Book review: 『あの日の君に恋をした、そして』and『そして、その日まで君を愛する』by Koichi Nitori


Title: 『あの日の君に恋をした、そして』and 『そして、その日まで君を愛する』
Author: Koichi Nitori (似鳥航一)
Publisher: メディアワークス文庫
285 pages + 285 pages

These two books are the two facets of the same story and tell the same events from two different points of view. The story is about a father and a son exchanging body when they both are 12 years-old, with a lap of 30 years in time. Natsuki wakes up in his father’s body, 30 years earlier, and Shu wakes up in Natsuki’s body 30 years later.

You can read the two books in any order, but obviously, your reading experience will be different depending on which book you read first.


The two books

I find the idea of the two books really excellent, and I would be happy to read more books like this in the future.

The stories are about time travelling and body exchange, but I find that these two topics were not really used to their full potential by the author. First of all, the fact that Natsuki and Shu wake up in each other’s body should give rise to comical or weird situations. The books are not really going in this direction though, everything happens smoothly for the two characters, with people barely noticing that they are not their usual self.

Additionally, the theme of time travelling in fiction raises tons of difficulties, and I think that writing this kind of stories is extremely difficult. I find that these two novels avoided the difficulties by simply ignoring them. For example, when it was convenient, what happened in the past would change the future, but other times, things would happen a certain way in the past because they had already happened like this in the future. I understand that these are relatively short books that have their story to tell, and the goal was not to develop on time travel. Nevertheless, it is easy to spot big plot holes and other things that simply do not work.

This being said, the focus of the two books is the story, not the time travel mechanism, so let’s have a look at each book:


Natsuki Saga, 12 years old, is knocked over by a truck when crossing a bridge and is thrown in the river. As he is about to drown, he wakes up in his father’s body when this one was 12. Now stuck 30 years earlier, Natsuki wonders if he can stop a serial killing that took place at the time and was never solved.

Based on the cover and the title, I was not excepting the story to tackle a serial killing. I was agreeably surprised and found the novel extremely entertaining.

This story has a good pace with things starting off very quickly. The mystery is good enough to make you want to continue reading, and I found overall that the story was very engaging. The time travel theme also adds interest to the story with a good twist in the middle.

I must say that some scenes felt like reading a book for children, and this book is certainly not the best mystery I have read so far, but overall, I had a lot of fun reading it. 『あの日の君に恋をした、そして』 makes for a quick and entertaining read, and I heartily recommend it if you are looking for an easy book in Japanese. I think it could be a good first novel to tackle for Japanese learners at a N3 level.


Shu Saga, 12 years-old, wakes up in his yet to be born son’s body, 30 years later. We follow him over the years as he gets closer to Natsuki’s cousin. An unexpected revelation will make things more complicated (or simpler?).

Contrary to あの日, this novel was rather uneventful… To be honest, I found it a bit boring and had a hard time finishing it, but I don’t think that it is less good than the other, it is just a matter of personal taste.

This story is told from Shu’s point of view, and it is a love story with a lot of everyday life scenes. I was constantly waiting for something to happen or for a big revelation that would give a complete new meaning to this book and the other… but apart from one interesting twist, nothing really happens…

There are some starts of plots, but they all end up leading to nothing, and we are left with what I found was quite a dull everyday life. This book only became exciting when it related to scenes that happened in the other book. Every time the novel connected with what happened in あの日, my interest was triggered, but the rest felt like filler to me.


While the two books are connected and should be read together, I loved one and did not like the other. I found that あの日の君に恋をした、そして overall makes more sense because what triggers the time travel happens in this novel. Reading it made me want to read the other one, but if I had started with そして、その日まで君を愛する, I probably would have given up halfway and never read the other one.

If you want to read only one of the two books, I recommend あの日の君に恋をした、そして because it can be read on its own, whereas I find that そして、その日まで君を愛する would not make much sense if read alone.

Both books were very easy to read, and I think that あの日の君に恋をした、そして can make for a very good first novel to read in Japanese.

Book review: 『あのころ』by Momoko Sakura


Title: 『あのころ』
Author: Momoko Sakura (さくらももこ)
Published by 集英社文庫
213 pages

『あのころ』is the first title in a series of three books about Momoko Sakura’s childhood. The other two books are 『まる子だった』and 『ももこの話』. The book contains 15 short episodes, all accompanied by an illustration.


