nodame negi - ethvren

冷静と情熱のあいだ review!

冷静と情熱のあいだ(rosso) by 江國香織

It took me a long time to get into this book properly (the first few chapters are about how perfect the main character's boyfriend/life is, and I just found it very... boring? Who wants perfection?!), but once I did, I found it difficult to put it down. So I would say that if you're going to try it, you need to have a bit of persistence for the first bit!
I've now started reading the accompanying book, 冷静と情熱のあいだ(blu), which seems to be much more interesting from the start, so maybe if you want to read both of them then you should start with that one! I'm not sure which one you're supposed to start with, to be honest.

I also realised once I had finished it that I've already read another book by the same author,
きらきらひかる, which I also found weirdly addictive towards the end.

They're both a bit idealistic and definitely not written for men, I don't think, but not difficult to read, so I would reccommend them!
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Anime as crutch?

The reason I started reading novels and the way I become aware of a novel series is usually because I watched the anime and want to read the 原作. Thus, I go in with some general knowledge of the plot and characters.

Lately, I've been wondering if that is a crutch in that it provides additional context without which I wouldn't understand what's going on in the books. [Under the 多読 philosophy, it could be a good thing, I suppose, since it allows me to read at a slightly higher level than I otherwise would be capable of.] Of course, a lot of times the 原作 is very different from the adaptation -- which why I want to read it in the first place -- but a lot of times the broad brushstrokes of the plot are similar enough that I am never completely lost.

So... do you think this kind of crutch is a good thing? Do you feel less intimidated by a novel when you've already been exposed to it in a different format? (Or does already knowing the plot twists make it too boring a read?) Do you think such a practice encumbers one's ability to read completely new works in the long run?

The reason I've been thinking about this is that I just finished reading 銀盤カレイドスコープ vol. 6 (after I read 1 and 2 and skipped 3-5), and it was the first novel I had read whose plot was completely untethered to something I have previously watched as anime. And it was harder to figure out what was going on, but that might also be because the book is written as short episodes from the childhoods of two protagonists, alternating, and not in chronological order as far as I could tell. 9_9 I'm on on to the next volume now, which is written with more straightforward organization, but it's still too early to say whether I'm missing my crutch.
shinda ringo - zeenys

冷静と情熱のあいだ and 砂の女


At the moment I am reading 2 books, so I will introduce them both!

冷静と情熱のあいだ (rosso) by 江國香織

It's actually just one part of two books which were written about the same story, one from the boy's point of view and one from the girl's. This is the version written from the girl's perspective. I have had this book for a couple of years now, it was a present from one of my friends and to be honest, initially I didn't have that much interest in it, but it's quite easy to read, so is perfect for this kind of reading! I will review it or whatever when I have finished reading it!

I am also reading:

砂の女 by 安部 公房

This is a much more difficult book, and although I find the story really interesting, I have found that it is difficult to read without wanting to look words up in a dictionary, because the story is so interesting that I want to make sure that I understand everything! I would say that if you want to read it without a dictionary you should have a high level of Japanese. Unless you don't mind if you're not really following the story. Again, review to follow when I have finished! (I tend to read more than one thing a lot of the time, it means there's less chance you'll get bored!)

自己紹介 (because everyone else seems to have done one?)

I studied Japanese for 4 years at university, including a year abroad "studying" at 中央大学. I graduated last July and so have been learning Japanese for 4 and 1/2 years now. I would class myself as conversationally fluent, but my Japanese is far from perfect. Hopefully the fact that I should be moving to Japan in March will remedy this!

The 多読 thing is something which I have been doing for a while, although without knowing that it had a name or anything. I am not too strict on myself with the dictionary rule. I do read a lot without a dictionary, but then I will have times when every word I don't understand gets looked up. I'm not studying otherwise in any meaningful way at the moment, so if I don't do this then my vocabulary (which is definitely my weakest point!) will never incrase! I don't think there's anything wrong with looking stuff up, I do it sometimes when I am reading in English!

