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This page is a place for recommendations of books in Japanese. Feel free to add new recommendations, preferably including a sample passage from the book so people can gauge the difficulty level of the text.


ミス : 赤川次郎 (Akagawa Jirou)Edit

Jirou is an extremely prolific author; Wikipedia says he's written over 480 books! This is a murder mystery with elements of farcical humour (the back cover blurb describes it as "humour/suspense"). I found it pretty funny, and the heroine is an engaging character. I find the author's writing to be usually fairly straightforward to understand; his books are often quite dialogue-heavy, which helps.

Here's the opening:

   健全な目覚めは誰でも似通ったものであるが、二日酔の目覚めは ー まあ、これもたいてい似たようなものだ。
   真由美は頭痛と胸のあたりの重苦しさに、しばらくベッドから出られなかった。
   しかし、カーテンを通して射してくる光は、もう昼を示していたし、午後、早めに片付けておきたい仕事があることも、真由美の頭にしっかりと刻み込まれていた。


うたかた / サンクチュアリ : よしもと ばなな [ISBN: 4-10-135916-4] Edit

Yoshimoto Banana is the author I started with when I first tried reading 'real books' rather than manga. Her writing style is plain and conversational, and the books have quite a bit of dialogue, so they're relatively straightforward. If you're only at an intermediate level you'll find that the descriptive passages tend to use a wider range of vocabulary than you're used to; you can look some of it up or skim it as you like. This is a pair of unrelated medium length stories bound in a single volume. They're both about developing relationships between young people -- if you like shoujo manga plotlines you'll probably like these. The author actually says in the afterword that she doesn't think they're very typical of her writing; these are quite early work, I think.

This is the opening paragraph of Utakata:

   嵐とは一回キスしただけだ。    ここが日本だからまだよかったが、外国だったらそんなのほとんど友達以前の範疇だ。そしてすぐに彼は遠い所に行ってしまった。だから、私にはまだこれが恋かどうかも本当にはわからない。さっぱり、わかっていない。    それでも嵐を好きになってから私は、恋というものを桜や花火のようだと思わなくなった。

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