Japanese Novel Review: 天国はまだ遠く Heaven is Still Far Away by Seo Maiko (瀬尾 まいこ)

Recently Seo Maiko(瀬尾 まいこ)’s words have really made their way into my heart and she has become my favorite author. Heaven is Still Far Away(天国はまだ遠く) is the first novel’s of hers that I have read. I purchased it off of Kinokuniya’s USA online site for $9.99.

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How many Japanese novels do I read at one time?

Reading Multiple Books at a time

If your goal is just picking up a book and reading, then I think reading from random books based off of your mood will help to to reach that goal. But maybe try to think about what is tempting you to read multiple books at the same time.

What makes you want to take a break from a book?

Are you bored of the story?
Is the vocabulary too hard for you?
Too many cultural references that you are unfamiliar with?
Are you just not into the writing style?
Just looking to switch things up?
Do you have more fun reading this way?

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Japanese Novel Review: キッチン Kitchen by Yoshimoto Banana(吉本ばなな)

I had a hard time deciding whether to review this novel or not. Yoshimoto’s Kitchen is famous in both Japanese and English. It is often recommended for beginners and is the go to recommendation for those who are looking to get into the world of Japanese novels. I reread the book, took some notes, and really thought about whether or not I would be able to add anything of value to the discussion on this book. Then it hit me, while I love this novel, I do not think that this is a good book for beginners. I will get more into why I think so in my review below as well as offer some alternative suggestions for those looking for a good first book.

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Japanese Novel Review: 西の魔女が死んだ The Witch of the West is Dead by Kaho Nashiki(梨木香歩)

This is a review of the novel The Witch of the West is Dead(西の魔女が死んだ) by Kaho Nashiki(梨木香歩).  This is a young adult novel that really high lights that fact that juvenile fiction isn’t always easier then regular novels from the language learners perceptive.  I do not recommend that this be any language learners first book.

I bought this book while I was visiting my partner’s parents in Osaka at Book-Off.  I have seen the book a few times and the very easy to read title and cute cover stuck out to me.  It was only 100yen so I decided just to pick it up and opened it up for the first time this year. I was inspired to read this story due to the fact that a Japanese blogger I watch often mentioned it as being one of her favorite books.

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10 Tips for reading novels in Japanese(or any language)

Here are a few thoughts that I have about reading in general and some tips to make it easier for language learners to start reading or to find new books to read.  I think these ideas can apply to any language.  So if Japanese is not your target language, please just replace that word with your language of choice when reading this article.

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Japanese Novel Review: 星の子 Child of the Stars by Imamura Natsuko(今村 夏子)

 

This is a review for the novel Child of the Stars(星の子) by Imamura Natsuko(今村 夏子).  Imamura  is a well renowned author who has won an impressive amount of literary awards.   Child of the Stars won the Noma Literary Prize in 2017 as well as being nominated for the Book Sellers Award in 2018. I looked at this book every single time I walked into Kinokuniya, but never got around to reading it until just now.  I purchased the book on Amazon JP’s online store for 654 yen.

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Japanese Novel Review:5分で読書: きのう失恋した Yesterday’s Heartbreak in 5 Minutes by The カドカワ読書タイム Team

I found this book for free on yomeruba.com. I saw from a post on reddit that this website has been doing campaigns where they have a monthly selection of novels that can be read for free. I decided to read this novel to see if it would be a good choice for beginner students. This is my first time reading a Japanese novel online. I really prefer paper based novels as I love everything related to trees in general. But I really wanted to seek out more beginner reading materials and I am interested in find free materials online to help me with my budget. There are some more expensive hardcover books that I am interested in, but my current budget would only allow me one paperback book per week.

Ive heard of this book series before, but basically it is a collection of short stories with the same theme.  Each story is broken up into sections that would take a Junior High School level Japanese student around a few minutes to read. I think that this format would work well for language learners as well! It is nice that it basically tells the reader a good place to stop. While the description might make it seem like its the same thing as chapters in a normal novel, the timing of these breaks is more consistent.

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積ん読 Tsundoku – My reading line up

I was inspired to write this blog by Peregrinja’s post over on her blog, The Blog of a Reiwan Lady, on her own habit of collecting novels but in Japan and back home.

I am sure that for most people reading this blog, Tsundoku(積読) is a word that you have seen before.  Its basically the habit of collection books but not actuality reading them. The word implies that the book collector had originally planned on, or still does plan on reading the vast amount of books that they have managed to collect.

When I was younger, I was an avid reader in my native language and would read non-stop no matter where I was. My parents really supported my hobby and got my as many books as I wanted. While I had an extremely large collection of books, they were all books that I had read cover to cover and I never really got into the habit of letting books sit around unread. That changed when I moved to Japan. I started feeling guilty about reading books in my native language when I felt that I should have been using that time to focus on my Japanese. This lead to me putting a pause on reading for pleasure for quite a long time.

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Japanese Novel Review: 愛はなんだ What is Love by Mitsuyo Kakuta(角田 光代)

 

So I randomly saw the movie based off of Mitsuyo Kakuta(角田 光代)’s What is Love (愛はなんだ) and fell in love with the atmosphere of the movie.  I have never took an interest in directors before and usually know nothing about them, but for the first time I can say that I am a fan of director and his name is Imaizumi Rikiya(今泉力哉)!

I started watching other movies he has created and found them equally as enjoyable. 

I didn’t even realize that What is Love was based off a book until I saw Inhae’s review on it over on her blog, Inside that Japanese Book. I looked more into the author Mitsuyo Kakuta(角田 光代) and she seemed really interesting and has written some award winning stuff so I decided to buy the novel at Kinokuniya’s USA online store for $8.99.

Story review:

Romantic Horror seems to be the best way to describe this type of story.

This is the story of Teruko Yamada and her process of slowly destroying her life over her obsession with Mamoru Tanaka.  Since the day she met him at a friends party, she started to lose touch with everything else.  Anything unrelated to Mamoru was put in the ‘I don’t care pile’ and left to rot away.  Her work performance started to suffer.  The coworkers that she used to get along with grew distant as she stopped answering phone calls and started coming into work late.  But that was okay with Teruko!  She and Mamoru were doing great from her point of view.  They weren’t official, but they were hanging out, having fun, and she knew things were going somewhere.  He even suggested that she quit her job so that means he was thinking about marriage, right?  She started to live the house wife life and take care of all of Mamoru’s needs. Until he started to feel overwhelmed with Teruko and started to pull away. 

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August and September Goals

 

In this post I want to reflect on the goals I created last month and make new goals for how I would like to move forward in September. Here is what I had planned for August.

I did not read either of the two books that I picked out for myself.  I guess that style does not work for me and I need to be able to pick each book based on my mood the day I start reading it. I think I may have to officially give up on reading Weathering with You(天気の子).  I saw this movie in theaters and really enjoyed it, but I am just not into the idea of reading another novelization of an anime. I think I am just going to give it to a Japanese Professor I know so that she can re-home it.  Having books around that I do not enjoy is kind of bothering me so hopefully I will be able to do something about it soon.

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