Japanese Novel Review: Penguin Highway by Tomihiko Morimi

I just want to say that I think this would be a great first novel for any beginner or intermediate Japanese learner.

Why did I pick this book?

Sometimes I lurk on the subreddit ‘LearningJapanese’ for inspiration and to find different media or resources that are out there. I saw that Penguin Highway was recommended as a great beginner novel, I looked into the author more and realized that I have other novels by him and decided to purchase it.

I didn’t really look too much into the story line before buying it, but I was interested in it mainly because it was labeled as a SciFi novel. I used to enjoy that genre when I was younger, and the idea of reading a science fiction novel in Japanese aimed for adults seemed a bit intimidating so I thought this would be a good place to start.

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Japanese Novel Review: 『夏の庭 ・The Friends』 by Kazumi Yumoto

The review is for the novel 夏の庭(なつのにわ)・The Friends by 湯本 香樹実(ゆもと かずみ). This is her first and most popular most novel.

I will give a quick over view on the story line, but my main focus in this review is accessing the book as a language learning tool. I want to share my experience of reading the book and share with others what I feel the approximate level is and who this book is suited for.

Before I start, I just want to say that I think this would be a great first novel for any intermediate Japanese learner.

Why did I pick this book?

I was recently inspired to finally pick up and read this book thanks to a recommendation from someone on the Japanese book based social media platform, Bookmeter. Before I started reading a novel, I was reading a different one that turned out to be a hard read for me due to cultural references and random topic changes. I decided that I needed a break and asked online for novel recommendations. I have recently discovered that I tend to gravitate more to books that are set outside with descriptions that are more nature based. I just haven’t really been into reading passages describing Tokyo. I used to work there and didn’t really find it a visually appealing city. I was pretty excited when this book was recommended to me as I already had it on my book shelf! I do not remember my reasoning for buying this book, but I am really glad that I had it. I used to pick books at random to purchased based off of the cover or books that stood out to me based off of the amount of times I have seen them in prominent areas of libraries and bookstores.

I used to be worried about having too many books as I wasn’t really making use of them, but now that I am unable to get new books easily due to COVID, I am extremely happy that I have a small library of books waiting to be read.

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