What novels (not manga) could i start reading to learn grammar?

Well, as the title says, i would like to start reading a novel, a very simple one since i don’t know pretty much anything, but i think it will help me a lot, i did the same thing to learn english and it was a really good decision, but i have no idea which one i should choose.
The plan is to start reading the book and then pull out the youtube grammar videos to start learning how the sentence structure goes and all that, but as i said, i have no clue about what book to buy, i only know that it has to be something simple, any recommendations?

Check out the Absolute Beginners’ Book Club to see what they’ve read


i have, but its mostly manga, and i feel like a proper actuall book will help me a lot more


Far from it; most of the books covered in the Absolute Beginners’ Book Club are real books, not manga. If you haven’t already done so, it’s really worth taking a look.


I don’t think you should be super picky if your goal is practicing. You said you are just getting started. I’m afraid it’d very difficult to read anything close to a “proper actual book” if you’re only lvl 6 and barely know any grammar.

Illustrations in manga and picture books help understanding quite a bit. And being part of book club you have people to discuss unclear moments with.


This book is written for Beginners. It’s great for learning vocabulary and grammar.


Why not study some grammar up front so you’re not diving in completely blind? Japanese grammar can be pretty wack at times. How would you go about parsing something like しなくちゃならなくなる? Without knowing the constituent grammar points it would be borderline impossible to even know what to search for.

I read only manga for my first year and a half of reading and it worked just fine. The major contributing factor to improvement is volume, not time. If you try to read something that’s too far above your level, you’re going to go very slowly.

Consider this: most novels only have furigana (the small kana above kanji words) on a bare few words. Every time you come across a new word to look up, you’ll have to first find a way to identify the kanji – whether by trying to write it in Google Translate’s handwriting pane or by piecing together the radicals on jisho.org. Meanwhile, lots of manga has furigana on every kanji. If you see a word you don’t know, the reading is right there for you to type into your dictionary. If you’re at a level where you have to be looking up words all the time, reading anything is going to involve a lot of dictionary usage. It’s going to be super painful.

Some people think furigana is a crutch and only read manga that doesn’t use it. Some people think the images in manga are a crutch and only read novels. Personally I’ve seen a ton of improvement by reading full-ruby manga and it hasn’t been difficult to transition into novels, games, or non-ruby manga.


The ニャンニャン探偵団 on the absolute beginners book club!

There are also the 十分読める. These are the easiest actual books that I could find. But to me this only became actually readable after I was done with all n5 and n4 grammar. And by readable I mean that I still have to look stuff up but at least is mostly just vocabulary.

Or you could do something like Read Real Japanese they do a side by side translation of the text with explanations. But this one is recommended to Intermediate learners.

I don’t know how far you are into your studies, but a graded reader might suit your purposes better. They use limited grammar/vocab and increase the complexity of the text at each level. That way you won’t be flooded you with 50-100 new things to learn in a single text.

When you can read a lvl 3 graded reader with no problem, then you could move on to those first two books.


The simplest book I can think of is 魔女の宅急便 (The Witch’s Delivery Service)


Honestly, I don’t even read Japanese full-fledged novels that I have to purchase or pay money for. I simply just hop onto Novel Updates and look for books with ‘Web Novel’ tag on them and then look for the titles on google. Usually, the original version (Japanese version) is on syosetu, while the English version is already up there on the Novel Updates’ page.

The method I’m using to learn them with is:

  1. I look at the recommended titles on Novel Updates (I usually look for completed slice-of-life novels, but you do you)
  2. I check whether it’s a Web Novel or not, if it is then I’ll just look for the Japanese title at syosetu or just google ‘(Japanese title) syosetu’
  3. I click at the link and then copy and paste the whole text on japanese.io and read the whole novel there. It’s got so many useful features, ranging from a built-in dictionary and furigana reader. It also explains grammar points sometimes.

Right now, I’m reading a slice-of-life romance web novel called 妻を殺してもバレない確率 (The Probability of Killing My Wife Without Getting Found Out).

My advice: just read whatever interests you. If it suits your Japanese level but doesn’t interest you in the slightest, then it’d only be painful to read it. It’s better to read something slightly too advanced for your level as long it keeps you hooked until the end.


I was going to recommend this one too. It’s a great first novel for beginners!


I mean, I second people’s suggestion to check out the Absolute Beginners’ Club if you want the intersection of ‘super simple’ and ‘an actual book’. Of the seven items currently listed in the OP, four are books, so I don’t think it’s accurate to say most of them are manga!

If those are too simple for you, look at the Beginners’ Club. This is mostly manga, but the books we have read are almost certainly going to align with whatever other recommendations you get from people. I would say that 銭天堂 (Zenitendou) is by far the easiest book we’ve attempted.

If these are all too difficult, you’re going to have to look at other sources such as graded readers, bilingual texts, Satori Reader, etc. You could also go on FloFlo and pick out a book with a low unique word count. Books published by Aoitori are usually on the simpler end of the spectrum.


Seconding this. I’m trying to finish a textbook (all reading sections of Tobira plus grammar exercises) right now, and while it was on a slightly easier side than my level, it was painfully boring to read. While when I was reading a manga (slightly above my level) where I needed to know what would happen next no matter what, I didn’t mind looking up at the dictionary. Of course, there’s still the delicate balance between what interests you and your level of Japanese comprehension/grammar. If you’re a total beginner, I’d say stick with graded readers and children’s books. I started with NHK News Easy and when I got bored, I tried children’s books. Then actual manga with furigana and few balloons. Now, I can read some mangas without furigana. I’m on my way to novels.


oh, i apologize then! i haven’t really been much around the community section of wanikani so im still getting used to how everything works, i will have another look at it more carefully, thanks!


Yeah, i see your point; i will try to read some manga and see how it goes, at the end of the day they are much easier to find for free than the actual novels, and practice is always good!


thanks! i will have a look at it!


my idea was to pull out a grammar book i have while i was reading something, because studying grammar on its own its really painful for me, and i think doing it while reading something will help me understand everything better + i will be able to learn some more vocabulary. I will definitely give manga a try, you guys convinced me!


i will have that in mind, i think i should be more familiar with how the grammar works before start with actual books, thanks for your help!


i will definitely have a loot at that one, thanks!

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thanks for the links, i will check them out!

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