Thursday, July 28, 2011

Buyin' some books

Studying a language is ideally a fluid kind of process. Of course there are plateaus, peaks and valleys, but it can be difficult to measure your progress. One of the more rewarding metrics is your reading ability. Often this will climb gradually, so it can be difficult to notice your improvement. Then one day you're reading comics and books.

It's only in the past few months that I've started to undertake books with no furigana (little characters above kanji that tell you their reading). I think that's a landmark, that I can get by and understand most of what's being said without looking anything up. Still, at this point I have to be careful to choose books with topics that aren't beyond me. No astrophysics just quite yet.

Here are a couple books I picked up at the airports on the way home that I think are a reasonable representation of where I'm at.

This first, 「死ぬかと思った」(I Thought I Would Die) is a collection of short, embarrassing stories. To give you an idea, the first story is called 母とソープランドに入る (I go into a Soapland with my mother).

The second one, called 大阪ルール (Rules of Osaka) is from a series that lays down kind of inside jokes and funny qualities about the people and places from a particular region or city in Japan. It's kind of like a "You know you're from (insert place) if you (insert behavior)" kind of thing.

If you're studying or have studied Japanese, what is your experience with reading? Are there any particular books that you recommend or would warn against? I've heard good things about the native Murakami Haruki but haven't given it a go yet...

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