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Book Report

#1
Book club is dead, so let's try something else.

This is the Book Report - the goal is to 1) help other people find stuff to read, and 2) to give people some accountability and encouragement to keep reading. And just to talk about books and stuff.

The format:
To participate, you need to make at least three posts for each book.

The beginning
When you've just started. Tell us:
Title, author, and the blurb or link to information.
Why you chose to read it.
What your expectations are (difficulty, content, anything)
When you expect to finish it by.

The middle
How's it going? Is it all you'd hoped? Surprisingly easy? Difficult? Good? Bad?
What kind of vocabulary is it heavy on?

The end
How was it? Would you recommend it? Who to?


Of course, feel free to make additional posts as you go, but that's the minimum to participate. Please mark spoilers.


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So, going first.
I am just starting はんぴらり by 廣嶋玲子. Blurb from Amazon:
「武どの、はじめまして。鈴音丸ともうしまする。お会いできて、とてもうれしゅうございまする」…琴子ばあちゃんの家で出会ったちいさな男の子は、「はんぴらり」っていう半人前の神さまなんだって。今年の夏休みは、特別なことがおこりそうな予感!「はんぴらり」の修行がはじまるよ!シリーズ第一弾。小学校中・高学年向け。

I picked this up ages ago when I was going through the stage of buying everything that looked remotely readable. It doesn't look particularly interesting, but I just finished a fairly difficult book and need something easy without any political, medical, or whathaveyou vocabulary. If it turns out to be any good, the rest of the series might make a good circuit-breaker between more difficult books - slamming through multiple difficult books in a row too exhausting.

Plus, coincidentally, I read another book by the same author which was really good, so my expectations are higher than they might otherwise have been. Not expecting them to be very similar, but still - might be fun.
Should be finished in a couple of days, I imagine. Let's say 3-4
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#2
And although it's lonely double-posting in one's own thread, I'll say this is simply because no one else has started reading anything recently rather than a lack of interest in the concept itself.

So anyway, I am halfway through はんぴらり, which is no great feat because that means I'm at page 80 or so. It's an incredibly easy book - there are unknown words but absolutely nothing that I need to stop and ponder about. Not quite suitable as someone's first book in Japanese, but on the difficulty scale it's at 'relaxing'.
Unfortunately, it's not all that interesting. I mean, it's not bad for what it is, but it's not doing anything exciting either.

That the girl on the cover is actually a boy was pretty shocking though. Still can't quite accept it.

A selection of some of the more interesting words I didn't know so far: 雨乞い、作務衣、単刀直入、鼓、瑪瑙、煙管、烏帽子

Anyway, will polish this off quickly and move on to something a bit more stimulating in a day or two.
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#3
I started (last year, but only read a few pages) reading 竜が呼んだ娘 by 柏葉 幸子 synopsis on Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.jp/gp/product/4904826930):
谷の村で静かに暮らしていた十歳の少女ミアは、竜や魔女、竜騎兵のいる村で暮らすことになります。恐ろしい出来事に巻き込まれたミアを待ち受ける運命とは?

I chose it because it seemed interesting, yet easy (also because someone on here recommended it); after the first couple of pages, it seems that's the case.

No idea when I'll finish it, but it will be at least May before I'll have time to read it, even though it's so short. With my classes, I only have time for so much reading and Japanese study, so I'm focusing on JLPT prep (though, if all the N1 questions were as easy as that anime inspired listening question, I'd be pretty much set).
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JapanesePod101
#4
Good idea. I just started a new book today so I'll bite.

家族八景 by 筒井 康隆

This is part of a trilogy about a telepathic girl called 七瀬 (ななせ). I don't really know anything more about the plot than that (haven't read the blurb) but for some reason I've wanted to read the second book in the series, 七瀬ふたたび, since I first started learning Japanese. The second book seems to be quite popular with multiple drama adaptations and a cancelled manga version but I've heard it said that this 家族八景 should just be skipped...

Right now I've just read the first few paragraphs and it seems intriguing so far. Smile
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#5
Great idea for a thread Aikynaro, thank you.

I'm currently halfway through vol 2 of ゼロの使い魔 by ヤマグチノボル, having recently finished the first vol, though once again progress is slow because I still spend way too much time ploughing through Anki decks.

