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Urthona
June 12th, 2009, 14:50
So, one of the Japanese teachers I sit next to wants to help me read a novel for the remaining time I'm here.

I told her that I always wanted to read Mishima Yukio one day and that I've read Murakami in English before. We both easily decided that Mishima is way to difficult - she mentioned that he had really beauitful prose but was difficult even for the high school students, so I would be screwed over royally. (While she is a Japanese teacher, her English is better than most of my JTEs and she wants to help me it seems after I helped her a bit when she was reading "Cathcher in the Rye")

At the moment, she's helping me read 海辺のカフカ. I can read some of it - albeit slowly and was wondering if there is something that is a bit more welcoming to a beginner?

I've heard that 吾輩は猫である by 夏目漱石 is easy. Anyone have any recomendations?

AliDimayev
June 12th, 2009, 14:58
I had to read parts of Tokage by Yoshimoto banana or something back in my college days. Of course, I read it alongside with a diciontary and such, but it was not so bad.

Wakatta
June 12th, 2009, 15:37
I've heard that 吾輩は猫である by 夏目漱石 is easy. Anyone have any recomendations?

I'm alternately reading this and Bocchan (I really should just decide on one) and while I wouldn't say "easy", I think it's the easier of the two.

You can try this post:

http://how-to-learn-any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=6241&PN=1&TPN=1

It includes a bunch of books and audio versions. I listen to the audio whenever I can, and then use rikai-chan to help me read the text. I'm still only on the very start of 吾輩は猫である (I put it down for a while and just came back), I like it a lot. I think the Bocchan reader is better in that she's more expressive, but I guess the Neko reader is good, too: she does kind of sound like a cat. There's a certain self-satisfied purring quality in her tone.

吾輩は猫である。 名前はまだ無い。

Happyscrappy
June 13th, 2009, 23:07
Sorry, I'm not at the point of reading novels yet - but for people more at my lowly level who are interested in reading stuff with pictures to give some context, here's a neat online doraemon flash web comic.
(http://dora-world.com/yojigen/comic/)
Unfortunately, it doesn't use much kanji at all...but for increasing vocab and such, it should be a neat diversion.

(http://dora-world.com/yojigen/comic/)

Nukemarine
June 14th, 2009, 20:37
A nice stop gap between mangas and novels are the scripts at dramanote for Japanese shows you may have seen. ǂܥ́[ (http://dramanote.seesaa.net/)

It's like reading a short story, but you have the TV show as an easy visual reference. Since it's online, you can use Rikaichan to help translate difficult words. You can also print them out (I use Word, converted to 2 columns) to read offline.

dombay
June 14th, 2009, 21:36
Does it have to be a Japanese book?

Like I have read Japanese translations of some of my favourite childhood books. They're furiganed and they're fun to read from a Japanese perspective. Stuff like Harry Potter, Matilda, even Tintin is easily available in translation.

keekers
June 18th, 2009, 16:00
I'm reading Kokoro by Natsume Soseki. So far so good.

Igor
June 18th, 2009, 19:42
There's a series called 'Hajimete no Bungaku' that I've been going through, which is basically a collection of short story works by various authors with furigana added for younger readers. It's pretty good - there's a broad range of genres covered and it's a good way to get a sampling of someone whose stuff you might want to read more of.

Avocado
June 19th, 2009, 02:57
I'm reading Kokoro by Natsume Soseki. So far so good.
I've read some of it, but it's so full of words in kanji that are normally seen in hiragana that I've set it aside for now.

Urthona
June 19th, 2009, 08:31
I've been skimming Harry Potter and it is pretty interesting. Not too difficult to get the gist of what is going on. The teacher I sit with and I decided that 坊っちゃん by Natsume Soseki would be a good introduction.

She gave me a copy and helped me furigana the words I didn't know, so the first chapter took about an hour or so with her helping me. Reading novels seems to be a bitch but is really helpful - in some ways it is easier than manga because it dispenses with the utterly absurd words that come up in the manga I've been reading at least.

keekers
June 19th, 2009, 11:01
I've read some of it, but it's so full of words in kanji that are normally seen in hiragana that I've set it aside for now.
Yeah, that kind of frustrated me in the first few pages or so, but once you get used to it it's not so bad.

UPGRAYEDD
June 19th, 2009, 11:17
I've been skimming Harry Potter and it is pretty interesting. Not too difficult to get the gist of what is going on. The teacher I sit with and I decided that 坊っちゃん by Natsume Soseki would be a good introduction.

She gave me a copy and helped me furigana the words I didn't know, so the first chapter took about an hour or so with her helping me. Reading novels seems to be a bitch but is really helpful - in some ways it is easier than manga because it dispenses with the utterly absurd words that come up in the manga I've been reading at least.


