Japanese Novel Review: 世界から猫消えたなら If Cats Disappeared from the World by Genki Kawamura (川村元気)

This is a book review for Genki Kawamura’s If Cats Disappeared from the World(世界から猫消えたなら).  I picked up this novel in a recent bulk order from Amazon JP for 654 yen. I have seen this novel mentioned by other language learners as being an easy read.  In my search to find novels that would be good first reads for other language learners, I decided to finally read it. The rumors were true!  This would be a great starting place for lower intermediate readers and above who want to start reading novels in Japanese.  Its an easy to follow, plot based story line that is written with simple grammar and vocabulary.

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Japanese Novel Review: 麦本三歩の好きなもの 第一集 Sanpo Mugimoto’s Favorite Things Part One by Sumino Yoru (住野よる)

This is a book review for Sumino Yoru’s 麦本三歩の好きなもの第一集(Sanpo Mugimoto’s Favorite Things Part One).  Its about the daily life of a carefree(or careless depending on who you ask) librarian.  Cute warm collection of snap shots from a young woman’s life.

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Japanese Novel Review: この嘘がばれないうちに Before this Lie gets out by Kawaguchi Toshikazu (川口俊和)

So this isn’t really the book that I set out to read, but I am thankful for the library for having this author! I knew about this author from her more well known book, Before the Coffee gets Cold(コーヒーが冷めないうちに). But Before this Lie get Out(この嘘がばれないうちに) seemed to have a very similar concept of a collection of short interconnected stories related to time travel.
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Japanese Goals: March 2021

I haven’t written any study updates recently, so I decided to make a stronger effort to make one each month.  I really think that having well thought out measurable goals helps me to improve at a faster rate then I would otherwise.  I also really like to read about how other people are studying and what they have been doing to improve.  Seeing other people work hard always inspires me to do the same.  Since I haven’t written out any of my study goals and progress yet this year, I want to take a second to review of the past two months.

Preface:

Just want to give you guys a little context to help understand my lifestyle and the amount of time that I am able to put into my Japanese.  I live with my partner in America and work full time.  While my job has absolutely nothing to do with Japanese, my partner is Japanese and we almost always use Japanese when we are communicating with each other.

2021

I made three overall Japanese goals in 2021. 

1. Take the JLPT
2. Read 1 book each week and post a book review for it
3. Work towards reading 2 books each week

I cannot really control whether or not the will be a JLPT test in America this year, I want to take the time to prep for the test so that I can pass it if available.  I was planning on taking N1, but that’s when I felt like I was in a hurry to reach certain career goals.  I have a different mind set right now and would rather take N2 as I 100% want to have some JLPT certification.  With COVID, moving back to Japan seems father away so I am in less of a hurry to reach my previous goal.

I have been meeting my bottom line goal of one book a week but haven’t really been doing much to work on reaching 2 books per week.  I think this is more of a focus issue as I am not able to sit down and knock out books like I used.  I think its going to take time and practice to manage my time and build up focus.

January:
In January, I experimented by using Tadoku.app to keep track of my pages and as motivation to read more.  I think it worked well!  I ended up in 7th place for last round with 1671 pages and 6 novels read to completion.

Books Read in January(6):

星の王子様 by アントワーヌ・ド・サン=テグジュペリ
僕ら生きる by 原田マハ
神去なあなあ夜話 by 三浦しをん
そして、バトンは渡された by 瀬尾まいこ
おおかみこどもの雨と雪 by 細田守
世界から猫を消えたなら by 川村元気

February:

I didn’t really plan out any solid goals for February and it showed. I think my reading speed has gotten up a bit as I find my overall goal of one book a week very easy at this point. I was more focused on using my time on other personal and profession goals outside of reading and was able to get done.  I read only 4 Japanese novels to completion this month.

One thing I did do in February is return to using anki.  I took a few months break as I felt that it was taking away too much time from reading.  But to be honest, I make more progress when I am using anki.  I made more realistic card goals and have been using anki for a few minutes everyday.  I think this will be a great way for me to get prep for the JLPT in December.  While anki doesn’t really help me to remember the meaning of words, it really helps to drill in the readings.  I continue to use books for repeated exposure to words to get a deeper idea of the meaning and usage for each vocabulary term.

In February I checked up my local library system and discovered that they have a decent amount of Japanese novels!  I was really surprised as I didn’t even think to look at the library when I first moved here. I did look at the local university library to find novels, but due to COVID they were not open to the public. This year I ended up creating a library card to make use of museum passes and was shocked to find over 500 Japanese novels in the online catalog! I have only been using the library for about a month now and have already found a lot of books that I want to read. Now that I have discovered that the public library system system has a good amount of Japanese novels that I can choose from, I feel much more motivated to up my game.  I also feel like this gives me more freedom to buy books that I really want to read.  Some of the newer books that I am interested are as expensive as $30 each!  Reading books from the library will help me offset the price of more expensive books while keeping my $500 yearly budget.