In parallel with reading the books I'm studying a pre-made Anki deck containing all the non-core2k words in the first 12 volumes of the series, which I find to be a very effective way to pick up the vocab, though unfortunately this deck seems to have been pulled from the shared decks list now.

The story is about 才人[さいと], a regular guy sucked into a parallel universe and bound to serve as a 'familiar' to ルイズ, a klutzy tsundere student witch, and getting mixed up in adventures and such.

Reading level is relatively easy, but at ~20k words I would find it fairly tough going in places without Rikai.

There is also an accompanying anime series, the first 6 eps of which cover the first volume with a few minor changes. It was immensely gratifying to see scenes depicted in the anime almost exactly how I imagined them based entirely on a comprehension of the Japanese. Felt like an arrival of sorts.
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#6
I finished はんぴらり.
It wasn't very good. Nothing really happened and the protagonist never really did anything. I guess it's meant to be all honobono and stuff, but to me it was just boring. So oh well.
It is really easy though, so if you're a beginner and for some reason have run out of all the other much better books you could be reading at this level, maybe it would be worth a try?

Selected new word list: 腹鼓、下剤、無粋、蓑

---

Anyway, new book time. 小惑星2162DSの謎 by 林譲治.
Blurb:
宇宙船トーチウッドの乗員は、家弓トワただひとり。他に人工知能の“アイリーン”と教育中の機械頭脳“ワトソン”だけを乗せて、小惑星帯のなかを航行中であった。人工知能は、人間と会話し、思考する。まだその域に達しない機械頭脳は、学習を積むことで人工知能へと高められるのだ。ところが、その機械頭脳“ワトソン”によって、小惑星2162DSの異変に気づかされたトワは、この小惑星の驚くべき事実をつぎつぎと発見する。しかし、そのトワを思いがけない危機が襲う!?

I've been putting this one off for a while because it looks like it might be difficult, but I think it's doable now. I have quite high expectations - I've read two other books in the 21世紀空想科学小説 series and they were both easy to read and quite good. Also, I've heard it labeled 'hard science fiction', which I've been craving recently after the high diet of fluffy fantasy that children's literature tends to serve up. We'll see if that actually is the case or not though - but from the first page it seems that the setting is the Kupier Belt, which is pretty cool.

I think I'll aim to finish it in within 10 days

--

@anotherjohn
Is is actually good? What I've heard about it makes it sound awfully generic.
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#7
Aikynaro Wrote:Is is actually good? What I've heard about it makes it sound awfully generic.
It's not terrible, but anything it might have done differently has been copied by everyone, since it was quite a successful IP.
It's entertaining if you like that kind of story, but it's not making it into any literature canon.
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#8
I'm now 2 chapters (about one fifth) of the way through 家族八景 and I feel I've seen enough to make a slightly more detailed post.

Nanase is a live in maid who can read minds which means she has a very clear view in to the lives of those she works for. As the title implies it seems to be a collection of short short stories with each one being about her time with a different family, but I'm a little disappointed that there doesn't seem be any sense of development in terms of significant events or character arcs. Rather than stories it might be better to describe each chapter as simply a portrayal of that particular family's version of family life. Nanase basically just arrives, spies and leaves.

I have to admit it's a little boring and I'm mainly propelled by my desire to read the next book (I can't skip straight to it) where I believe she meets other psykers and uncovers a shady organisation. It's reasonably pleasant to read but I can't help but think of two of my favourite books/series 死神の精度 and キノの旅 and wonder why not go read them. They're both similar in that they're about an outsider observing something they're not really part of, but what they're observing is so much more interesting.

As far as reading difficulty I'm finding this quite easy, with the only real hiccups coming from odd words that don't seem to exist in any dictionary, such as 身姿 (Edit: Wait is this just two separate words? It suddenly seems like it...). I don't whether this is an OCR fail or if the author likes to make up his own words but the meaning is always clear. Just how exactly should I pronounce them?

