Tackle the reading

Hello everyone,

I am sure there exist posts like this already, but I could’t find the one I need (so feel free to link if you know).

I just reached Level 12 (yay) and I would like to start my reading practice, outside from the Genki Textbook I am using right now.

I was hoping for your recommendations. I know Satori Reader but tbh I would prefer a “physical” book. I just prefer reading that way.

That’s the one I found on Amazon, any of you guys tried this?

Thanks in advance.


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Haven’t tried that book out, just talking generally.

One thing you can try out is the Absolute Beginner Book Club, if you haven’t seen that yet, it’s specifically made for those, that are in their very early steps of their reading journey (for example, they haven’t yet touched a Japanese language book before). Sadly the next one only starts up at the end of August, but nothing stops you from joining the current one a bit late, or even start reading one of the books the club already finished (the threads are mostly open, and there are certainly people there, who still have them on watching to answer your potential questions). If you go this route, my personal recommendation is either joining the currently running club, or reading Happiness, both are very simple, easily approachable for beginners.

As for physical books, besides those that are especially meant for western language learners, there are several sites where you can order books from. A big one a lot of people use is CD Japan they ship all over, and their shipping prices aren’t ridiculous. Another option is of course Amazon Japan, but that could be a bit more problematic to order from. In both cases I recommend buying multiple books you are interested in in bulk to save on some shipping.


Personally I wouldn’t go into physical books until level 30 or so. Reason being it’s so incredibly tedious. Chances are that you would still find the digital copies more enjoyable since the look ups are so much better.


As suggested, you could try the Absolute Beginners Club, though some of selections there might be a little too challenging for actual absolute beginners.

I highly recommend reading on your PC and installing Yomichan (the browser extension) for easy word look-up.

NHK WEB EASY is another good place to start to get familiar with basic everyday vocabulary.


Lost of good resources listed here : N5

There digital though but as x90PT said, I would not go into physical books so early in my studies.


Physical’s totally fine if you prefer that over digital. (I pretty exclusively read physical, and have from the beginning.) You’ll just have to get into a different rhythm with look-ups than if you were reading digitally. A dictionary app with handwriting recognition for kanji you don’t know/whose readings you don’t know or can’t guess is probably ideal, or else use Google Translate’s and copy-paste. I use Shirabe Jisho, though its handwriting recognition is poorer than GT’s.

I used the book that you linked, and it was fine for the most part. There’s full furigana so you won’t need handwriting for that if you need to look anything up outside of what’s provided in each story’s vocab lists (or even that’s on them. Some of their translations are a little suspect, in both the vocab lists and the stories themselves, and I remember there was one vocab word that they did give an actual definition of it… just not the one relevant to how it was used in the story. And they wrote the dang thing. There’s also once where they put a synonym on the vocab list and not the actual word they used.)

I have my gripes about it, but overall it’s still pretty good for beginners. iirc correctly, the stories build a bit in difficulty, so the last one is more difficult than the first, but the vocab and grammar they use also build upon each other, so if you read them in order you’re steadily working up.


Not a physical, but Crystal Hunters is a manga that teaches Japanese. They just recently released book 7 so I would check that out. I buy manga in Japanese and just go through just to see what I know and understand. My Happy Marriage is coming out in two days so I got the manga for that to practice reading on. You can use Nihongo Pro on both digital and physical to look up vocabulary quickly. Japanese twitter is also good reading practice too.

As for what you link no I haven’t tried that as those kind of things don’t interest me. If it interests you and you feel it’s motivating then I’d say go for it (as long as there is no romaji of course.)


If you want physical material to read, have you seen Hiragana Times? They have a monthly magazine and as far as I know are still doing print versions. I have seen a couple of copies in the past. As I recall, every article is in Japanese and English. The Japanese articles includes Furigana for all Kanji.

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so early level I would recommend digital, so you can check rapidly the meaning using yomichan or other dictionary.