I love reading Momoko Sakura’s recollection of her childhood. The way she talks about it makes her stories extremely heart-warming, relatable and funny.

I think that I already wrote this in my review of 『まる子だった』, but I am surprised by how similar children’s everyday life can be across the world. I can relate to so many episodes described by Momoko Sakura, even though I grew up in France. Waiting until the last days of the holidays before starting your homework, struggling to learn how to ride a bike when everyone else is doing fine, pestering your parents to get some money and buy useless things you immediately regret… there are so many relatable episodes in there! I remember that I hated gymnastics at school, and the marathon episode reminded me of the dreaded gymnastics competition we had in primary school.

Overall, the tone is mostly light and funny, but there are some moments that I found a little sad. Adults (parents and teachers) can sometimes say harsh things or have an attitude that will wound children, even if they didn’t mean to. But even these unhappy moments become cherished memories. The whole book feels very nostalgic.

I only have positive things to say about 『あのころ』, and I heartily recommend it. With its short chapters and everyday life vocabulary, it is also a perfect reading material for Japanese learners.

Book review: 『11文字の殺人』 by Keigo Higashino


Title: 『11文字の殺人』 (11もじのさつじん)
Author: Keigo HIGASHINO (東野圭吾)
Published by 光文社文庫
356 pages

『11文字の殺人』 is one of Keigo Higashino’s first novels. It was first published in 1990 and got a new bunko edition this year (2020) with a new design cover and a bigger font.


This book is a real page-turner. I found it very easy to read, the kind of books where I am able to read 50 pages or more in a row because it is mainly composed of dialogues.

Our protagonist is an author of crime fiction whose partner has been murdered, and who decides to investigate by herself. There is nothing unrelated to the case in the novel, the pace is very quick, we jump from an interview to another, there are almost no descriptions.

I would say that 『11文字の殺人』 is purely entertaining, and that it succeeds in keeping the reader engrossed in the story until the end. It certainly does not have the depth of other books like 『手紙』 or 『虚な十字架』, nor the genius of other whodunnits like those of the Kaga series, but it is a page-turner and an easy read.

To me, it was the perfect book to relax, a book that does not ask any effort on my part and keeps me entertained. I think that it one of the easiest Higashino books I have read, and one that I recommend to people who want to get into reading Higashino but want to start with an easy one.

Book review: 『アンフィニシュトの書』 by Shinya Asashiro


Title: 『アンフィニシュトの書』 (The Unfinished Book)
Author: Shinya ASASHIRO (浅白深也)
Published by 電撃文庫

I could not find much information about this book or the author…


I bought this book to get into light novels (this is the first Dengeki book I read), and I was very surprised by how entertaining it was. When I chose this book, I thought it would be some kind of love story, and I was delighted when I realised that it was in fact a very nice mystery.

This being said, the story is very predictable and the mystery extremely easy to crack (in my opinion). At around one third of the book I was able to predict how the story would unfold and what would happen. Apart from some details and minor twists that I had not foreseen, the story did not have much to offer that I hadn’t already guessed. It felt like reading a detective book for children at times.

However, this did not prevent me from enjoying the story. Even if I think that the book could have challenged the reader a little more, following the protagonist in his adventure was extremely enjoyable and the story engrossing. I liked the characters and the settings, I liked the mechanism behind the story and overall, had a very pleasant time reading this book.

If you want to read a light novel with an interesting plot mechanism and a whodunnit flavour, this book is perfect. If you want to read a murder mystery that challenges you to find the culprit, you will certainly find 『アンフィニシュトの書』 too easy. Finally, if you are looking for easy books, I found this one quite easy to read. There is a repetitive pattern too, which makes it easier and easier to read as you get used to the vocabulary, characters and places.

Overall, this book was perfect to me because it was a mix of things that I love in novels: crime, mystery and books. If the author decides to makes a series around this theme, I will definitely be there for the other titles!

Note: you can read the first 47 pages on the publisher’s website.

Book review: 『おれがあいつであいつがおれで』 by Hisashi Yamanaka


Title: 『おれがあいつであいつがおれで』
Author: Hisashi YAMANAKA (山中恒)
Published by Kadokawa (角川文庫)

This book was first serialised in the magazine 『小6時代』 in 1979. It has been adapted into drama, film and manga since then.