sholum Wrote:
Aikynaro Wrote:Is is actually good? What I've heard about it makes it sound awfully generic.
It's not terrible, but anything it might have done differently has been copied by everyone, since it was quite a successful IP.
It's entertaining if you like that kind of story, but it's not making it into any literature canon.
I didn't like it. I found the first book boring but readable but was really put off by the beginning of the second in which (SPOILER!!) the main character decides to try and rape the heroin in order to make her realise she loves him (Spoiler no more). I'm fine with inapropriate jokes, and though it did make me dislike said character it clearly was just a joke and wasn't such a horrible scene as that may make it sound, but it really kills my ability to see characters as people when they do things like that simply because the author thought it would be funny.
Edited: 2015-03-31, 12:53 am
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#9
sholum Wrote:
Aikynaro Wrote:Is is actually good? What I've heard about it makes it sound awfully generic.
It's not terrible, but anything it might have done differently has been copied by everyone, since it was quite a successful IP.
It's entertaining if you like that kind of story, but it's not making it into any literature canon.
If you're just starting out, it's valuable, much like マリア様がみてる or 僕は友達が少ない, in that it's one of those merciful novels that let you stop thinking about the language and start thinking about the story. For this I was and remain grateful!

Now, with that said... It's fluff, it's entertainment of the turn-off-your-brain-and-enjoy variety. For certain kinds of fluff, I'm certainly willing and able to do so. (I'm not sure why!) But with this, I find that the entertainment value plummets like an anvil if you accidentally happen to be thinking while reading the story. The thing's about a girl attending a magic school while being a terrible magician. And it could have easily made for an interesting story about teen angst, or perhaps personal growth, but all this potential disappears as quickly as we realize that, oh no, this is yet another teen male power fantasy! The protagonist, our normal normal teenage boy, is summoned into this magic land as a familiar and is so, ehem, familiar, that you'd swear you've seen him starring in countless other novels. Must be nice to be so in demand! I've read the first three volumes (don't judge me, I was learning!) and the most interesting thing in this whole wide magical world, the author makes abundantly clear, is this normal and thus super relatable teenage boy! And then, when you're hooked by his relatability, the power fantasy kicks in, as we learn that, because of specific but unspecified "reasons," our boy is a magnet for women and magically powerful to boot! Awesome! Are you self-inserted yet? If you're not, then it might have something to do with you not being (a) normal, (b) teenage, or © male. (Unless, God forbid, you switched on your critical thinking! We talked about this!) That's probably why I now look back at this series with a bitter-sweet mix of gratitude and contempt. Maybe I should've gone with Twilight in Japanese? As Sholum said, if you like this genre and particular execution (we won't tell!), there's much better fluff out there!
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#10
Well, thank you everyone for convincing me to give that one the skip.

I'm halfway through 小惑星2162DSの謎 and whoa. So yeah, this is actually, very much, hard science fiction. It's about the discovery of organisms on a small asteroid in the Kuiper Belt and focuses on the scientific investigation of it.
It is also really hard. It doesn't lay off on the scientific terminology at all, and most of the conversations the characters have are theorising about the situation or devising solutions to technical problems. I am keeping up through a good deal of guesswork, though I think I've managed to follow the story well enough.

I especially like the take on AI in this book - recently I feel like all I've heard about AI is how terrible it's going to be when they take over the world. Here they're a positive thing, but in a down-to-earth way.

Even though I'm only halfway: if you like science fiction and think you can hack it, I recommend it highly.

Selected wordlist: 偏見、先入観、素子、生産性、炭素繊維、塵埃、公転周期、順惑星、掘削、発泡スチロール、軽石、地磁気、摩擦、核融合、推進、遮蔽、土嚢、臓器、鞭毛、蛋白質、有機物、短観水素、地層、黄道面、生態系、硫酸塩、赤道、荒唐無稽、発酵、紫外線、防疫、多様性、捕食者、節足動物、毛細管現象
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#11
Finished 小惑星2162DSの謎. Exhausting. Glad I read it but glad it's over too.

If you are interested in science fiction that focuses on squarely on science, research, and technology and all the technical details involved in that - this is for you. Almost everything that happens here is a problem looking for a technical solution, which is explored in great depth. It is rock-solid hard science fiction and I'm really surprised they decided it was a good idea to market this at children because there's very few concessions given to them in the content of the story.

