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Issue 4: J-Book Review

February 18, 2010

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Find reading a Japanese novel daunting? Try Japanese Graded Readers!
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explanation-3awhiteeading Japanese can be a bit of a challenge for anyone who hasn’t reached that level yet where you just glance over a line of text and instantly knows what it says. We do it all the time in our own native language, whether reading a magazine, newspaper or your favorite online e-zine Chokochoko🙂

Speaking for myself, I always felt somewhat overwhelmed when I would flip open a Japanese book and see a whole page with nothing but text, text and text. At first, it just looks like a whole page of squiggly lines and the thought of having to sit down and actually READ every single word and line of text used to sent my head spinning (it still does occasionally). And let’s face it, we learners still have to read word for word cus we just haven’t reached that glance-over level yet.
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explanation-3aReading and relaxing?
When I was still living in Shanghai and browsing for a Japanese reading book in one of my favorite bookstores (Foreign Language Bookstore, the one on Fuzhou Lu close to Book City for all of you guys in Shanghai), I wanted something relaxing and easy to read, and not something where I would have to ready a dictionary at the side and it would feel more like studying. I saw this set of books piled up in the middle of the Japanese books section and it drew my attention. At first I though the books were aimed at small kids but then I saw they had varied reading levels according to the JLPT levels. So I picked up 2 different copies of the 1st volume.

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explanation-3aMini books inside each book
There are different volumes and each volume consists of four books (1, 2, 3 and 4, 4 being the highest level) ranging from beginner to JLPT level 2-ish (N2 nowadays) and currently there are, as far as I know, three volumes. There is a new 5th book which is actually book ZERO and is pre-beginner. Each book has 4 – 5 smaller books inside accompanied by an audio CD. So you could choose to listen to the audio first or read first and then listen to the audio, or just listen while reading. I personally find this very nice since I hear the words pronounced while reading along. What I also often do is read the text first, then listen to just the audio which makes it easier to catch everything once you’ve read the text. Each small book has either classic Japanese stories or topics related to Japan. The drawn images are a nice visual touch and kanji has furigana. The book recommends you not to use a dictionary when encountering an unknown word, but to guess its meaning from the context and read on. The audio CD is of very high quality and the voice actors do a great job in telling the stories and expressing emotions.

explanation-3aI was so impressed and satisfied with volume 1, that I decided to order book 4 of volume 2. Volume 2 contains a set of 5 mini books and cover things like sumo wrestling,『怖い話』(こわいはなし) and a walk through Tokyo.

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After finishing the first mini book, I’m again pleasantly satisfied with my Japanese Graded Readers. This is the kind of book you can just grab when you’re lying in bed and want some light reading or just listen to the audio book. Recommended to anybody who finds reading a Japanese novel still too challenging, Japanese Graded Readers is what you’re looking for!

Book Info
title: レベル別日本語多読ライブラリー vol. 2 (Japanese Graded Readers)
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pages: 4 – 5 mini books, varied
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dimensions: 21.5 x 15 cm
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extra: CD x 1
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language: Japanese
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publisher: ASK (www.ask-digital.co.jp)
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order: http://www.whiterabbitpress.com
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ISBN: 978-4-87217-644-5
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special Chokochoko rating: 90%

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 26, 2010 8:26 pm

    I have to agree with you about the feeling of being overwhelmed when reading Japanese books. A few months ago I managed to get my hands on some original volumes of Captain Harlock Manga from a friend of mine who had lived in Japan. Even with the pictures, the task of having to translate every line wore me down so I went back to my work books.

    Anyway, these books give me hope so thanks for the review.

    Fantastic site. Great layout.

    • March 1, 2010 11:58 am

      Thanks! Yea you would definitely like these books, its light reading and enjoyable (and ofcourse you’d pick up words here and there too!).

  2. March 27, 2010 2:59 am

    Hi, Suire Starsquid-san. Nice to meet you. Thank you so much for the comment on my blog. I wanna comment back on yours. Your blog is awesome! I also love reading paperbacks in English. In my case I just wanna enjoy reading, so I always read without using a dictionary. That is my way to read. I also love listening to audio books!!! Luckily, it is easy for English learners to get a bunch of stuff. I know that Japanese is a very minor langauge, but I’m glad to know that many people all over the world are learning Japanese!

  3. Anonymous permalink
    February 19, 2014 4:52 pm

    Almost $400 if you buy them all in one lot, more than $400 if you buy them all separately. And that doesn’t even include shipping?! No way I can afford these.

    • Squire Starsquid permalink
      February 20, 2014 4:04 pm

      you don’t have to buy them all at once, just try a single set first

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