from being picked?)


First Three Pages of Chapter One

Additional Pages

Chapter 1 is available for free on Pixiv.

Difficulty Poll

How much effort would you need to read this book?

  • No effort at all
  • Minimal effort
  • Just right
  • Challenging
  • Impossible, even with everyone’s help
  • I don’t know (please click this if you’re not voting seriously)

0 voters


Count me in! I already have the book at home after you recommended it on a different thread ages ago, and I’d be very happy to read it along with a bookclub! My only concern would be the start date. Laid Back Camp starts next week and will run to mid June, I think. Laid Back Camp is obviously much more difficult than this, but I was hoping to follow along as best I could. So, for me personally, the best time to start レンタルおにいちゃん would be about two months from now (which would also give everyone time to pick up a copy of the book). Thank you for putting this book forward! I’m really looking forward to joining in!

1 Like

Probably. For some reason I thought I saw that one list shipping information, but I don’t see it now, so I’ve moved it.

ABBC has なぜ going through July, and わんわん up to August, and a bunch of other items to vote on for after those, so there’s plenty of time until this one maybe gets voted in. But for all we know, the latter half of 2020 may be the season of really popular ABBC nominations coming in. By the time you read through レンタル, it may be way beneath your ability :wink:


I have a question.
Which of the books that have been done already are NOT in a manga format? I’m fine with an image and text underneath, but I don’t enjoy the format where I’m reading text bubbles very much.
I’d also like names of books for people of similar skill level that aren’t manga for me to read.

From the list of things read by the Absolute Beginner Book Club the following aren’t manga. (As far as I know, at least, I haven’t participated in all of them).

The kitty detectives and dog detectives:

“Why? How? Wonders of the World”

“Why? How? Science Stories”

There is also “Stories that can be read in 10 minutes (Grade 2)”, but it seems the club disbanded before the book was finished.

EDIT: Also often recommended for beginners:

Grade readers - These are books specifically for japanese learners. They are not native material, but they help ease the transition.

Picture books


Thanks so much. I’m going to look at kitty and dog detectives to start with, and see how I like it.
I’ll put the others in my reading list :slight_smile:


We are still in the beginning of doggy detective, if you want to read along with an active group =)


Yep. I noticed. When I manage to get a copy of the book(never purchased a japanese book before), I’ll definitely join in.


Hi! I would love to join this book club soon, but I have some absolute beginner questions. When would I be ready to start reading here?
I have started Bunpro, and the original post mentions a grammar level of about N5 so I am working towards that.
However, how do I estimate when I have enough vocabulary to start? What WK level would be appropriate?


Pretty much all of the bookclubs have example pages where you can take a look and see for yourself how difficult you might find it. The general advice is that you need N5 to N4 grammar before you can start tackling a book in the Absolute Beginners Club, but I personally think you can do it with much less grammar - if you have plenty of time and determination to work your way through the pages. This is more likely if you pick a book that interests you. In fact, that’s the most vital thing, much more so than grammar level: that you are genuinely interested in the book.


The original post talks about grammar because that’s a much more important indicator of when you’re ready to start reading :slightly_smiling_face: you can look up vocab fairly easily (or at least, fairly easily if you know the grammar around how things conjugate!), and the clubs put together vocabulary spreadsheets as they go anyway.


@_Marcus, @Radish8, thank you very much. I think I have a better understanding of how to plan my reading goals now ᕦ(ò_ó)ᕤ


Regardless of how much grammar you’ve learned, expect that you may not recognize what you’ve already learned until you’ve seen it a few times. (So don’t let that discourage you!)

You can (time allowing) look up any unknown grammar you encounter, or you can ask it in the book club thread. Asking not only will get you the answer, but it helps out others who might not have fully understood the sentence without realizing it.


I want to start joining a book club, what is the next date? I see this post is from 2019.

Well, the start of the thread is from 2019, sure, but the end of the thread is still current.

As the topic title says, we’re presently reading なぜ?どうして?科学のお話 2年生 - that’s a series of short essays rather than a continuous narrative, so it’s easy enough for you to just pick up and join in wherever. That said, we’re only about a month away from finishing the book, so you might be better off waiting for us to decide our next book, whatever that may be.


I see, how to stay tuned?
I might buy a e-reader, physical books might take to long to ship.
Any suggestions for e-readers?

Also, if a book from a previous book club interests you, you can still read it and ask questions in the relevant threads.


Hi all. It’s time to pick a new book for Absolute Beginner Book Club to read. The なぜ book we have been reading finishes in a couple of weeks. We also have the doggy detectives book running as a spin off club, which goes through to September. We are up to the third of five volumes in that series.

There have been a mix of approaches to picking a book in the past. We’ve had some clubs where someone just picked a book and invited everyone else. And we’ve had some rounds of nominations and polls to pick a book.

The なぜ book has been enjoyable and a nice reading level. There are several others in the series at grade 2 level, and the grade 3 books don’t look dissimilar in difficulty.

Personally I think we’ve done a lot of “book” books recently and that it’s time to tackle a manga again at absolute beginner pace. The more formal style prose books are great, but we need to balance that with the wealth of natural spoken Japanese that comes from a manga reading.

I wondered about a reread of Yotsuba volume 1, originally read by the Beginner’s Book Club in 2017. But: it’s not available as an ebook, which has been important to a lot of people when we’ve discussed books previously.

There are a few manga nominations already but the one that really stands out to me as a good absolute beginner pick is Big Brother Rental which @ChristopherFritz nominated in this post.

I’m tempted to just go ahead and set up a thread for reading Big Brother Rental, but wanted to check first if anyone else had any strong ideas, or perhaps if there’s a strong appetite for another round of nominations followed by a poll.


Ooooh! I read it wrong, thought it said Jun 16 but it’s Jul(y)!!! Maybe I’ll jump in again for the last 2ish weeks then! And I guess it’s not the last live reading session either?

Yeah. I’m actually really interested in Yotsuba and thought about starting it a few weeks back but then I noticed that there’s no ebook. Until there’s no ebook, I’m not reading.

The story seems heartwarming and cute, I also like the art! I’d be in! How about a poll on whether to read Big Brother Rental or go the usual way (nominations & poll)?