I really like the 21世紀空想科学小説 series in general. Normally when I read science fiction it's stuff written in the 70s or 80s - but this was published two years ago and it feels relevant, especially with the Philae landing last year and the Dawn/New Horizons missions this year. The others I read also include stuff that extrapolates from the present. I'll probably go through a few more of this series, though some of the other books look more like fantasy than science fiction.

wordlist: 誤差、周期的、羅列、恒星、原子核、離心率、概算、塗装、耐久性、爆縮、膠着、無尽蔵、輻射、席巻、元素、核融合炉、接着剤、節約、繊維、間欠泉、挙動、主導権、なめくじ、線虫、棘皮動物、粘菌、脚部、濾す、矛盾、縦坑

Don't know about you, but I don't know what a 'nematode' or 'echinoderm' are in English. Did I miss something in biology class? Is the Japanese education system far more hardcore than I had thought? Or do these words actually have no job being thrown into a children's science fiction book with no explanation whatsoever?


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And, just starting: 選ばなかった冒険 by 岡田 淳.
Blurb:
学とあかりは、保健室にいく途中学校の階段からテレビゲーム「光の石の伝説」の世界にはいりこんでしまう。そこは闇の王の支配する世界。すでに何人もの学校の子どもたちがまきこまれ闇の王の世界で敵味方にわかれて闘いながら学校ではふつうの生活を送るという二重生活を強られていた…。小学上級以上。

I read 二分間の冒険 by the same author early last year. It was way too hard for me then but I powered through it because it was really interesting. I think I've improved enough that this won't be particularly difficult, but there's the chance it will be. Of the books on my to-read shelf that I have any interest in reading, it looks like one of the easiest though and I thought it might be good to head in the opposite direction of what I just finished.

It's pretty long. I'll say finished in two weeks, though I would like to and probably can do better than that, I probably won't.
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#12
I'm over half way through 家族八景 now and have finally realised that Nanase is a sociopath! All the things that were annoying me about this book suddenly make sense. We'll have to see how that affects my enjoyment.

P.s. I was wrong when I said that the stories didn't have traditional plot development, but it still feels very unfocused to me.
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#13
Halfway through 選ばなかった冒険.
This is an extremely easy book to read. There's almost no specialist vocabulary except for a few things regarding hand-to-hand combat and guns, and that's fairly easy to work out/pick up.

I'm really enjoying it. It has an interesting theme about violence going and I'm interested to see how it's going to get resolved when shit hits the fan. Getting the feeling it's not going to be a perfectly happy ending.
I like the writing style of this author - he treats the subject matter with seriousness and his audience with respect. Even though it's a clearly fantastic setting it's very down-to-earth about it. It's very similar in tone to the other book of his that I read.

So yeah, it's cool and progress is fast. An hour of reading this goes a lot further than an hour of reading the last book I read.
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#14
Finished 選ばなかった冒険.
I liked it a lot overall. It's a children's book but the author doesn't shy away from depicting the nasty bits of what living in a video game-esque world would be like. The ending felt a little bit too 'neat' though.
Major ending spoilers:
I understand that the protagonists don't want to kill anyone, but it's fairly convenient that they can shoot just at legs and arms now when their aim has been established as being fairly bad. That the Igar can put people to sleep is well established, but it feels a bit like Akari was able to dodge the question of whether killing is justified or not which had been a big thing.
But then, I guess she did stab the BBEG in the stomach with a knife, so I'm probably quibbling about nothing. Did I mention that this is quite a violent book?
I'm a fan of how the author doesn't explain shit. Leaves a sense of mystery to it - everything was resolved quite nicely but we still have no idea who the king was or why any of that happened at all, and that's fine.


So yeah, it was cool, unconventional children's fantasy. If that sounds like a good idea to anyone, I recommend it.


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I've just started 人類のあけぼの号 by 内田 庶. It's 1960s juvenile science fiction. From what I've read so far it seems very easy - almost no words that I don't know.
It's obscure enough that there's no blurb on Amazon, but from what I can gather from the first 12 pages or so, it's about a guy who died in a freezer who is revived an alarmingly long time later when technology has greatly advanced and the world completely changed. I read a book with a similar premise recently, but this looks a bit more optimistic than that one, and less long-winded.
How long it takes depends on how many trains I catch over the next week or two. Currently travelling around, so hopefully there'll be plenty of reading time. If it's all this easy, it shouldn't take very long at all
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#15
Just finished 家族八景

I have to say I didn't enjoy it and now I'm having doubts about moving on to the next book. I was forewarned, and there were sections I enjoyed, but most of my problems come from the fact that this book just doesn't seem well written, so even if the story is much more interesting in the sequel I'm still not expecting to enjoy it all that much.