夢十夜 would be much easier to get through than 坊っちゃん

Miss_igirisu
June 23rd, 2009, 05:01
There's this really good book called Read Real Japanese Read Real Japanese Fiction: Short Stories by Contemporary Writers: Amazon.co.uk: Michael Emmerich: Books (http://tinyurl.com/mxbgct)

It might be of help.

How I did it was by starting at young fiction books I got from Book Off then progressing on from that. It took me bloody ages to read the one page when I started but I'm getting faster now. :054:

Urthona
June 25th, 2009, 09:12
Thanks for the advice everyone. The audio website is particularly good.

I've been doing a chapter of 坊っちゃん the days this teacher comes in and it is going really well. Easier to understand then the short tankas I read with her - 万葉集 - we watch a video podcast of them and she helps with parts I miss.

I've looked at the other books and I'll probably take them home with me.

Anyway, on the drama note website, I've been using that for a while but is there a version for anime? I occasionally watch some anime and I would find it useful to read those scripts because it seems much harder to follow dialogue-wise.

Abide
June 25th, 2009, 14:55
ノルウェーの森 is a very good beginning novel. Any kanji that comes up you should probably already know by now. I'm new to these forums so I'm not familiar with how long you've been in Japan, but if you've even been there for less than a year this book should be manageable.

I'm kind of surprised Mishima was thrown out though. Definitely worth the trouble of looking up a few words you don't know! As for whoever suggested Bochan, that's a pretty good choice too. Its what, a middle school level book right? Not bad for starting.

This has probably been stated before but for the love of god stay away from manga and comics if you're taking enriching your Japanese seriously.




Yeah, that kind of frustrated me in the first few pages or so, but once you get used to it it's not so bad.

Do you mean once you get used to it and start looking up every kanji to understand its meaning its not so bad? Or do you mean you just start skipping the kanji and assuming you get the "gist" of the sentence and move on? Big difference between the two.

keekers
June 29th, 2009, 11:22
Do you mean once you get used to it and start looking up every kanji to understand its meaning its not so bad? Or do you mean you just start skipping the kanji and assuming you get the "gist" of the sentence and move on? Big difference between the two.
I can already read most of the words. I probably only need to look up a few words per page and they're just the words that aren't so common nowadays. The kanji for words that are usually written in hiragana, like conjunctions and adverbs and such like しかし, ほとんど, etc. (然し 殆んど) you can memorize after looking up once because they are used quite frequently in the book.

Igor
June 29th, 2009, 19:21
This has probably been stated before but for the love of god stay away from manga and comics if you're taking enriching your Japanese seriously.

Why?

Abide
July 5th, 2009, 06:09
Igor,

When I say that, (and I wasn't being very specific in retrospect) I mean to avoid comics/manga if they're your only source of Japanese reading. Just to keep this short, the way characters speak in those comics are no more true to life than English dialogue found in Spiderman or Batman. A lot of novice Japanese learners think if they just cram manga and anime in and can even understand them to a certain degree that they're "set" so to speak and that they can manage in the country. This often leads to odd or animated speech that doesn't seem natural.

That said, what I would consider a big plus from manga, especially the more adult manga, is that you can learn a good deal of kanji from it! I think manga/anime are great supplementary materials but should never be used alone. Just my opinion though. For all I know there are a few people out there that learned everything they ever needed to know from comics, I've just never met them. :)

Urthona
July 6th, 2009, 10:48
The other thing with manga I've noticed is the vocabulary. Depending on what you are reading, you are probably getting near completely worthless vocabulary that you never use in your daily life.

UPGRAYEDD
July 6th, 2009, 11:01
Whatever

宇宙 was straight up on JLPT 2級

Thanking 銀河英雄伝説 for that one.

Urthona
July 6th, 2009, 11:36
Whatever

宇宙 was straight up on JLPT 2級

Thanking 銀河英雄伝説 for that one.

Space is a common word, I'm thinking of stuff you get in the vampire, fighting, whatever manga as somewhat less useful.

kamukamuume
July 7th, 2009, 00:11
Space is a common word, I'm thinking of stuff you get in the vampire, fighting, whatever manga as somewhat less useful.

to add to the fact that even if that stuff did appear in the JLPT 2, that wouldn't change the fact that it's not useful in everyday life.

there was also an essay about the characteristics of some jungle-dwelling mammal, but that's not the first conversation I'd have in a bar.

Gusuke
July 7th, 2009, 08:59
to add to the fact that even if that stuff did appear in the JLPT 2, that wouldn't change the fact that it's not useful in everyday life.

there was also an essay about the characteristics of some jungle-dwelling mammal, but that's not the first conversation I'd have in a bar.

