I have no idea how to number the weekly updates anymore, since I’ve hardly done them every week! So, to heck with it, really :) I’ve kind of lost track of how many books I’ve read and how many words I’ve read, too… I guess that it’s a sign that I don’t need to track them anymore, once the number doesn’t matter to me!
I wrote that I wanted to organize my Japanese books, which, since our move, had been hanging out upstairs, in the living room, in my study and in the bedroom. Now they’re all on the bookshelf to the right of my desk. And they’re beautiful. I often just stop to look at them, and I’ve been reading more since they’re right there, looking tempting. Before I knew about extensive reading, and back when Japanese books were hard to come by for me, I would buy books that were waaaay too hard for me, give it my best shot and give up. So I’ve got so many books I’ve never read. Some of them, though, are starting to be within my fluent reading level…
I’ve been continuing to read the NHK News Web Easy articles over breakfast. I love them, I wish there were more than 5 a day! I’ve been watching a lot of the NHK school programs, too. (I’ll put them on when I’m feeding the boy, for example. Makes the shoveling of oatmeal a little less boring.) Are you watching 歴史にドキリ? You should at least check out the songs. I mean, who doesn’t love watching Commodore Perry bopping around with members of the shogunate?
All right, that’s enough self-indulgent chatter for now. And for you, that’s enough reading of the self-indulgent chatter! I know, for me, it’s way too easy to get into reading about Japanese without actually reading Japanese. If you’re a beginning reader, go, right now, and read なめれおん, the little chameleon that licks everything. It won’t take you long and it’ll brighten up your day. If you’re an intermediate reader, give おばけにょうぼう a try. It is beautiful and creepy and it’ll teach you what 仲人口 means.
I’m pleased to say I read one whole book for the tadoku contest! Difficulty: Very, very active and demanding little 11-month old. I finished the book over two glorious reading sessions; during the first, my husband Brian took him to the store and to the park, and during the second he was at Grandma’s house. I can do things with a baby around, to some extent (as I write this, he’s sitting on the ground alternately trying to flip through a book and pushing it around) but as I’ve said before, there’s no such thing as flow with him around.
The book I read was called おばあさんのお手玉, about a girl and her grandmother. Her grandmother liked to make beanbags and give them to local preschools and was also an excellent juggler. She had some special beanbags that she’d bring out on her mother’s birthday, and most of the book is her story of her childhood during World War II and why those beanbags were so precious to her. Something like a hundred pages and 6000 words, so a pretty decently sized book for me.
Lately I have little free time and a whole lot I want to do with it, so thanks to LordSilent and the tadoku contest for the push I needed to read a bit!
I added more picture book word totals to my Ehon Navi page. One problem with it is that it’s probably not very clear how useful it is; word count generally corresponds to difficulty (not always, but close enough) so it’s the most useful way of figuring out whether or not a book is at your difficulty level. Two of my favorites from this session were from the same author, Fujio Tsuchiya. Can’t Wait Three Minutes and Kidasaurus, good times. I also dig that Lickelon, since my baby is at that stage where everything goes in his mouth, so there are certain similarities there… Anyways, I’m up to 380,500 words, for a total of 303 books.
I’ve also been re-reading some books, such as those stories from Edo, and thinking about graded readers. Before I got derailed I was thinking about writing some low-level ones, and now I’m back to thinking about that! We may see more about that…
I’ve been enjoying reading in Japanese again! I’ve got some good work done on the Ehon Navi project, and I’ve been re-reading some of the books from my collection. I’m up to 376,825 words, though my notes got a little muddled while I was distracted with the boy for all those months.
Ehon Navi has been driving me up the wall. Whether I’m using Firefox on the Mac, Firefox on a PC (well, on VMware Fusion) or Internet Explorer on a PC, it doesn’t consistently load. When it seems like it’s hung up for good, sometimes I can get away with closing the browser and re-opening it. Sometimes it doesn’t load, ever. Sometimes it loads just fine the first time. The upside is that if I can get a book to load, as long as I keep that window open I can go back to it whenever I want. (Important with a little guy that needs my attention all the time!) All the same, I’m glad it’s available, and I hope it’ll be of use to other learners, too.
I haven’t read Japanese picture books for a long time, and it’s really rather relaxing when my brainpower is feeling low. Some of them are so darn funny or weird I have to summarize them for my husband. (Looking at you, Monster in the Moonlight.) A lot of so-so ones, but oh well.
Oh, and I finally bought 着物のえほん (A Picture Book of Kimono), which is just gorgeous and full of kimono knowledge. I’ve wanted it for a very long time, and since I was ordering another book from Kinokuniya to replace one I lost anyways, I thought I’d just go ahead and get it! Kinokuniya’s online ordering doesn’t seem to be ridiculously complicated anymore, incidentally. I’ll have to update my posts that mention it.