My main problem was that despite the heavy focus on characters, none of them really felt properly fleshed out or even distinct from each other. Every family seemed like the same collection of unpleasantness with a few distinguishing characteristics slapped on. I expected the mind reading to be used to explore characters more deeply or to allow Nanase (the mind reading POV character) to manipulate the situation in interesting ways, but for the most part it just served to explain how Nanase knew what everyone was doing. Don't be surprised if the husband spends all his time thinking about work and/or an extra marital affair while the wife spends all her time thinking about house work and/or an extra marital affair. Little of what was revealed couldn't have been shown through the dialogue or actions of the characters, and in fact a lot of it was. What was heard telepathically regularly amounted to nothing more than a less polite rephrasing of what had just been said out loud.

Nanase's character was also a big problem, partly because she's as uninteresting as everyone else. I expected her to reveal herself via reactions to what she see's, but except when directly affected she seems to have no reaction at all. If she does offer some narration it's simply to inform the reader whether a certain way of thinking is rare or common. She's also very passive and that seems to be a symptom of the... old fashioned way in which the book portrays men and women. I can't help but view her as someone's notion of what it's like to be "just" a teenage girl.

The other problem with Nanase is that her character is not consistent. There is some character development throughout the stories (which take place in chronological order), but some of the changes do not mesh. The most egregious of these is something I can't go without mentioning, but that requires me to reveal one of the three biggest spoilers I can think of, so you probably shouldn't read it. Suffice it to say there are times when she seems to only care about herself no matter what happens to anyone else, and times when she seems to care quite a lot about others.



MASSIVE SPOILERS!!

At one point in the book Nanase worries that one of the men she works for might eventually work out that she has psychic powers, so she responds by inciting his wife to murder him, herself and their infant child. There's no indication that she feels anything at all about this other than relief at solving her problem, and it's what prompted my previous post in which I said she was a sociopath. This is in line with the detatched way she views events and the way she acts throughout much of the book, showing no inclination to help ease anyone's suffering, and as I said before, passing no judgement on those who cause it. But there are other instances in which she has to cause harm, or allow harm to come to someone, in order to protect herself, and she becomes very upset due to feelings of guilt. and in general she seems to grow increasingly more compassionate towards the end of the book.
MASSIVE SPOILERS!!

I'm still going to read the sequel, since I've wanted to for so long and it was the whole reason I persevered through this, but I think I need a palate cleanser in between. Perhaps the Full Metal Panic books, since they're the source material of a frustratingly cancelled anime I liked as a teenager.
Edited: 2015-05-03, 10:24 am
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#16
Sorry for the double post but I wanted to ask: 家族八景 received a very positive reception on amazon.co.jp and I'm wondering whether that's because it's actually popular, or if it's part of the same culture I see on bookmeter.com where if people don't have anything nice to say they don't say anything at all. Anyone have any idea? Have you noticed this kind of pattern?
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#17
Edit: Sorry should have included the books proper title.

フルメタル・パニック!
戦うボーイ・ミーツ・ガール By 賀東招二



First impression of Full Metal Panic is that it's quite easy with short sentences and plentiful furigana, even for very common words like 当然, 迷惑 and 周囲. I'd say it's noticeably easier than 家族八景 but the subject matter suggests there are going to be a lot of words like 発煙弾 (はつえんだん - Smoke grenade) that won't appear in a core vocabulary list.

Edit2: It seems my first impressions were a bit skewed wrt furigana. It's not provided when words are repeated so after the opening section there is a lot less. They're still pretty generous with it though.
Edited: 2015-05-04, 4:53 am
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#18
Breaking my own rules, but hey:

Finished 人類のあけぼの号. It was bad.

The first bit seemed like an interesting science fiction setup - exploring the consequences of automation on society via a utopian future with a dodgy protagonist from the current era.
But that's not what it did at all. Instead it was a lame mystery story where the conclusion was immediately obvious to anyone. It didn't have much to say about the future except 'robots are gonna be awesome', but it never really dug deeply in that. Rehashed Asimov's laws of robotics without much thought. A lot of the story was given by people talking to each other with no one really doing anything. Boring.

And time travel? Seriously? Laziest plot device ever and the implications of it are handwaved away. Was so disappointing when the criminal protagonist turned out to be a boy genius framed for the crime.