Hahahahaha, that question was pretty easy! I don't think there's such a thing as useless vocab; I'm playing Gundam: Gihren's Greed for PSP, and I'm learning a ton of military related vocab. Sure, I'm not going to use it in real life, but it's fun to learn, and I'm still increasing my Japanese vocabulary.

keekers
July 7th, 2009, 09:32
Hahahahaha, that question was pretty easy! I don't think there's such a thing as useless vocab; I'm playing Gundam: Gihren's Greed for PSP, and I'm learning a ton of military related vocab. Sure, I'm not going to use it in real life, but it's fun to learn, and I'm still increasing my Japanese vocabulary.
Yeah, I think so too. Whenever I dismiss a word as "useless", it's exactly that word that comes up in conversation a few days later and I can never remember it.

Igor
July 7th, 2009, 17:39
Seriously, I was like, komorebi, who the fuck uses that? And then like two of the enka songs the old dudes at the BoE sang the next week had it in. There's a matter of precedence as far as what you ought to spend most of your energy memorizing, but even so nothing's actually useless.

Also, on the manga = NO discussion... While that's true to some extent, you also don't sound natural if you only stick to novel/essay format, either. If someone studying English asked me for reading recommendations to help their spoken English, I'd probably give them Batman over Hemmingway. Of course real people are best, but you can't always have real people around, or even radio/TV/whatever. All things in moderation, etc. etc. If someone's smart enough to realize that what they're reading is going to be somewhat different from how people actually speak I don't see the problem, and if they're not, they're going to have an uphill battle whatever they do.

UPGRAYEDD
July 7th, 2009, 20:26
I'd rather talk like the Japanese equilivent of Faulkner than Batman.

Also Hemmingway is a very casual straight to the point writer and I think his books would be a good tool for people trying to learn English.

Igor
July 7th, 2009, 20:47
All the Japanese people will say you sound like a stiff, though. If you're cool with that, whatever I guess!

UPGRAYEDD
July 7th, 2009, 20:51
Maybe I should just say that I'd rather talk like a university educated person than a working class dude.

Igor
July 7th, 2009, 20:59
Most working class dudes are university educated, though. My younger teachers/BoE people quote Gundam ironically. You're bound to make more friends doing likewise than sounding like Soseki, unless you're aiming for the ojisan crowd. I dunno, like I said, to each his own, I just prefer to mix it up. You can learn something useful from pretty much any source.

kamukamuume
July 8th, 2009, 10:22
let me clarified this ones.

there's no word that's entirely useless, but we only have so much time on this spinning earth, and it could be argued that you'd be better off learning words and grammar by frequency/likelihood to come up in everyday life.

I mean, if I'm going to be studying Japanese either way, I'd rather learn to be like "hey man, I kind of fucked up my knee. could you help me find a hospital?" than "I seem to have collapsed upon this paved sidewalk. a rather excruciating pain is radiating from what I believe to be my knee. can I receive the favor of having you inform me as to where the nearest hospital may be?"

eventually, though, it'd be nice to learn to say that so you could bust it out at really strange times.

Avocado
July 8th, 2009, 12:03
I think that as long as you're actively doing SOMETHING with the language you're doing pretty well for yourself. Vocabulary learned is vocabularly learned, and if you ever feel that you're missing some all important word then it's easy enough to look that up on your own independently and add it to your list of things to study.

kamukamuume
July 8th, 2009, 12:56
I think that as long as you're actively doing SOMETHING with the language you're doing pretty well for yourself. Vocabulary learned is vocabularly learned, and if you ever feel that you're missing some all important word then it's easy enough to look that up on your own independently and add it to your list of things to study.

I feel like the way the Japanese education system teaches English is proof that that's not true.

Igor
July 8th, 2009, 17:55
I mean, if I'm going to be studying Japanese either way, I'd rather learn to be like "hey man, I kind of fucked up my knee. could you help me find a hospital?" than "I seem to have collapsed upon this paved sidewalk. a rather excruciating pain is radiating from what I believe to be my knee. can I receive the favor of having you inform me as to where the nearest hospital may be?"

eventually, though, it'd be nice to learn to say that so you could bust it out at really strange times.

Yeah, that's pretty much my approach. If you just stick to fancy-schmancy kanji words, you tend not to be able to come up with them in the heat of a conversation and then you're totally fucked. If you build a foundation of simple words you can just be like, 'yeah, the twisty thing you use on wine corks' when you blank on 'corkscrew', which people do all the time in their native languages anyway.

Which is why I pretty much read everything I can get my hands on, especially light fluffy stuff, because volume gets you used to the easy words that people use all the time.