All posts filed under: currently reading

Currently reading: 『探偵倶楽部』by Keigo HIGASHINO

I still have three books to read this year to complete my 2018 reading challenge and 『探偵倶楽部』(たんていくらぶ) is one of them. It is a collection of five short stories, featuring the mysterious “Membership Detective Club”. I already read the first two short stories and I plan to read the third one in November. The membership detective club is a detective agency composed of only two persons: an unnamed detective and his assistant. They work for wealthy and selected persons. The interesting feature of this book is that little is known about this detective, not even his name (as far as the first two short stories are concerned.) The stories seem to focus more on the staging of the murder and the events afterwards. As a reader, we follow the characters involved in it, but at the same time, we never quite know who did it, which makes things very exciting. I read the first short story at the very beginning of the year, but I found it rather difficult at the time. The writing was …

Currently Reading: 『手紙』by Keigo HIGASHINO

I will stick to my resolution to always be reading a book by Keigo HIGASHINO. I found that reading several books at the same time in Japanese is the best way to avoid loss of interest or discouragement. 『手紙』, 東野圭吾, 文春文庫I am so sure that I will love any book by Higashino that I just pick them randomly and never read the summary on the back cover. But I am surprised by『手紙』. It is hard to tell where the story will lead us, and I suspect the book to be more a social portrait than a crime novel. I already noticed that Higashino gives a social dimension to some of his books, and I would not be surprised if 『手紙』fell in this category. The book is divided into 6 chapters, and I have only read the first one. To me, this book is like a focus on what is usually dismissed in crime stories: the daily life and hardship of the persons involved. Usually, a novel would concentrate on the plot, the investigation, and while …

Currently reading: 『こころ』by 夏目漱石

I have always considered that reading Soseki in Japanese would be one of the greatest achievement of this whole Japanese journey. Since I heard from a Japanese that reading Soseki was hard for Japanese too, I thought I would keep it for “when I am fluent” or something like that. What made me buy 『こころ』the other day was this particular cover that I found very beautiful. Somehow, it is gratifying to buy one of the masterpieces of world literature with a cover that has an attractive pattern for only 360 yen. I started it, thinking I would give up soon, but it was unexpectedly accessible. I think that the real challenge lies in vocabulary but after some work on it, there remains no real difficulty. Soseki uses relatively plain and simple sentences. Looking up words is enough to understand most of the sentences and it happens very seldom that I should still be puzzled by the meaning of a paragraph after having cleared my way with the dictionary. Looking up words requires a little devotion, …

Currently reading: 『日本語びいき』by 清水由美

Once again, I find myself reading several books at the same time! I could not resist this book’s title and cover: 『日本語びいき』 is written by a Japanese teacher who teaches Japanese to foreigners. From what she writes in her forewords, I guess that there was/is a lack of understanding of what a Japanese teacher is and what skills it requires. People tend to think that anyone can teach his or her own language and are not aware of the challenges that lay behind this apparently easy task: 「私は日本語教師です。この職業も以前にくらべればだいぶ認知度が上がってきたようですが、念のために押しますと、外国人に日本語を教えるのが仕事です。国語教師との違いは、相手が日本語を母語としない人たちであるという一点です。 教えるのは日本語ですから、とりあえず日本語がしゃべれれば務まりそうなものですけれども、学習者から見れば日本語は外国語。教師の側にも日本語を外国語として見る目が求められます。そしてこの、「母語を外から見る目」を持つということは、日本語ネイティブのみなさんがなんとなく想像していらっしゃるより、おそらくかなり、難しい。」(p3) The author wrote this book for Japanese readers, and her point is to show to native speakers the difficulties, the charm, the strangeness even of the language they speak every day. She wants to bring the amazement Japanese learners experience to the native speakers: 「日々自在に操っていらっしゃる母語、日本語に、新鮮な驚きを感じていただければ幸いです。」(p.4) When I saw this book and understood what it was about, I immediately thought about 海野凪子(うみの・なぎこ)’s work 『日本人の知らない日本語』. The fact that 『日本語びいき』was first published under the title 『日本人の日本語知らず』tend to draw this two books closer. But they are in fact very different. …

