Month: December 2018

A year of reading in Japanese

For my last Monday post of the year, I would like to look back on the books I have read this year in Japanese! My favourite books (story only) If I only take the story into account, without considering the language level, I would say that my favourite books this year are: 『豆の上で眠る』by Kanae MINATO. I read this book in January, and I think that it is my favourite. I was totally gripped by the story, it deeply resonated with me, and I was emotionally involved in it from start to finish. 『コンビニ人間』by Sayaka MURATA. I loved this book because I could learn a lot about Japanese society through it. But I also identified with the protagonist and I felt like the novel was touching some unpleasant moment of my own experience.   『赤い指』by Keigo HIGASHINO. To be honest with you, detective Kyoichiro KAGA is a hero to me. This novel is the 7th of the detective Kaga series. I loved this book for its story of course and because we learn a little more about …

Book Review: 『往復書簡』by Kanae MINATO

『往復書簡』(おうふくしょかん) is a collection of four epistolary short stories by Kanae MINATO (湊かなえ) published by 幻冬舎文庫 (げんとうしゃぶんこ). A journey to the past With the exception of the fourth story, which is very short and a little different than the others, the three main short stories all follow a similar pattern: several people who share a common past or have a connection with it will start exchanging letters. In each story, there is a particular event that lies in the past, altered by the years, the incomplete memories and the things unsaid. The protagonists will unveil this past mystery and search for the truth. I found this format very original and interesting. The stories show how a same event can be experienced and remembered completely differently by the person who where involved at the time. You cannot help but reflect about your own past. It is a little scary to think that your friends might have a completely different recollection or experience of some shared events. In the end, what really happened matters less than the …

Book review: 『手紙』by Keigo HIGASHINO

It took me a long time to read it, but I finally finished the novel 『手紙』by Keigo HIGASHINO (東野圭吾)! Reference: 『手紙』(てがみ), by 東野圭吾 (ひがしのけいご), published by 文春文庫 (ぶんしゅんぶんこ). The story 「差別はね、当然なんだよ」 p317 This novel is not a detective novel, the only murder occurs in the prologue and there won’t be any police investigation afterwards. 『手紙』is about the aftermaths of the murder, and the story is tell from the point of view of the murderer’s brother. Naoki is still in high-school when his older brother Tsuyoshi commits robbery and murder and is imprisoned. His first concern is money, for the two brothers have lost their parents, and Naoki is now alone to make his living. But in a society where discrimination is strong, Naoki will realise that his biggest problem is not the lack of money, but his connection to his brother. In this novel, Keigo HIGASHINO addresses the problem of discrimination and depicts the way the society turns its back on anyone that has a connection to murder.  My thoughts To be honest, I didn’t …

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 …

Book review: 『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』by En MIKAMI

(I don’t usually post book reviews on Friday, but I will certainly take some holidays at the end of the month, so if I want to publish all my book reviews before the end of the year, I will have to post twice a week!) I have finished 『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』by En MIKAMI (三上延) and I loved it! It is a light novel published by メディアワークス文庫 (Kadokawa) and as such, it is easy to read, even for Japanese learners. The Book and the Story 『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』is a novel, but it is divided into 4 chapters that each contains an independent story. I like this structure very much because the book, while being a novel, allows you to take a break between two chapters without feeling lost when you return to it. The story is simple enough: the young Daisuke meets the owner of a used bookstore, the beautiful and mysterious Shioriko. Together, they will solve mysteries brought by the clients of the bookstore. Hence the subtitle of the book: “栞子(Shioriko)さんと奇妙な客人たち”. To be honest, I was a little afraid …

Book Review: 『探偵倶楽部』by Keigo HIGASHINO

There are 5 short detective stories in 『探偵倶楽部』(The Membership Detective Club – たんていくらぶ) by Keigo HIGASHINO (東野圭吾) and I loved every single one of them! The stories all feature the Membership Detective Club, but the detectives are not the protagonists. The stories mainly focus on the people that are involved or find themselves involved in a murder case. The police is also playing a part in some of the stories, creating a tension between people trying to hide things, police officers who try to solve the case, and the detective agency working in the shadows. But what is really amazing in these stories is the the complexity of the case. You would think that a detective story of 50-60 pages can only have a straightforward plot because there is no room for plot twists, but Higashino is able to condense a very complex story in a few pages. I have been surprised in every single short story because the end turned out to be very different from what I expected. I always consider myself blessed …

My progress in 2018

We are in December, time to look back on the year and see what progress I have made! 2017’s hardcore study vs 2018’s relaxed tempo I feel that I haven’t worked as hard in 2018 that I did in 2017. When I say “work hard” I mainly mean learning tons of vocabulary and spend a lot of time in grammar books. In 2017, I took the JLPT N2 twice, in July and in December. It definitely helped me to make progress in Japanese. I worked with the Sou-matome series for the test of July and with the Shin Kanzen series for December. I have learned a lot of grammar, made a lot of exercises, and my Anki literally exploded with N2 words. While preparing for the JLPT helped me to improve my level, it was also a little too much in the end, and I wanted nothing more than to relax and take advantage of what I had learned to read novels in Japanese. Even though I had in mind to try N1 in December …