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Good Reading Material?

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Good Reading Material?

Postby Bengal_Tiger234 » Wed 07.01.2009 8:45 pm

Hi, I'm new here. I've been studying Japanese for roughly 2-3 years and this site looks like it can really help me in my endeavors. I would say I have a pretty strong vocabulary for the most part, although there are definitely plenty of words I have yet to learn and I can read about 900-1000 kanji or so with some difficulty. My understanding of Japanese grammar is decent and I'm in the midst of tackling now a lot of the somewhat more advanced grammar. I finished learning all the grammar in the Genki Textbook series about a year and a half ago, learned everything that appears in Tae Kims Grammar guide (although I didn't just use his guide to learn the grammar as his site is merely a summary) and since then I have been learning grammar as I've come across it.

So, with that introduction, I was wondering if anyone here knows of anything worthwile for me to read in Japanese. I'm not looking for language-learning material, just some regular Japanese writing or maybe even a Japanese book. Newspapers and a lot of journalism/online articles are still too hard (as my kanji knowledge is only really half that I need to be able to read a newspaper comfortably) and I know most novels can be even harder than Newspapers to read (shudders). So, is there anything at my described level out there that I could look into and possibly buy off the internet or at a bookstore?
I had a thought that maybe I'd be able to read a Harry Potter book translated into Japanese. I don't know how difficult that would be though. The HP books in English (especially the earlier ones in the series, not so much the later ones) are aimed directly at children, so maybe its the same in Japanese? It's just one possibility that's going on in my mind, but any ideas are welcome and appreciated greatly.
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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby wccrawford » Wed 07.01.2009 10:02 pm

Manga. You sound like you're just a little more advanced than I am, and manga is the thing I can read for fun right now.

I have Harry Potter 1 sitting on my shelf and waiting... But it's still just a little too hard to read without a dictionary at my hand. But even with a dictionary, I swear the translation is lacking. Even the first sentence comes out way different in overall meaning. (The original says something about being 'normal people' where the Japanese translation is more like 'honest people'. And they're boasting it in the Japanese, where they are pleading in the English.)
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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby Harisenbon » Wed 07.01.2009 10:23 pm

wccrawford wrote:II swear the translation is lacking.


Really? I read Azkaban in JP and English and found it a rather good translation -- especially considering some of the garbage that gets passed off as "translation" in most foreign books.
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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby keatonatron » Wed 07.01.2009 11:06 pm

wccrawford wrote:Manga.


The OP is looking for something to read. :wink:

I had a book of Winnie the Pooh that was pretty good. It did use kanji, but included furigana. I don't know if the story would be as exciting as Harry Potter though :)

I don't know what you can easily get from overseas, so I can't really give specific advice. In Japan you can just go to a bookstore and look in the kid's/young adults' section for lots of good reading material.
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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby Xiaohua » Thu 07.02.2009 3:24 am

The bilingual book "breaking into japanese literature" can be a good start I think.

Here are some books my Japanese language teacher recommended me :
- ガラスのウサギ 森利子 (もり としこ)
- 窓際のトットちゃん 黒柳徹子 (くろやなぎ てつこ)
- ビルマの竪琴 竹山道雄 (たけやま みちお)

I hope it will help you :)
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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby yukamina » Thu 07.02.2009 5:40 pm

Xiaohua wrote:- 窓際のトットちゃん 黒柳徹子 (くろやなぎ てつこ)

Hey, I have this book! I didn't finish reading it though, because it felt like it wasn't going anywhere. Some of it was fairly easy, other spots it was hard to figure out what was going on.
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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby kurisuto » Thu 07.02.2009 9:20 pm

yukamina wrote:Hey, I have this book! I didn't finish reading it though, because it felt like it wasn't going anywhere. Some of it was fairly easy, other spots it was hard to figure out what was going on.


I didn't read the book, but we had to translate an excerpt for one of our exams. I don't know whether it was representative of the book, but I sure appreciated the choice :wink: :wink:
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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby AJBryant » Thu 07.02.2009 11:30 pm

Something you might want to try to start with is the rather large series of Western classics translated and "rewritten" (i.e., the whole thing is a paraphrase) aimed at the junior market in Japan.

What that means is, simpler vocab, simpler grammar, and you already know the story, so reading them will give you an added boost of being able to figure out what is going on even if you don't grok every verb and adjective and noun.

Likewise, there are teen-aged versions of almost every Japanese classic book, as well as teen-aged histories, novels, and other things.

That's what I started off on (mumblety-mumble) years ago.


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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby Bengal_Tiger234 » Fri 07.03.2009 12:11 am

Wow, I didn't expect to get so many replies. Thank you everyone. All your posts have been very helpful. Xiaohua, I'll definitely look into those books you mentioned. And AJBryant, based on your advice it seems like my original idea of reading Harry Potter might actually prove fruitful.

Any more comments/suggestions are welcome indeed.
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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby becki_kanou » Fri 07.03.2009 12:55 am

Harisenbon wrote:
wccrawford wrote:II swear the translation is lacking.


Really? I read Azkaban in JP and English and found it a rather good translation -- especially considering some of the garbage that gets passed off as "translation" in most foreign books.


I read the first one in Japanese as well, and I thought the translation was quite good.

Also, Tony's suggestion of reading books you already know is a good one. I'm a big fan of Agatha Christie myself, so I read the Japanese translation of Murder on the Orient Express and it was definitely easy to follow.
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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 07.03.2009 7:38 am

I read the first HP in Japanese as well; it was an interesting read.
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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby AJBryant » Fri 07.03.2009 2:19 pm

I haven't bothered to Potter around in Japanese (heh).

How did the translator do the names? Was it a direct transliteration of the English, or did he/she try to evoke the same emotive content of the English (e.g., "Slytherin" => "slithering")?

I can only imagine rendering bastardized Latin into katakana would be headache-inducing -- even if we don't know Latin, most people can grok "occulo reparo" from occular (eyes) and "repair" -- we have the language roots. In katakana, it would have seemed gibberish, no?

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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Fri 07.03.2009 3:51 pm

It's been a while -- I think the names are direct transliterations; I remember for some of the made-up words the translator used kanji with katakana furigana.
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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby AJBryant » Fri 07.03.2009 7:37 pm

Interesting choice. I may have to check it out. :)


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Re: Good Reading Material?

Postby selinangela » Mon 07.20.2009 8:30 pm

I don't know whether it was representative of the book, but I sure appreciated the choice
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