Show me your books!

I’m not sure if I have any great answers. Certainly doing it a lot helps, and in this respect I think books and manga are different. In Manga you have a lot of context clues and it’s mostly conversation, while most books give you nothing but the text. (Obviously non-fiction books can be either here). So you need to work on making sure you understand text as text.

One thing I did is read a lot of short stories in places like Aozora Bunko. That way, even if the stories were hard, they weren’t super long, so I could read them relatively quickly. As opposed to reading something like 沈黙 (Silence), which took me a longggg time to finish.

On a simple technical level. I would say to err on the side of looking up words you don’t know in the beginning of the book, as they will likely continue to appear. For instance, to stick with the example above, due to the theme of the book, there are a lot of words like 司祭、神父、背教、踏み絵 etc that I was very unlikely to know, but were in the book a lot. So reading the book got gradually easier over time.

Don’t be afraid to re-read things if you need to. But also try not to get stuck on one sentence forever. At some point you may need to understand that you just don’t get it and move on. Sometimes, something later in the book will make you able to understand a previous sentence, or realize you did in-fact understand something wrong. Like thinking a character said no to something they actually said yes to.

So I don’t know if this is advice, but these are my main suggestions. I realized I wrote mostly about fiction here, but I think much of the same is true for non-fiction. Also, one personal suggestion is to read a variety of topics and types of books. That will give you the most bang for your buck. I think if you approach it from a “reading books” perspective and not a “learn Japanese” perspective, it will also be better.


That’s incredible Ditto san :clap:

This is my feeling right now :exploding_head: :exploding_head: :exploding_head: :exploding_head: :exploding_head:

If you don’t mind me asking, approximately when did you start reading books in Japanese? (12 months ago, 18 months ago etc.)

Approximately, how long did it take to complete a manga chapter at the beginning and in present?(Ex: 30 mins per chapter back then, 10 mins per chapter now etc.)
Also What is the drop in frequency of looking up kanji/words? (Ex: Used to look up 20 times a chapter at the start, now 3 or 4 times etc.)

I know how much my head ached when I read 5 manga chapters for 1.5 hours. Trust me, I am beyond impressed with your dedication and progress :clap: :grin: :bowing_man: :bowing_woman:


Manga would be… around the end of 2017? (I was just under halfway through my first year of university and I’m just over halfway through my fourth now). The first actual book(a children’s book though) I read was at the end of 2018. I should probably also add that the first thing I read in general was a random very easy visual novel during the middle of 2017, though I had to look up literally every other word :laughing:

The first manga I completed was Aria volume 1 with the bookclub and the first chapter probably took quite a few hours because I looked up all the words I didn’t know, which was a lot of them, and also srsed a few dozen, and then I also had to think a bit about the grammar sometimes. The time per chapter pretty quickly went down to 2-3 hours for the following chapters though and was more like 1 hour by the end of the volume.

As for my current reading speed per chapter… it obviously depends on how long the chapter is, so instead I’ll say that the time it takes to read a manga volume ranges from 40 minutes (for something like a slice of life without tons of text) to something like 60-90 minutes (for something that has a lot more text) to a few hours (for something like a 4koma with a less realistic setting, some more obscure vocab, and a high density of text).

As I already mentioned I looked up every other word at the start which could be as much several dozens at first, now I mostly just don’t bother with looking stuff up unless there’s something I’m extra curious about since context usually is enough to figure out approximately what stuff I don’t know might mean in most stuff I’m interested in :slight_smile: (unless I’m reading an ebook where I still do it every now and then just because it’s pretty fast anyway and being able to understand what’s happening from context doesn’t mean I actually know 100% of the words all the time)


Thanks for sharing Ditto san :slight_smile:

It is quite helpful and a level I aspire to reach in the next 2 years.

You are a Bakemono Ditto san :grin:



I think this is the reason I am not able to read books… the moment I feel I am not able to understand something I move on to another book because it kinda irritates me. But next time, the sentence is going to be skipped.

Thanks a lot for your suggestions :slightly_smiling_face:


It’s never too late to join in with the Absolute Beginner Book Club.


Well yes, I would say, the most important thing is to continue. And I think there’s for more benefit in working through a single book and starting a bunch and never finishing them.


When we moved to NZ we gave away most of our books (and lots of other stuff) to try to reduce what we took with us. She still hasn’t forgiven me!

I do have some more books in a box in the garage (we don’t have that much space on our bookshelves).

Luckily Auckland library has a huge selection of Japanese books so most of what I have been reading has been borrowed from the library.


Right… I think I may join the book clubs on Wanikani so that I am motivated.


This is what I’m reading with the Absolute Beginners’s Book Club, “10 Minute Biographies”.

I also bought an art book from one of my favorite animators, Yoshihiko Umakoshi :heart:


Wow, speechless. How long did it take you to amass such a collection of Japanese books?

What about your native language collection - it is bigger or smaller than Japanese one?


I’m really interested in a second grader’s biography of Beethoven.


I have pretty well-stuffed bookshelves of mostly non-japanese books, but I’ve pulled out what I’m pretty sure are all my japanese ones. The Inoue book barely has any text, I’m just obsessed with his art style. しろくま is my latest purchase, bought it after seeing it recommended here on the forums – I haven’t attempted to read it yet but it looked so cute I couldn’t resist. Then there’s my textbooks and kids’ dictionary, most of which I’ve had since I took my first couple of japanese elective classes in college over a decade ago (my teacher recommended getting the kids’ dictionary). At the time I had a boyfriend who was very enthusiastic about me learning japanese (it was his first language) and he gave me the トトロ books that he’d read as a kid. The ラブホテル book I impulsively grabbed without opening it in a second-hand shop in Tokyo that my bandmate wanted to check out. I thought the art looked fun, thought it’d be a comic but it’s full of text. I still don’t really understand what it’s about except that it’s Nobuyoshi Araki? Looks like interviews maybe? I should probably stop being lazy and try to figure it out, lol. The lion book I also got as a souvenir for myself in Tokyo, really like the art in that one.

This thread has me itching to get more japanese books :pleading_face:

As a bonus, this one’s not a book but I keep it in my bookshelf. It’s a neat little children’s’ toy (aslo a gift from my ex), you press the buttons and the little kanji tiles pop up to reveal stroke order and readings ^.^


Probably about 4 years or so. I’ve mostly just had a hard time resisting cheap books :laughing:

I have about 5 books in Swedish – four physical books and one ebook. I’ve read a few more than that though(from the library) and I have a lot more in English(probably 100-200 or so).


So, if a burglar will get into your place (god forbid), they will decide for sure that you are 日本人 who studies English :upside_down_face:


Since I saw at least one e-book covers image, here’s what my digital manga bookshelf looks like (not counting volumes I’m in the middle of reading):

This does include covers for some of my physical manga, but there’s still a lot missing.

Coincidentally, I’m considering buying the first Ojamajo Doremi anime-manga to add as an “easy manga” in my weekly reading. (I watched the series years ago in Japanese without English subtitles, so there’s a lot I missed.)


Books have been my happy place since I was old enough to hold one (many, many, moons ago…)

I have a mix of paper and electronic books, many selections influenced by WK Book Club selections.

I also have a huge number of craft books and magazines, mostly with a focus on Japanese quiltmaking.


Christ, some of you guys are putting me and my pitiful book collection to absolute shame. I’ll try to remember to get a few pics when I get home.


Instructions unclear. Showed people my boobs.


OMG, that were seriously too many books…
I want to ask how long it took you to fully like understand and read (with speed) books. As in my case I need a LOT of time to complete even one page. And did you use anything other than Wanikani, any tips or so.