Monthly review: April

I started writing a monthly review last month, and I find it very beneficial. This month, too, I will look into what I have done and not done.


I guess that we all experience ups and downs with our SRS, Anki or other… I have been experiencing a total breakdown during the whole month of April. I have been busy at the beginning of the month and spent some days without studying Anki, with the result that I found myself with a huge deck. What happens in this case, is that I stop learning new cards and try to bring my deck to zero during the following days.

After that, I was not in the mood to learn new words, and I had no fun at all studying my deck (not that it is very funny at all). I try to get Anki over with as quickly as I can, and I got into the bad habit to dismiss cards I don’t know with the “difficult” button even though I should have tagged them “again”. I know I should not do that but…

I have already given up one of my goals for 2018: reaching 10,000 words at the end of the year. However, I think that this is something I can achieve for 2019 and I am thinking of trying JLPT N1 next year in July or more likely in December. When my anti-Anki phase is over, I will maybe consider buying an N1 vocabulary textbook to start adding new words from now on. I want to avoid having a lot of words to learn in a few months like I did when I prepared N2. If I start now for next year, it would not be a problem.

English books

I finished reading The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, certainly the longest novel I ever read in English. To me, the narrative structure was the most interesting part of the book. I love novels that are about novels, but The Golden Notebook is about writing a novel in its own structure.  I mean, writing is a theme of the story, but it goes far beyond it. It is a real dissection of the relation narrator-character, of the difference between a first-person narrative and third-person one. This is, I think, the reason why I loved it so much.

Currently reading: The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters.

I bought this book some days ago when I had the occasion. I am working my way through English literature by simply following what I find on Google by searching for “contemporary British novels one must absolutely read” and similar things. Among the many titles I find, I go first for the ones I can buy here in Korea. This is how I found and bought The Paying Guests.

The funny thing is that I finally saw The Handmaiden by Park Chan-wook, and I didn’t like it at all. Despite the many praising reviews I read about the film, I still can’t understand why it had so much success. Anyway, there are things that I loved about the film and things I hated. But I didn’t know that it was adapted from one of Sarah Waters’ novels when I saw it. Now that I am reading The Paying Guests and learnt about the novel Fingersmith, I know what I liked and disliked in the film: I loved Sarah Waters’ novel that I haven’t even read, and I hated the gloss Park Chan-wook covered it with.

Anyway, I love the Paying Guests, I love Sarah Waters’ writing. I feel that the English language has incredibly many words, it seems that there is a precise word for everything and that Sarah Waters know them all! Reading her is good for my English.

Japanese newspapers

A question that accompanied me the whole month was: shall I try a paying subscription for either 朝日新聞 or 毎日新聞 to access paying articles?

The reason I would like to try a subscription is that I would like to read more opinion-like articles. I find that the articles I am currently reading do not convey any judgement, they simply report the facts. Even when they talk about political scandals, I don’t feel any criticism behind them.

I came to the conclusion that most of the articles available for free are there to inform and only report what happened and who said what. And maybe, to read articles that convey criticism, judgement, opinions and analysis, one has to read the paying articles. It would make sense, I think.

What prevented me from taking a paying subscription is the idea that these articles will be much more difficult to read and that I won’t be able to do much with them anyway. However, I could try just one month and see… Mainichi has a 1000 yen subscription plan which gives access to all the paying articles for one month. They even have a one-day subscription: 100 yen for 24 hours access. This is not bad when one wants to read a particular article.

I think that I will try a one-month subscription with Mainichi in May!


It is hard to look back at the month and judge whether it was satisfactory or not. I have the feeling that I didn’t do enough in April, that the weather was disappointing (either cloudy and cold or warm and dirty) and that I somehow missed the Spring impulse and energy I thought I would feel when the weather gets warmer. But it is a natural tendency of me to focus on the “not enough” part and ignore what I did achieve.

Even though I gave up on the 10,000 words goal and am struggling with Anki, I am satisfied with other things like reading the news in Japanese or finishing The Golden Notebook. More than everything, I am doing well with my 2018 reading challenge (a Japanese book per month), and this was my main goal for the year.

It was not a bad month after all!