It is now available as a regular bunko format (Kadokawa) or in the Tsubasa collection. I chose the Tsubasa version because it has complete furigana and illustrations by Ikura Sugimoto (杉基イクラ). You can read the first pages on the publisher’s website.


Sixth year of primary school. Kazuo Saito and Kazumi Saito meet again (they used to go to the same kindergarten), but Kazuo is far from happy to see Kazumi beeing transferred to his school. And things get much worse when he wakes up in Kazumi’s body…

I was very surprised by how good this book was! I mainly bought it to widen the range of easy books I could recommend to Japanese learners, but I was engrossed in the story from beginning to end.

First of all, the story is very funny with a lot of comical scenes and dialogues. Not only do Kazuo and Kazumi have to adapt to a new body and identity, they have to somehow fit in a new family, which is of course impossible to do smoothly. This leads to funny moments involving other members of their family, schoolmates and professors.

One of the most challenging thing for our two protagonists is to change the way they talk. I found the parts on language very interesting and part of the reason why I find this book perfect for language learners. Kazuo and Kazumi constantly have to adjust how they end their sentences. It is particularly funny to see Kazuo navigating between his rough but natural language to the more refined way of speaking that is expected from Kazumi.

While being funny, this book has also a more profound impact. By exchanging places, Kazuo and Kazumi realise that what they took for granted, that girls should behave like girls and boys like boys, is in fact putting a lot of pressure on them. The story is focused on Kazuo, which is our main character, and we see him realising that girls are supposed to help in the kitchen and are constantly lectured on how to behave, how to talk, how to eat.

I find that this book shows in a clever and entertaining way how difficult it is to be yourself in a society where parents, teachers and even your classmates want you to behave according to your sex. The new Kazuo and Kazumi are not accepted anymore because they don’t fit. This also leads to the characters getting closer to each other, the book constantly switching from funny to emotional moments.

Finally, this book is also very easy to read in Japanese and makes for a perfect read for Japanese learners. While I find that this book can be read by children and adults alike, it was initially written for young readers, so the author never uses difficult words and the whole book does not contain many kanji words. The story is also very engrossing, which is not always the case when adults read children’s books. Highly recommended!

Book review: 『まる子だった』by Momoko Sakura


Title: 『まる子だった』
Author: Momoko Sakura さくら ももこ (1975-2018)
Published by 集英社文庫

This is the second volume in a series of three autobiographical books about Momoko Sakura’s childhood: 『あのころ』、『まる子だった』、『ももこの話』

There are 17 short stories in this book, all have one illustration by Momoko Sakura. 『まる子だった』can be read independently from the two other books of the series.


If you like ちびまる子ちゃん, either the manga or the anime series, then you will love this book too. Reading 『まる子だった』felt like watching an episode from the anime, but a version for adults.

For those who don’t know Maruko, she is a 9-year-old girl of the 70s created in 1986 by Momoko Sakura in her manga 『ちびまる子ちゃん』. The series was adapted into an anime in 1990, and if I am not mistaken, the anime is still going on today.

Maruko is a nickname, her real name is Momoko Sakura, the same as the author. I have read on Wikipedia that Sakura’s manga was autobiographical at the beginning, and became more fictional as the series went on.

In our book, 『まる子だった』(1997), the author comes back to the autobiographical style. She gives us stories about the 9-year-old girl she used to be, sometimes briefly talking about her adult life too. It feels like watching an episode of the anime, but from the grown-up Maruko’s point of view. As such, it was very interesting to read, and I just could not put the book down. I read it in four days!

What I really loved is that most stories allowed me to experience a typical Japanese childhood in the 70s (going to Tanabata festivals, preparing for earthquakes…), while some other stories seemed to be talking about my own childhood. It looks like children are not that different, no matter the generation or the country (I also harassed my parents for a dog).

All the stories have a similar length (around 12 pages). It is not a book for children, but it is not difficult to read either. Momoko Sakura is talking about her daily life as a child, all the stories are short, and if you have watched some episodes of the anime, it is easy to picture where the story takes place and who the characters are.

I plan to read the other two books of the series in the future!

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 that the story would evolve into an obvious romantic relationship between the two protagonists, but it does not: the novel is a mystery novel, not a romance.