Currently reading: 『未来のミライ』by 細田守

Some months ago Topple commented on one of my posts to recommend the collection 角川つばさ文庫 (collection “Tsubasa” of the publisher Kadokawa). I have been on the lookout for a book of this collection since then and finally spotted one in a bookshop the other day: 『未来のミライ』by 細田守 (ほそだ・まもる). The collection First of all, let’s talk about the collection because I am sure it will interest all Japanese learners! Tsubame is a collection for children/young readers of the famous publisher Kadokawa. The books have a light green cover and a slightly bigger size than standard books. I don’t know if it is true for all the books in the collection, but mine has some illustrations inside. 「レーベル名には、物語の世界を自分の「つばさ」で自由自在に飛び、未来をきりひらいてほしい。」 角川つばさ文庫 The books are classified by levels indicated by one, two or three leaves on the cover. 『未来のミライ』has three leaves which means: “小学上級から”. No matter the level, all books come with full furigana, which is, of course, the best part of this series. They are also classified into 6 genres: A オリジナル B ベストセラー C ノベライズ D ノンフィクション E 海外の名作 …

Currently Reading: 『流星の絆』by 東野圭吾

To me, the best way to start reading again after a long period of trials and errors is to start a novel by Keigo HIGASHINO. The magic worked this time too, with the novel 『流星の絆』(りゅうせい の きずな). It is a very long novel (617 pages), but I am confident that if you like Higashino’s style, you will like everything, from the shortest short stories to the longest novels. I felt committed to the story right from the beginning. I don’t know why I sometimes stay indifferent to what happens to the characters and sometimes feel immediately involved in their story. The author’s style maybe… Anyway, the beginning of the novel is completely engrossing, with a murder and a criminal investigation. This is exactly what I needed to start reading in Japanese again. After having made several attempts to start a novel, starting several books and giving up after a few pages, I was happy to feel engrossed in a story and read the first 100 pages without even realising it. Given the length of the novel, …

Currently Reading: 『往復書簡』by 湊かなえ

I was very excited to start a new book by Kanae MINATO! I have read only one book from this author before, but it is clearly one of my favourite books. I was looking forward to reading another story by Kanae MINATO and was full of expectations when I finally opened 『往復書簡』. The fact that it is an epistolary (書簡・しょかん) work added to my excitement (I love epistolary novels, but I don’t read them often.) My expectations were both entirely fulfilled and confounded. Fulfilled because I felt engrossed in the story right from the beginning and confounded because… it is not a novel! It is a collection of short stories! I realised it only when I reached the end of the “first chapter” (which was, in reality, the first story). Have you ever started a collection of short stories thinking it was a novel? I can’t remember having such an experience before. I felt so disappointed, haha. I like short stories too, but not as much as a novel. No, in fact, if I can …

Currently Reading: 「それでも、日本人は戦争を選んだ」by 加藤陽子

I have finally given up reading 「朝鮮開国と日清戦争」by Soki WATANABE because the more I read, the more difficult the book becomes. I was unlucky in my choice when I picked a History book, I should have bought a popular book written for a large public. Watanabe’s book was maybe too specialised for me. As I don’t renounce reading History books in Japanese, I picked another one: 「それでも、日本人は戦争を選んだ」by 加藤陽子 (かとう・ようこ). Yoko KATO is a professor at Tokyo University. Her field is the period spanning from the Russo-Japanese War to the Pacific War, but her speciality is centred on Japan’s diplomatic relations and military actions of the 30’s. Her book is divided into 5 chapters: Prologue: Let’s reflect upon Japan Modern History Chapter 1: First Sino-Japanese War Chapter 2: Russo-Japanese War Chapter 3: World War I Chapter 4: The Mukden Incident and the Second Sino-Japanese War Chapter 5: Pacific war The point of this book is to reflect upon Japan Modern History through the wars of this period. Why this book is easy to read? This book seems much …