2019: More Books! JLPT N1?

It is time to plan my studies for next year! (I know it’s a little early, but I cannot wait!)

More easy books, more difficult books.

I have greatly enjoyed 2018: finally, I was able to read a wider range of novels, mysteries and detective stories. 

I could go on like that in 2019, but being able to read best-selling authors like Keigo HIGASHINO does not mean that I can read any literature in Japanese. There are so many books that are still out of reach, fiction as well as non fiction. 

To progress, I will have to go out of my comfort zone and tackle books that are above my level. I think that reading books I can tackle easily helps me to progress, but only a little. I feel more and more at ease with Japanese sentences, I can read faster and faster and I learn some new vocabulary… But to really make significant progress, I know that I have to read a book that is a little too difficult to me and make the necessary effort to understand it. 

But I still want to have fun and continue reading mystery and detective books that will not make me struggle too much.

In 2019, I think that I will try to widen even more the range of books I read:

  • Light Novels: I want to read more light novels because they are a good way to chill out and have fun reading in Japanese
  • Best-selling mystery/detective novels: I will go on reading authors like Keigo HIGASHINO or Kanae MINATO. I like mystery and detective novels, and I know I can read them without much struggle.
  • Prize winners: I want to get more familiar with contemporary Japanese literature and looking at the winners of the Akutagawa Prize can be a good start (this will be a little challenging)
  • Great authors of the 20th Century: I will pick one or two books I want to read before the end of 2019. They will serve as some kind of ultimate goal for the year.


I am very tempted by the JLPT N1. My last test was in 2017 and I have done nothing relative to the test in 2018. I like taking the test, I like to prepare for it, and I must admit that I miss the guided path of a textbook, the idea of studying with a deadline, and the feeling that I belong to the community of test takers.

But N1 is a little intimidating, I remember that making my way through the Shin Kanzen series for N2 was not always fun, and that my Anki had become a dreadful thing after all that.

On the other hand, if I decide to take the test, it will be for December. It gives me ample time to prepare slowly, gives me a goal for the year, and of course, it will help me to progress in reading and ultimately, it will maybe allow me to read these challenging books I have in mind.

Let’s draw the pros and cons:

It will take me a lot of time, this certainly means less time to read books.
Of course, I will make progress!
It won’t be fun all the time, especially going through the Shin Kanzen series for N1… It will go together with my reading goals for 2019, I am sure that the JLPT N1 will help me read challenging books.
It will spoil my Anki deck. I added so many words when I was studying N2 that studying Anki had become a nightmare.Maybe I can use paper and pen to learn N1 vocabulary and kani and only add to Anki some carefully selected words.
It is the perfect excuse to buy tons of textbooks, and I will also have to choose a dedicated notebook!
I was looking for ways to use my fountain pens more, studying for the JLPT seems a perfect way to do it.
I always complain about my listening level. If I want to pass N1, I will have no choice but to practice listening seriously!
The test being in December, it gives me a nice straightforward goal for the whole year.
Taking the test is ultra motivating, in fact, the more I think about taking N1 in 2019, the more excited I feel!

I am sure I could add more points in the “pros” column. So, it settles it I think! I will take the JLPT N1 in 2019! My aim is to pass in December, but I will certainly take the test in July too, as a warm-up.

My Blog

I want to change a little the format of my blog in 2019. Until now, I was writing 3 times a week, following the pattern:

  • Monday: About studying Japanese
  • Wednesday: About Japanese books
  • Friday: About non-bookish Japanese things (news, films, music)

I think that I will only write twice a week next year:

  • Day 1: Some kind of “study journal” where I write about what I am doing for Japanese, the books I am reading at the moment, my reading progress, the books/film/drama I have heard about and want to read/watch, and so on
  • Day 2: The reviews. Mainly book review of course, but also non bookish things (as I will not be able to read one Japanese book pro week).

But now that I want to take the JLPT, I think that I could add a “JLPT journal” section and post once a week in this category, to stay motivated. 

I still have to think about it, and I will take some blog holiday at the end of the month (from the 20th)!

What are your plans for 2019? 🙂