Textbooks for reading only?

I know this is probably a dumb question, but I am not really interested in learning how to speak Japanese. Listening comprehension would probably be good for anime, but what I’m overall interested in is reading. Obviously, WaniKani is perfect for that goal and I will continue using it.

My question is, is anyone aware of textbooks etc that are specifically geared just towards those who want to learn to read only? I know Genki etc is good and such, but they’re all filled with speaking and writing examples etc, and I’m just not interested in that. I could obviously just skip those portions, but I figured I’d ask to see if anyone knows of anything geared towards me. Thanks again for your help!


Traditional textbooks are geared to classroom environments so the exercises aren’t the most solo learner friendly and the sentences arent natural like you’ll find in native materials but they teach the grammar you’ll encounter none the less. You can skip speaking, writing and listening practice exercises if all you want to do is read.

Honestly I’d watch some cure dolly grammar videos or if you’re interested in video games GameGengo and do a anki deck for at least the first 1k-2k words and just read for the rest. You can then sentence mine what you are reading, find a premade deck, or learn organically without flashcards by looking up the words each time til it sticks.


There is a thing called Graded Readers which are special books (as in, contain stories and such) geared towards learners, and they start from almost zero knowledge up to almost native level. Those can help you get used to reading as such, but they just contain the stories, you need to do the studying yourself. But you can find lots of grammar information online, and you can look up words in e.g. http://jisho.org so maybe that would be an idea for you. There are some threads about Graded Readers here on the forums, and I think there are also some that you can read for free?
Once you are able to read a little bit, you could also join the Absolute Beginners Book Club // Now reading: Cells at Work! // Next: Ruri Dragon - they will start their next book in February so maybe you could test the waters with that one as well. The club members help each other with each and any question people may have, and often people also translate story parts to check their understanding.


“An introduction to modern Japanese” by Bowring and Laurie is exactly this.

However, as Lizziemanan says, it’s a textbook aimed at a classroom & teacher situation, so you may not find it useful.

(It’s also rather pricy)

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My public library has it thankfully!

I completely forgot about Graded Readers. Man, NicoleRauch always coming in for the win. I used to be a lot more active on here a year or two ago, and even then I saw you all the time, and I think we even interacted a bit. Good to see you’re still here!


There’s also some not-so-traditional sources like Tae Kim’s Guide (which also has app versions), Human Japanese (the same people who made Satori Reader iirc $), Imabi, or 80/20 Japanese ($$). All of these are pretty friendly for people that just want to read through them and don’t really hinge on exercises the way Genki or Tobira do, mostly just example text and explanations.

Another option would be something like the Dictionary of Japanese Grammar series which is pretty popular. Tofugu has a short review up here:


I have the first volume and just haven’t gotten around to really using it yet. I’ll take a closer look at it later this evening, thanks!

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80/20 Japanese is really good


You could also have a look at “Kanji In Context: A Study System for Intermediate and Advanced Learners”.

It is a textbook & workbook pair.

The textbook is a pretty straightforward kanji text with the usual readings, vocabulary examples and boxes for practicing writing if you want. Then the workbooks (2 volumes, I think) have accompanying reading exercises corresponding to each chapter of the main text. There’s a section at the front that provides guidance on how to use it depending on your kanji level, but in any case it recommends starting after you have “mastered the 300-500 kanji normally taught in a typical beginner course”.

I bought them years ago during an early attempt to learn kanji that never got off the ground and before I learned of Wanikani. Totally forgot about it, collecting dust on a bookshelf, until this post reminded me that I have it. Thanks! It looks like a pretty thoughtful approach that might be what you’re looking for. I might also crack it open and give it a try. Maybe. :thinking:

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Thanks :blush: Glad I could help a bit.

Yaa I think I somehow came here and then forgot to leave :sweat_smile:
Good to see you’re back! :wave:


I also used 80/20 Japanese (skipping the exercises) and liked it.

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Minna no Nihongo has very few listening exercises, and the speaking part can just be read, apparently some people just skip it.