Anyway, if you want some much better done utopian science fiction, go for 空中都市008, not this.

On the bright side - it was trivially easy to read. I could read tens of pages without running into unknown words or anything that would impede understanding.

--

Have just started マジックアウト by 佐藤 まどか.
Blurb:
未曾有の危機に瀕し、絶望におちいった国。救うのは、天賦の「才」か、積み上げた「知」か?すべてを失ったそのとき、新しい何かがはじまった。真の天命とは何か?エテルリア国存亡の危機を救うため、定められた道を変えていく少女の永きたたかいが、今、幕を開ける。本格長編ファンタジー。

So, YA fantasy, going with the everyone-is-magical-but-me trope that Japan seems to like so much. Not sure about the setting yet, but the writing style is very modern - referencing plasma on the sun and sofas like it's nothing. Doesn't really seem like modern-day fantasy setting, so feels a bit jarring - but we'll see how the setting turns out. Might be interesting.

Anyway, just hoping for a bit of light escapist fantasy. Not expecting too much. Should be able to finish it within two weeks - hopefully less. Would like to put in more time back into reading than I have been lately.

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@Splatted
I'm not sure, but I suspect you're right about people avoiding writing negative reviews. Certainly on bookmeter everyone is very wishy-washy about their negative opinions, and the one-star option doesn't seem to get as much use as I'd expect from Amazon. It's probably legitimately popular, but the people who don't like it just don't post.
You should go be the first to give it a one star review :p
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#19
It's tempting but I don't think I quite hate it that much. I tend to reserve 1 star reviews for a special kind of hate. Tongue

I recently found out it got it's own drama adaption as well last year so I guess it has garnered some respect.
Edited: 2015-05-11, 1:50 pm
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#20
Thanks for the review of 家族八景 - You have convinced me now to not go back and finish it (which I was vague contemplating), so you have saved me some time there.

I liked 七瀬ふたたび a lot, so give it a try at least. I can't vouch for whether it is "well written" or not, my Japanese sense of aesthetic is not sufficiently well developed. I'm trying to remember if Nanase acted like a sociopath or not.... if she did, it was not to the extent that it spoiled my enjoyment. I wasn't looking out for it though, so you might notice something I didn't.

Another good thing about 七瀬ふたたび is that it is pretty famous and most Japanese people will have heard of it (and many will have read it), so you can have some nice conversations with people if you mention you are reading it. Same goes for 容疑者Xの献身 which I also read recently. A lot of the other books I have read, I just get a blank look when I mention the name, which can be a bit discouraging.
Edited: 2015-05-15, 2:03 am
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#21
フルメタル・パニック!
戦うボーイ・ミーツ・ガール By 賀東招二 1/5th complete

This is actually a lot harder than it initially appeared. A lot of it's written from the perspective of military personnel and these sections can represent significant spikes in difficulty due to less colloquial phrasing and vocabulary choices. I suspect that the focus may shift away from this to a certain extent as the story progresses, but that's just a guess. Right now I wouldn't recommend this to beginners unless they're happy to push outside their comfort zone.

@NickT: Thanks, I'm feeling more optimistic about it now that I've gained a little distance from the first book.

NickT Wrote:I can't vouch for whether it is "well written" or not, my Japanese sense of aesthetic is not sufficiently well developed.
I almost immediately started to develop preferences regarding the books I was reading and don't really see it as having anything to do with a developed sense of aesthetic. Different writing styles inevitably engender different experiences and things like characterisation and plot can often be largely independent of language.
Edited: 2015-05-12, 6:13 pm
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#22
Halfway through マジックアウト and I'm enjoying it greatly. The writing style is something I haven't encountered for quite a while - very 'active' and flowing. I've been on a streak of more ponderous books and this is a good change of pace.
The first 80 pages or so just set up the setting and the characters - there's a bit of infodumping but it's skillfully done - not just people vomiting information you actually don't care about very much (looking at you, last crappy book that I read), but manages to weave it into the story. After that it changes gears dramatically. Not sure how it will go from here but looking forward to finding out.

One thing that I'm particularly liking - it's fantasy, not not one of those fantasy stories that's just a story in another world. It's properly speculative, with a 'what if?' question that forms the premise. From what I gather: What if a society built around the presence of magic suddenly lost access to magic?. It's interesting in the same way good science fiction is interesting (and it is largely concerned with technology in any case).