And the mysteries are quite good, too. I was unable to put down the book once I started a chapter, and I have usually read a whole chapter in only one or two reading sessions. Once you start, you want to know what happened, and you cannot stop reading!

As I said, each chapter is devoted to a mystery, and this mystery is always linked to a book. You absolutely don’t need to have read these books to enjoy the story, you don’t even need to know who the authors are. Daisuke, the protagonist, has a physical condition that makes him unable to read. As a consequence, he has read none of the books that appear in the story, and if the contents of the book is important, Shioriko will explain it to him. So no need to have studied Japanese literature! 

A light novel

I still don’t know how to define a “light novel”. All I know is that I have read three this year, and they were all easy to read. If we take the definition that author Emi KITAGAWA gives of a “light novel” 「とにかく楽しいもの」, then I can say that 『ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖』is a perfect light novel: this book was highly entertaining, enjoyable and pleasant to read.

I highly recommend this book to Japanese learners. The Japanese level is not high, there is enough suspense to keep you reading even if you stumble across a difficult part, the plot progresses quickly, no long descriptions or narrative passages, a lot of dialogues, a limited number of characters, and so on. 


As a Japanese learner trying to read novels in Japanese, this book was one of the most pleasant experiences of the year. Of course, I feel rewarded if I can read my way through a challenging book, but being able to forget that I am reading in a foreign language and simply enjoy the story is also extremely rewarding.

I am tempted to read the other books of the series, but there are so many interesting titles on the メディアワークス文庫 site, that I might pick another one next time!

Book review: 『ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる』by 北川恵海

To get back on track after a small break, I picked a book I expected to be easy: 『ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる』by 北川恵海 (きたがわ・えみ).

I have already read another book by Emi KITAGAWA, which I liked very much, but I liked 『ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる』even better. I have only positive things to say about this novel, and I can only heartily recommend it to any Japanese learner (because it is easy to read) and anyone struggling with his work.

The story

As the title suggests, the novel is about quitting one’s work. The protagonist, Takashi AOYAMA is a young salaryman, who has been working for his company for 6 months. He spends most of his time at work, comes home only to sleep, has no friends, no girlfriend, no free time and only waits for the week to be over.

Now it is time to write something like “Then he meets a guy named Yamamoto and his life changes”, but it would give the impression that the novel is a kind of candid pursuit of happiness when it is much more than that. To put the record straight, one should say that the novel, instead of showing how you can change your life, shows instead how hard it is to do it.

Takashi AOYAMA is trapped in his situation and cannot find a way out. While his feelings are perfectly described, his personality and appearance remain loose so that it is easy for the reader to identify with him. I am sure that many people read their own story in this novel. After all, who never struggled with his work?

Personally, the beginning of the novel brought me back to the time when I was coming home from work at 10p.m every day and had a 20 minutes pause at lunch to eat something from a convenience store. I started having skin problems from stress, I suppose, and not getting enough sunlight. I felt that my work was taking my time and my health out of me, that it was in fact, taking my life away from me. I find that the novel captures and describes this feeling very well and I immediately felt involved in the story and the protagonist’s fate.

The very beginning of the novel gives a good idea of how this is achieved, and it will also show that the novel is not difficult to read in Japanese:


Light novel?

I still don’t know how to define light novels, but I think that 『ちょっと今から仕事やめてくる』is one of these. All the elements at the periphery of the story have been reduced, and the novel focuses entirely on the protagonist and the plot. There are no descriptions or long narrative passages, the story turns around a few familiar places and situations. There are a handful of characters, with a lot of scenes involving only Takashi AOYAMA and Yamamoto. The working environment of Takashi is reduced to two main characters, and the reader is spared any complicated description of Takashi’s work. There are a lot of dialogues and frequent line breaks so that you never find yourself with a page stuffed with text.

It looks like if all the elements of context have been simplified to create a short novel (232 pages), easy to read while commuting or after a long day’s work. It naturally makes things easier for Japanese learners too.


I loved this novel very much because it really spoke to my heart. If you don’t have literary expectations and take this novel for the story and message it conveys, it really is worth putting in the hands of anyone who has a hard time at work, who needs courage and feel depressed. More generally, it is a nice story that will speak to a lot of people I think.