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Book Recommendations for Japanese Books


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Two short story collections
reina tanaka
arisha wrote in japanesebookrec
I'm back, with two more kids' books to share! :)

By the way, I recently joined 読書メーター and would love to have some friends on it! My profile is arisha.

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宇宙人のしゅくだい
by 小松左京 (こまつ さきょう)
Amazon link
187 pages with furigana on all kanji and a picture for every story

The first few lines, from the story 算数(さんすう)のできない子孫(しそん)たち:

「ああ、うんざりしちゃったなア。」と良夫(よしお)くんがためいきをついてえんぴつをほうりだした。
「まったく、こんなに算数(さんすう)のしゅくだいがあっちゃ、たまらないな。」とケンちゃんもいった。
「いやだなあ、頭がいたくなってくる。」良夫(よしお)くんは、あおむけになってつぶやいた。

This is a collection of 25 short sci-fi stories, most of them involving aliens or time travelers or space travel. I expected to like this book, but - to be blunt - I did not. Almost all of the stories ended with a heavy moral message. This book is aimed at children so maybe that's all right for the target audience, but as an adult I found it irritating and would have preferred the messages to be much more subtle. I also found the stories to be quite repetitive, and, as each story is only about five pages long, the few that interested me were too short to actually go anywhere. On 読書メーター this book has generally good reviews, but they seem to mostly come from people who read it as children. I can definitely see feeling nostalgic for this book, but it's difficult for me to see anyone reading it for the first time as an adult and truly enjoying it. The only reason I could see myself recommending this book is because the level of the language in it is fairly easy; that plus the short length of the stories could make this a good choice for someone who's having difficulty finding Japanese books that they're able to read.

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こわい!赤玉
edited by 令丈ヒロ子 (れいじょう ひろこ)
Amazon link
205 pages with furigana on all kanji and frequent pictures of varying sizes.

The first few lines, from the story お客さん by 水木ナオ:

兄(あに)のお客(きゃく)さんは嫌(きら)い。
家(いえ)にあがる前(まえ)から大声(おおごえ)を上(あ)げたりしてさわがしいし、私(わたし)を見(み)つけるとすぐに下品(げひん)なことを言(い)う。私(わたし)の反応(はんのう)をおもしろがる。
姉(あね)のお客(きゃく)さんはもっと嫌(きら)い。
「きっと、ご両親(りょうしん)のいいところを全部(ぜんぶ)もらったんだね。」と言(い)って、姉(あね)のことをべたぼめしてた。彼(かれ)は妹(いもうと)の私(わたし)には目(め)もくれなかった。

On the opposite end of the review spectrum: I LOVED this book. It's a collection of 15 scary stories (the majority of them involving ghosts) from 14 different authors. I love a good scary story and these were at both the right level of language and the right level of creepiness for me. I was afraid that it would be difficult for me to get through a short story collection, because it wouldn't have the same "What happens next???" pull that a novel does, but I was constantly so eager to find out what the next story was about that I think I read this book in three days. My favourite stories were:

お客さん by 水木ナオ, because it was super simple but super creepy,
ひろしくんのお母さん by 山崎香織, because it was just a really good story,
のろわれたクラス by 安藤孝則, because of the twist at the end, and
待ち受け by 緑川聖司, because of the mixture of modern technology with a scary story, and because of the fantastic way it ended.

If you like this kind of scary story then I definitely recommend this book. I'm looking forward to reading more scary stories in Japanese in the future. :D

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