June wrap-up and reading challenge update!

I haven’t read that much in June compared to the previous months, but I still managed to complete my June challenge of 4 books. I read two books of the Galileo series, one children’s book with furigana and one novelisation.


Galileo series 2 and 3: 『予知夢』 and 『容疑者Xの献身』 by Keigo Higashino (東野圭吾)

I found both books extremely addictive. Contrary to the first book of the series, there were almost no scientific parts in 『予知夢』 and none in 『容疑者Xの献身』, which made the books easier to read and also more interesting to me.

『容疑者Xの献身』 is the first book of contemporary crime fiction that I re-read. I enjoyed it more in Japanese than when I first read it in translation because I knew the characters better: I have already read not only two books, but 10 short stories with Kusanagi and Yukawa. Unfortunately, the first two books of the series are not translated into French (nor English), so readers who read The Devotion of Suspect X meet Kusanagi and Yukawa for the first time.

I will go on with the Galileo series, I already bought the fourth one. Catching up with the series could be a new challenge for 2020!

『日本沈没2020』 by Toshio Yoshitaka (吉高寿男)

This is the novelisation of the anime coming on Netflix on July 9th.

To be honest, part of the reason I bought this book was because I thought it would be easy to read, but it turned out that this book is the most difficult of the four I read this month.

I have read only one novelisation in Japanese before that, and I did not like it. It was the novelisation of the film 『未来のミライ』. To me, all the visual and magical effects of the film being lost, the book was mostly a succession of descriptions that were not easy to read and a little boring.

『日本沈没2020』 is much better to me than 『未来のミライ』, but I do have to come down to the conclusion that I dislike novelisations.

Given that the anime has not been released yet, I cannot say for sure, but I think that this book of 284 pages covers the whole season. As a result, things go on fast with awkward transitions and little time to digest what has just happened. It is also hard to get to know and appreciate new characters.

I don’t know exactly how novelisations work, but it looks like the author just watched the anime and wrote down what was on the screen and was not allowed to add elements that were not explicitly said or showed in the film.

With the constraint of compacting a whole season in less than 300 pages and the impossibility to add things that were not on screen (introspection, inner thoughts, memories… anything that could make the reader feel closer to the characters), the novelisation ends up being a format that I find a little awkward. The lack of introspection particularly bothers me.

As for the Japanese level, it is not as easy as I thought it would be, but I think that part of the difficulty I experience comes from the compactness of the book. I really find that some scenes are described too briefly. I also find that it gets worse towards the end of the book, there are some scenes that I could not visualise well, but I don’t know if it comes from my Japanese level only, or if they were not described in enough details.

This being said, this book could be a good study material if you are watching the anime on Netflix and want to practice reading in Japanese. I would not recommend it as a novel for beginners, but definitely could be interesting to read in parallel with the series.

『おれがあいつであいつがおれで』by Hisashi Yamanaka (山中恒)

When I saw the cover and title of this book, I really thought it was inspired by the film 君の名は. But on closer look, I realised that Hisashi Yamanaka wrote this book in 1979! It is now published by Kadokawa and while I bought the Tsubasa version to read with furigana, you can also buy the standard bunko version too (which is better if you want to look smart in the metro). The text is the same in both editions, but you will not have the furigana in the bunko version. This being said, there are only very few kanji words in this book and most of them are easy ones. You can read the first pages of the book on both links.

This book is extremely funny, and I kept smiling while reading it. If you liked the part of 『君の名は』were both characters have to adjust to their new life and kept making mistakes, you will certainly enjoy this book too, because it is just that. The parts on the language (talking like a girl vs a boy) are particularly funny and interesting for Japanese learners.

I really recommend 『おれがあいつであいつがおれで』to Japanese learners looking for an easy read. If you struggle with kanji when reading books, you will find that this book only has very few kanji and most of them are very common words that you want to learn anyway. If you buy the version with furigana, this will make looking up words easier.

Currently reading

There is only one book that I started in June and did not finish:

『架空OL日記1』 by Bakarythm

Bakarythm is the stage name of the comedian Hidetomo Masuno. This book is the fake diary of an OL that was published on a dedicated blog, which you can read directly. I bought the book because I prefer to read on paper.

I haven’t watched the film, and I don’t think that I will read the second volume either, but I still kind of enjoy reading the blog entries.

It is a nice read if you are looking for something short to read while commuting for example. Each blog entry is usually just about a page long, so you can easily insert some Japanese reading in your daily routine.

I don’t find it particularly difficult to read, but there are some words, expressions or references here and there that I don’t understand. However, I don’t like this book enough to want to dedicate too much time to it, so when I don’t understand something, I just go on reading.

Reading challenge update!

It’s time for a half-year check of my reading challenge for 2020. Instead of setting a quantitative goal of books to read this year, I had designed several small challenges to encourage me to read wider and go out of my comfort zone. Let’s see how far I got in each section…

Read more nonfiction

My first challenge is to read 5 books of nonfiction this year. I have only read two books out of 5 so far:

I loved both books, and I think that I would have read them both even without my reading challenge in mind.

I also read two nonfiction books for young readers, they belong to the collection Chikuma Primer Shinsho. I have decided to not include them in my challenge though, to encourage me to read three more nonfiction books this year. Reading nonfiction was also (supposed to be) a way for me to tackle challenging books. However, the two books that I have read were not particularly challenging in terms of Japanese level and vocabulary.

I did buy a book on death penalty, but I haven’t started it yet… Let’s make it my reading challenge for July!

Catch up with the Kaga series

My goal for 2020 is to read the two remaining titles of the Kaga series, but not only have I made no progress at all in this direction, I have also started the Galileo series instead…

Read winners of literary awards

I still haven’t found the courage to tackle a literary prize winner… I already decided on one title though, it will be 『蛍川・泥の河』 by Teru Miyamoto. Let’s add this to my July challenge!

Open up to new genres.

I have already completed this challenge, and I could even add more books to this list.

I am already satisfied with how wider I have read during these past 6 months. Compared to the years when I mainly read crime fiction, I will certainly end up with more books that I disliked in 2020. I guess that this is inevitable when you try to read things that you don’t usually read. From this list there are two books that I loved, one book that I liked, one that I did not like, and one that I disliked a lot.

Read Haruki Murakami in Japanese

Also completed! Even though I did not really enjoy reading 『ノルウェイの森』, I am very glad to finally have read Murakami in Japanese. I was also shocked by how easy this book was to read in Japanese.

Reading challenge for July:

So this is what I will be mainly reading in July, though I’m sure I will add one or two other books later!