Book Recommendations for Japanese Books

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end of year survey answers
pm215 wrote in japanesebookrec

1) What is the ratio of books you started in Japanese this year vs. books you completed? How many of each?

I only finished 8 books in Japanese last year, a bit down from last year. I currently have bookmarks in 7 books, but most of those I'm either counting as "midway through" or "didn't quite seriously start yet". There's only one that I thought was so completely awful I couldn't bear to read any more (迷い猫オーバーラン!, an appallingly cliched light novel).

2) Favorite Japanese book completed or started this year? Least favorite, if you have one?

Nothing this year stood out as spectacularly better than the rest. 翻訳夜話 (a non-fiction book transcribing some conversational lectures between Murakami Haruki and another translator on the subject of translation) was interesting and a change from the predominantly fiction I tend to read.

3) Books in Japanese you plan to read this year?

I managed to get to Japan and filled up my suitcase on the return trip with books, so my to-read pile is still pretty full:

I don't expect I'll manage to read all of those, but it would be nice to manage at least one book a month this year. This would be easy if I just consistently read at least something every day. A few years ago I used to read while eating lunch at work; maybe I should get back into that habit, it would be better for me than sitting at the computer browsing the web, which is what I do now...

4) Any New Year's Resolutions pertaining to reading (in any language) or language study (any language)?

My resolutions for this year are all not-language-related; I thought about adding a Japanese-related resolution to the mix but figured I was better off not trying to spread my willpower too thinly.

5) How will you encourage yourself to stay on track with these goals? (I need motivation here, so give me your tips!)

For my non-Japanese goals I'm trying the approach of having a regular once-a-week slot where I allocate time to thinking about whether I'm on track and what I can do over the next week or two to try to make sure I'm continuing to make progress.

6) Do you use spoken Japanese in your daily life? If so, how?

Nope; about all I do these days is read books and watch anime... I was able to get by pretty well in Japan on last year's holiday in "functional" conversations (things like 'check into hotel', 'buy train tickets', etc where you can think a bit in advance about what you want to say and be fairly sure what kind of things the other person will be saying), which I was pleased about, but my general conversational Japanese has atrophied terribly (and it was never great to start with).

7) How long have you been able to read Japanese enough to understand at least the gist of what you read? How has your reading speed improved the more you've done it? Any other benefits you've seen from reading in a second language?

I was reading manga back in 2004; the first bit of full-length fiction I read (a Banana Yoshimoto novel) was somewhere in mid-2006. The nine months I spent in Japan learning the language full time over 2004/2005 were what pulled me up from "beginner" to "advanced intermediate" and made me more comfortable with reading. I could probably have started on the books earlier than I did, but I don't think I felt confident that I'd be able to work through a full-length book fast enough not to get stuck halfway. I'm definitely faster at reading now, as well as more confident; my vocabulary is bigger too so some things that would have been way too hard to read five years ago are now straightforward. I also have to rely on the dictionary a lot less and could happily read a light novel without it at all.

8) What advice would you give someone trying to learn to read Japanese?

I wrote a fairly long essay on this about five years ago now; I still agree with pretty much everything I wrote back then...


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