I was also thinking that this idea could just as easily be applied to watching any kind of Japanese media, whether it be films, tv dramas, anime, whatever. I have been doing that for over a year now, and I really noticed the difference in my understanding and my ability to produce Japanese when I went to Japan in September - I was able to tell my first original intelligent joke in Japanese! Before this point everyone had just moaned and complained that it was the kind of joke that a 7 year old would make, hehe.
raining totoro


This is what I'm currently reading:
Title: 世界史ミステリー事件お真実:歴史の闇に葬られた未解決事件を追う
Author: 瑞穂れい子
Just what the title says -- mystery stories coming from world history. There are 5 chapters with different themes (assassination, people disappearing, etc.) with about 10 stories in each chapter. The stories are self-contained and no more than 3-5 pages long, which makes it easy to read a whole story in one sitting.

I'll add a little bit of introduction, too. :) My name is Maggie, I'm 23, and I've studied Japanese for about 10 years, 7 of those in the classroom. I took JLPT1kyuu last month so I'm around that level.

Also wanted to let you guys know about this site:

It is the Gutenberg project of Japanese literature. There you can find a ton of reading material and read it straight from the web. I recommend 宮沢賢治, particularly 注文の多い料理店.

Happy reading!

Saiunkoku Monogatari, vol. 1

Title: はじまりの風は紅く (彩雲国物語 1)
Hajimari no Kaze ha Kurenaku (Saiunkoku Monogatari vol. 1)
The Wind of the Beginning is Scarlet (Tale of the Country of Many-Colored Clouds, vol. 1)

Author: 雪乃 紗衣 / YUKINO Sai

Reading level: Middle school; furigana included on more difficult words; a bit of specialized vocabulary including government and court terms, but this is not written for a particularly educated audience.

My rating: 3/5

Saiunkoku Monogatari has been adapted into a manga series and an anime series. It's a fantasy series set in an imaginary version of ancient China. Shuurei comes from a noble family that has fallen into poverty, in part because of her father taking a library job with a low salary. Shuurei agrees to take a position as the young emperor's consort to teach him to be a better ruler, and becomes involved with intrigue around the imperial palace.

It's an entertaining novel, but I found the writing kind of weak. (The characters are always knitting their eyebrows!) The author sometimes resorts to cheap tricks to build suspense. But the characters are interesting and likeable, and I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next.

What is tadoku?

Tadoku -- that's 多読 in Japanese -- means, quite simply, 'reading a lot.' It means, first and foremost, that you read at a level where you CAN read a lot. If you have to spend a lot of time looking up words, then you might just get through five pages a day. But if you're willing to skip over the words you don't know, and read at a fairly easy level, then maybe you can read 25 or 30 pages in a day.

The advantages of this are:
1) It's really painful to read at a slow pace. You work for an hour or two, and the story hasn't gotten anywhere yet, so it's boring.
2) Especially with idiomatic expressions and words that don't have an exact English equivalent, you'll understand the word better if you glance at it eight or nine times in different contexts than if you see it once and look it up and put it on a flash card.
3) You gain reading speed. Don't underestimate how valuable it is to be able to read hiragana and katakana quickly and fluently!
4) If you're reading something you like, something interesting and not too hard, just simply as 'reading' and not as 'language study,' it's more fun and easier to motivate yourself.
5) Research points to the effectiveness of tadoku. Will post more on this later.

The principles of tadoku are:
1) 辞書は引かない (引かなくてもわかる本を読む)
2) 分からないところは飛ばして前へ進む (わかっているところをつなげて読む)
3) つまらなくなったら止める (1 2 の原則で楽しく読めない本は読まない)

1) Don't look words up in a dictionary - read a book that you can read without looking words up. This doesn't mean you already know ALL the words, but you know enough that you can guess or skip over the rest.
2) Skip over what you don't know and continue forward. Read by putting together the parts that you DO understand.
3) If you get bored, stop. If you can't enjoy a book and follow principles 1 and 2, just don't read it.