Books Read in February(4):

霧のむこうのふしぎな町 by 柏葉幸子
むらさきのスカートの女 by 今村夏子
あひる by 今村夏子
この嘘がばれないうちに by 川口俊和

March:

My ultimate goal for this year is to push my reading speed up to 2 novels per week. Now that I have access to more novels, I want to start working on this goal more seriously.  I think having a solid place to track my pages will really help me out so I made a shopping trip to Kinokuniya and picked up a few things.  I now have a planner and a note book. 

For the campus planner, I want to track how many days I spend on each novels and the amount of pages that I read per day.  It looks like Tadoku.app will have another round this month and I think that I will join that as well for motivation again.  I like that it is every other month as I get a bit burned out at the end after looking at all those numbers

I got the notebook as a place for me to take notes while reading.  I only take notes for translating parts of the story and writing down different topics that I want to mention in reviews.  I usually use my computer for this but find that having such easy access to the internet is a huge distraction and touching my computer pretty much means that I am going to take a break.  I think a notebook might be a great way to keep me more focused while still keeping track of important information for articles.

I want to continue to work on anki and be mindful of having reasonable goals.  I think using anki long term without breaks will really be useful to me in the long run.  I know I wrote about quitting SRS before as I do think there are many fundamental issues with it… but it is a tool and there are ways to experiment with it and make it work for you.  I really do not want to spend more then a few minutes on it per day.

In order to help train myself to sit for longer periods at a time I plan on using the Pomodoro method.  Basically, its a timer method where you set time for studying and breaks. I used it the last time I was a student and it worked really well for studying.  I find that it helps to really cut down on decision fatigue as everything is already planned out.  I don’t have to think about when to take a break or when to start back up again. I plan on starting off with 30 minutes at a time and increasing it from there.

Anyone else care to share their study goals?  Would love to hear what everyone is up to.

Japanese Novel Review: 霧のむこうのふしぎな町 The Marvelous Village Veiled in Mist by Kashiwaba Sachiko (柏葉幸子)

One of the main reasons I picked up this novel was to show case Aoi Tori Bunko as a potential tool for language learners. While books for children are popular with language learners, I think this book is the perfect example to show that what is easy for kids is not always what is easy for adult language learners. I want to take the time to read a book from this publication to show what features might make great language tools and point out areas that might cause difficulties. Previous, I wrote in detail about Tsubasa Bunko here when I wrote a review for Wolf Children(おおかみこどもの雨と雪). There are many similarities between these two publications, but their difficulty levels are different.

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Japanese Novel Review: あひる The Duck by Natsuko Imamura (今村夏子)


I am excited to introduce another wonderful Imamura Natsuko novel to members of the Japanese Book Club Cafe! This time I read the novel Duck(あひる). Like all of the Imamura novels I have read so far, Duck(あひる) also showcases her talents for accessible storytelling with use of easy grammar and vocabulary. I picked this novel up at the local library, but it can be found at Kinokuniya for $8.99. I knew right away that this book was for me because it is my dream to get some ducks once I move back to Japan.

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Japanese Novel Review: そして、バトンは渡された And so the Baton was Passed by Seo Maiko (瀬尾まいこ)

I have been waiting forever to get And so the Baton was Passed(そして、バトンは渡された).  I love Seo Maiko and this is her most recent award winning novel.  It took a few years, but her novel finally came out in paper back and I got it at Chicago’s Kinokuniya for $12.99.  This novel is a great example of a typical Seo Maiko novel with elements of a warm writing style and themes of different shapes that a family can take.

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Japanese Novel Review: おおかみこどもの雨と雪 Wolf Children by Hosoda Mamoru (細田守)

I picked up Wolf Children(おおかみこどもの雨と雪) in a recent bulk order where I was trying to find a few books that might be appropriate for N3 level learners. I usually try to stay away from novelizations of anime as I didn’t really enjoy Your Name(君の名は). The book felt like a screen play with physical descriptions thrown in. I think that type of book would be useful to a lot of language learners, but it just wasn’t a good fit for me. But in this case, its a movie that I have seen a long time ago and am not really familiar with so I figured that it would be a good choice for me. I felt drawn to the fact that it was a kids book with an adult female lead. This novel was 696 yen at Amazon Jp.

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Japanese Novel Review: 神去なあなあ夜話 Night Tales from Kamusari by Miura Shion (三浦しをん)

I purchased this novel at Chicago’s Kinokuniya after reading and falling in love with its prequel, The Easy Life in Kamusari(神去なあなあ).  This novel, 神Night Tales from Kamusari(去なあなあ夜話) is written just like the title sounds.  Its been a year since the main character as moved, and he writes a diary secretly at night going over different things that have happen to him since the end of his internship year.

Finishing this novel has really put Miura Shion towards the top of my favorite authors list.  I really enjoy her writing style and her ability to get into niche worlds in each of her novels.

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Japanese Novel Review: 生きる僕ら We are Alive by Maha Harada (原田マハ)

This is a book review for the novel We are Alive(生きる僕ら) by Harada Maha(原田マハ).  I purchased this novel from Amazon.jp for 759 yen as a part of a bulk order late last year. Harada Maha is a very popular author in Japan and out of all of the books that she has written, this book stood out to me the most. I am obsessed with stories of people moving to the country side so I knew immediately that I had to buy this book.

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