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Another option for starter material in physical is graded readers. Beware that they can be expensive, so might not be viable because of that. But I enjoyed the Ask graded readers, and I’ve left several reviews of them on in the informal graded readers and parallel text club:

I reviewed my journey with the Ask graded readers when I finished the last (physical) one: Graded Readers and Parallel Texts "Book Club" - #465 by MissDagger


Everyone here is just dodging the question lol
but I actually have that book because my mum bought it me on a whim (at least it wasn’t a Chinese lamp this time)
I’ve only read the first two stories but I think as long as you’ve already got some grammar under your belt, they’re not bad.
I wouldn’t read them if you’re a complete beginner (I’d start with the free graded readers on tadoku or yomujp)
but if you’ve finished the genki books you’ll be fine

Each chapter has a couple of sections: The story without translation, the story with translation, a summary, a vocab list and a small quiz of like 5 questions about what happened in the story (with an answer section)

One issue with it being a physical book unlike digital, is you can’t turn the furigana off, so even if you know the kanji they’re just there, which some kanji learning purists might not like

There’s also some questionable vocab choices, like calling a ‘cellphone’ 携帯電話, when most people would say スマホ (it’s not a word that isn’t used just kinda old fashioned)
and that’s not great when you’re reading this to learn vocab people actually use

What you get out of this book depend’s if you’re in its sweet spot like I am where you know 90% of the words and grammar, so the bits you don’t know are learning opportunities
if you don’t know enough then the translated section doesn’t actually explain it
and if you know too much then it’s just a bit boring, the stories are interesting enough to impart vocab and grammar but not really compelling stories in and of themselves
like the first one is like

‘Ayako takes the train a lot. She watches a lot of people on the train. Here are some people. One day she is on the train to the cinema. There is a woman on the train she sees regularly. She decides to talk to her. The woman doesn’t notice. At the cinema, Ayako sees the woman again and she’s talking to the attendant about seeing a movie with subtitles. Ayako realises she is deaf. they watch the film together. The end.’

like it’s fine reading practice but I’m not exactly that invested in Ayako’s character arc.

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I own that book, but have yet to gotten around to read it.
I personally love these:

Note: You can find them in physical too.
Usually on their site, but has been removed due to vacation at the moment.

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That 20 ‘captivating’ stories book was the first one I read. As other have said, the japanese in there is a bit weird, and the stories are not really ‘captivating’ but hey.

It quite accessible, and being able for just read a whole wall of text for the first time felt awesome. I totally recommend it. You’ll have plenty of time later to read actual native-written texts.


I have the book and I never finished it because captivating is really a bit of an overstatement. However, beginners reading material is rarely ever captivating so that shouldn´t be too big of an issue. My issue was the fact that I assumed it to be much harder then it really was, so when I picked it up there wasn´t really much of a challenge.
And a book that´s not really teaching me anything and isn´t interesting is bound to gather dust. But I it would be much better suited to try and read before you tackle a book club, since the texts are tailored to use easier grammar. You always have the whole japanese text, then a passage-by-passage-translation, a vocab-list for some of the words, then a summary and finally a little quiz to test your understanding. But I also felt that the japanese was a little weird at times. But it may still be good practice and can boost your confidence if your grammar is up to par.

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I go back and forth on this one but it all depends on the person, motivation, and mindset (mindset and motivation are different in this case trust me).

For example someone might be motivated, but if I gave them a kids book their mindset might be like “That’s for babies! I don’t wanna read that!” which is totally fair.

Reading is a goal that can be super easy or difficult depending on your expectations. Satori Reader is recommended a lot because it helps you get engaged in reading material without treating you like you’re a toddler learning Japanese. BUT if you don’t mind having the mindset of a toddler and wanna read, get some toddler books (or Elementary school level stuff).

I agree with others that reading can becoming a big source of burnout if you start too early, but if you’re motivated to learn it all or have a leveled mindset or expectations, go for it asap. Worst case scenario is you learn something either in Japanese or about your Japanese level.