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Thread: Easy to read novels

  1. #1
    Senior Member Urthona's Avatar
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    Default Easy to read novels

    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?

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    Али Димаев AliDimayev's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easy to read novels

    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.
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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Urthona View Post
    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...241&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。
    Last edited by Wakatta; June 12th, 2009 at 15:38.
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    Senior Member Happyscrappy's Avatar
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    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.

    Unfortunately, it doesn't use much kanji at all...but for increasing vocab and such, it should be a neat diversion.

    Last edited by Happyscrappy; June 13th, 2009 at 23:30.

  5. #5

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    A nice stop gap between mangas and novels are the scripts at dramanote for Japanese shows you may have seen. ǂܥ́[

    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.

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    Daimyo ***** dombay's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easy to read novels

    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.
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    I'm reading Kokoro by Natsume Soseki. So far so good.

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    Senior Member Igor's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easy to read novels

    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.

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    ERRRRRGG Avocado's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by keekers View Post
    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.

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    Senior Member Urthona's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easy to read novels

    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Avocado View Post
    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.

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    VIP UPGRAYEDD's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Urthona View Post
    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
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    Smashes through the wa Miss_igirisu's Avatar
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    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

    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.

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    Senior Member Urthona's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easy to read novels

    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.

  15. #15

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    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.



    Quote Originally Posted by keekers View Post
    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.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Abide View Post
    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.

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    Senior Member Igor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Abide View Post
    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?

  18. #18

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    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.
    Last edited by Abide; July 5th, 2009 at 06:10.

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    Senior Member Urthona's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easy to read novels

    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.

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    VIP UPGRAYEDD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Easy to read novels

    Whatever

    宇宙 was straight up on JLPT 2級

    Thanking 銀河英雄伝説 for that one.
    You see, gentlemen, a pimp's love is very different from a square's...
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