Selected word list: 散弾銃, 褐色, 命日, 敬う, 由緒, 侮蔑, 不可視, 蔓延, 追従, 書籍, 蔵書, 痩身, 萎縮, 蔑視, 就任, 燕尾服, 淑女, 地方行政, 改革, 階級制度, 天井桟敷, 聴衆, 敬遠, 自尊心, 老衰, 庶民, 貯蔵物, 交通機関, 放心状態, 未遂, 窒息死, 欠陥, 野次

There's lots of social class related stuff going on that I haven't encountered before - the setting has a rigid class structure going on.

I like this one: 敬遠 - Pretending to respect someone while in fact staying distant from him.
Good thing to have a single word for!

So anyway, so far so good. Something really bad would have to happen for me to not pick up the other books in the series.
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#23
Full Metal Panic wasn't the easy read I'd hoped it would be so I've started another book. I always have multiple books on the go so that's not something that anyone should read too much in to.

The new book is ダンジョンに出会いを求めるのは間違っているだろうか (略 ダンマチ) Amazon

I listened to the そこあに podcast about it and they talked about how a lot of was in the books didn't make it in to the anime so I thought I'd give the source material a try.

From the anime it's part of the new fad which I don't really like of writing fantasy stories with computer RPG systems but if it's a good story I can overlook that. I've even seen it become a strength in the case of Log Horizon. Danmachi is a romantic (harem?) comedy about a world in which gods (so far all female) have descended to earth to experience human lifestyles. Many of them form guilds and bestow powers upon adventurers they take a liking to. The main character is the first and only follower of the Goddess Hestia.
Edited: 2015-05-18, 12:14 pm
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#24
Military stories are always crazy-hard though. So many words that aren't useful unless you need to efficiently organise a lot of people to murder a whole lot of other people.


Anyway, I finished マジックアウト. I liked it, but I feel it didn't go nearly far enough. Like the author decided halfway through that enough bad things had happened that everything could be smooth sailing from there. It missed a lot of the interesting things that could and should have been explored with that setup. A lot of things were just handwaved away.

For instance, it was well established that the country had almost no food reserves, that fishing was very difficult, and that crops had been destroyed by flooding and raided by thieves. Given that the breakdown of society was a big theme in the book, why didn't any of this come up as a major plot point? Starvation, food riots, theft that comes near the protagonists. But somehow it was all handwaved away with 'and then we built greenhouses and taught the farmers a bit about horticulture and it was all okay' - I mean, sure, eventually, fine - but these things don't grow overnight...

But overall it was good. Very nice to have problems solved with science and technology in a fantasy novel. Quite well developed characters too. It just felt a bit weak and soft after a fairly hard-hitting middle section.
I plan on reading the other two books in the series.

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Just started 雨やどりはすべり台の下で by 岡田 淳. This is the third book of his that I've read.
Blurb:
一郎たちとおなじアパートに住む雨森さん。いつも無口で、人づきあいもまるでなし。でも、雨森さんってほんとうは魔法つかいなのかもしれない。だって、ふしぎな話がどんどん出てくるんです。サンケイ児童出版文化賞受賞。

Not sure where this one is going plotwise. The other two books were pretty weird and ... mm - intricate(?), so I have high expectations. I think it might be a series of connected short stories, which isn't my favorite format, but will give the benefit of the doubt.

It's pretty short. I expect to finish in less that a week.
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#25
Finished 雨やどりはすべり台の下で.
It was enjoyable enough. I think it was written with younger kids in mind - at least moreso than the other books that I've read from the same author. Or maybe the subject matter is just less focused around issues of life-and-death. This sort of whimsical fantasy is nice too though.
It was incredibly easy. I think it would be quite doable even at a very low reading level.

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I'm starting 雨ふる本屋 by 日向理恵子. Or restarting, rather - I attempted it quite a long time ago and found it too difficult. Now it's trivially easy, so obviously something is going right. Seems like quite a popular book - I often see it pop up on people's read books lists.

The blurb is pretty vague, so as I understand it, it's about a girl that hates books who wanders lost to an interdimensional bookshop run by a giant bird where it always rains inside, and starts working there. It's pretty easy, so if things like 'responsibilities' aren't dragging me down too much, should easily be able to finish it this week. And when have I not ignored my responsibilities?
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