Tbh I think I’m at around current level, I would say N4/N3 in terms of actually confident reading - certainly on LearnNatively I am bouncing somewhere between the 14-22 range in terms of ‘this is about appropriate for where I want to be’. So definitely don’t feel alone in looking at this thread and feeling completely lost/not at everybody else’s reading level.
Now, I have been ‘learning’ Japanese in some form or another for years and years, but would probably really say I started really learning seriously in 2014 when I moved to Japan on the JET program – prior to this I only really knew hirigana and katakana. I never really got fully conversational while I was there at that time but I did learn enough to pass N3 by the skin of my teeth in 2016, but realistically I wouldn’t say my level was actually there, it was just cramming.
Been grinding away ever since. When I went back over NY 2020/2021, my speaking had progressed to the point where I could confidently backpack around Japan by myself, but I still couldn’t actually read. It was only in the closing days of December 2022 that I decided I actually wanted to do something about it - there’s a 15-minutes-a-day challenge somewhere in this forum that I count as the main impetus.
Anyway, I still haven’t finished a children’s book I’m reading (こぐまのクーク物語 春と夏 | L19) , so honestly I’m a bit depressed since I still can’t really read prose so well yet. But I figure, hell, it’s been two months - and there’s so much manga to read still… (I have a massive box of manga I brought back from Japan for some reason that I bought and never read, so trying to work my way through that first, aside from the occasional digital purchase).
One thing I keep thinking about is what sort of the equivalent of what I’m reading is in English - I feel like I’m still at, like, just a little above kindergarden but I’d really like to be reading, I dunno, the Hardy Boys or Redwall or something. lol. Still a while to go before that…
/edit Oh, I did figure out something helpful for me with child characters – I understand them a lot better if I’m reading their dialogue aloud.
I think I now know what you mean. There are some scenes where I nearly cried. There is one where they start to introduce story time at lunch and one boy says that he has nothing to tell, but the teacher shows him that everyone has something to say and that just warmed my heart.
Yes, I think there is still a niche there I need to figure out, a level gap between “can read Yotsuba” and “ready for a first book”. But there’s probably an easier children’s book somewhere. Going to check in at the local Jpn foundation library and see.
ながいながいペンギンの話 | L22 it’s a full length book but perfect for people in the N4 bridging to N3 range IMO. Lots of repetition and while there is some niche vocab (it’s about penguins after all) I remember some of it being easy to guess given the pictures.
And I finished both yesterday.
In the end 化物語 (上) was okay, but there’s not much progression. I guess it keeps an episodic nature for the rest of the book (and series?). If so, I will just stop here.
推し、燃ゆ was interesting. While it gave me some コンビニ人間 vibes, I couldn’t relate to the main character in this story. I really liked the writing, though. I can get why it got a prize.
Thanks to 推し、燃ゆ being so short, I still had a bit of time before bed, so I also tried to read a bit of 後宮妃の管理人 3, but it feels kinda boring so far. I feel like the author had a good idea in volume 1, but, since then, things have been going downhill. Well, it’s part of my backlog, so I should eventually read it…
My general thing is a lot (A LOT) of children’s books omit kanji which ironically makes things much more difficult for me to read. But I think I’m reaching the point where I can just power through it because I know more words generally.
It’s a really annoying quirk of the Japanese language that all the kid-focused stuff is a massive PITA to read for me because of the way that native speakers learn the language (which obviously works for them much better than the way I personally learned it).
Just finished よつばと！４ Today. Yotsuba’s newspaper
ラーメン赤猫 1 I found randomly in Kinokuniya and I love it! About halfway through. The tiger’s my favorite
Finally, barely touched ヲタクに愛は難しい1 and ホリミヤ1, but they’re in the works of being read. I’m probably going to focus on ヲタク because it’s just so cute that I ended up buying the first four and the art book, but the lack of ふりがな makes it harder to read through. Still, I will do it
I read the first chapter and feels like someone mashed ビブリア古書堂の事件手帖 (series) | L30 (for the bookstore and the fact that we deal with a book related problem; plus the dynamic between the main character and 亜門, the nice gentleman on the cover) and コーヒーが冷めないうちに | L29 (for the coffee shop and supernatural element; you learn about that supernatural stuff in the first couple pages in both cases, so I don’t think it counts as spoiler).
In unrelated news, コーヒーが冷めないうちに | L29 isn’t marked as read for me anymore. I don’t understand why. Did I just forget to mark it read at the time? I’m pretty sure I did though… I thought I graded it too, but can’t see anything anymore.
Giving ぼっち・ざ・ろっく! 1 | L28 a try since my physicals came in but progress is slow going… like, 30-min one chapter slow. It might be too far above my level right now… (funnily enough I don’t actually feel like it’s that crazy, probably because I watched the anime, but then when I look at the clock it’s definitely taking me way longer than most other manga). Will poke at it through the week and maybe shelve it for later…
I wonder if New Game! or any of the other Kirara 4komas are as difficult…?