Yes, there’s a reason my twitter stream suddenly went from chatter about Japanese to sporadic complaints about how tired I am: I’m pregnant! I’ve known since mid-August, but the chance of miscarriage drops off significantly after twelve weeks, so I wanted to keep it quiet until then (although at least one person did guess from my tweets, it seems). So far things are normal, but as it turns out, what’s “normal” in the first trimester can actually be pretty weird – I’ve been exhausted, horrendously nauseous and have developed aversions to food, prenatal vitamins, toothpaste and other useful things. Even better, I’ve had trouble concentrating on anything more challenging than “Dancing With The Stars” (yes, seriously) and so Japanese – along with most of the rest of my life – has been right out. Glory hallelujah, the first trimester weirdness is supposed to fade in the second trimester, and I have indeed been feeling better recently.
So I’ve been hitting the baby books, but I miss Japanese, and I’m feeling alert enough to read at least a little bit this month! I got another glorious package of books from Emmie the other day, and it includes some from my favorite series and some that I’ve been dying to read for months (or even years, for a couple of them). I’m most excited about some of the タイムスリップ探偵団 series, which is apparently some sort of time-travel detective series for kids around 4th or 5th grade where a group of kids encounters famous personages from Japanese history. They’re more complex than other books I’ve read so far, so I’ll have to work up to them with a little Zorori first.
Happy reading, everyone!
Is it Saturday already? Rather more to the point, is it already three Saturdays after my previous update? I did actually read between that update and this one, but I haven’t totaled up my words, so that may have to wait until tomorrow if I am feeling ambitious, or possibly even next week. Real life has been claiming my attention in a pretty huge way… Let’s say I’ve got a new project. Haven’t abandoned this one, though! I’m just distracted, and actually rather exhausted.
What have you been reading lately?
Wow, I seriously didn’t read anything this week — partly because I just wasn’t into it (the first part of the week) and then I got a bit of a cold (the second part). That’s OK, there are off weeks too. I’ve got a lot of awesome books to read when I do get back into the right mood for it, because my latest shipment from Emmie showed up! I read one this evening, bringing me up to 364,010 words (a difference of 4,000 words, or one わんわん探偵団 book) and I have a feeling I’ll read much more next week. I’m atoning with a post about buying new/used books which should be easier to untangle than the other one I wrote, and I’ll have some more posts up this week as well.
So I would like to to start listening to more Japanese music, and I was hoping you all could come up with some recommendations. My music tastes are all over the map in general: you can look at my last.fm profile to try to figure it out, but it may or may not do you any good. It’s hard to say what exactly I do like, but I tend to find joy in most things I listen to if they’re performed well and with sincerity. What I like to listen to is also very dependent on what I’m doing — if I’m working or concentrating on writing in English or Japanese, I generally can’t listen to anything with lyrics in a language I understand, so at those times I listen to a lot of classical music and video game soundtracks. So what I’m looking for is music to listen to while I’m walking, doing chores or not doing anything very seriously; for immersion purposes it should be music with lyrics that aren’t mumbled.
I only have random bits of knowledge about Japanese music. I love old-fashioned sad music of any type, so I imagine I’d enjoy enka; my knowledge of that is limited to a Hibari Misora album (which I love) and the songs off the Kill Bill 1 and 2 soundtracks, though. I have an inexplicable weakness for the kinds of upbeat songs that show up as the opening songs in shounen anime. Classic songs that everyone knows would be fun, too. Not so much on cute idols whose dancing is better than their singing, but who knows, maybe I’d be surprised.
Music I can buy from iTunes would be nice, but I can go to Kinokuniya too. I’m up for anything, I just don’t particularly know where to start. Any ideas?
I’m up to 360,010 words this week, or 38,244 more than I had last update. Most of that number, though, is from the last two days of the tadoku contest, or really the last day — I basically read all day on Sunday. After that, I did go back to reading level 2 things, like I thought I would; I read a lot of the 心の絵本 stories online (although I put together the word counts for them earlier, I actually just skimmed them myself) and I got a lot of really great picture books from Nikkei Bunko that I’m going to write a longer review of at some point. I’ve also been reading the level 4 volume 2 graded readers — kind of a mood swing to go between picture books and higher-level stories like that.
I’m enjoying this whole “better grammar through free writing” thing, too. Puts a dent in my reading time, but I can’t say I’ve ever had fun with grammar before in my life.
So I guess if I’ve learned anything about myself from this tadoku contest, it’s not that I have a competitive streak, but that I have a competitive streak that lasts about one week! I read 18,140 words this week, so about the same amount of words this week as last week, putting me at 321,766. I did get in a couple of useful posts, though. I really hope that people find other resources near them and send them to me, because I think the list of locations could be really useful for new readers.
Since the tadoku contest isn’t actually over yet, I’ll keep this update short, but on August 1, I’ll write all about the fun I’ve had! I’m feeling rather more competitive in these last three days, so I’ll keep reading until then.
I’m up to 303,626 words, or 18,700 more than last week. I may be getting a little bored, which is not surprising considering that this has been my main project since March. I’m always fascinated by something, but that something changes every so often. I don’t always share my obsessions with the world, so if I ever forget to update this for a while, rest assured I am off doing something else that makes me perfectly happy. “Trust your obsessions,” Neil Gaiman wrote, and I do. But for now it is still tadoku, so I will try to read more next week!
I’ve decided that I’m going to try to write more in Japanese, which I say about once every two weeks and then totally neglect to follow up on. I’ve been writing this long post about tadoku and vocabulary acquisition, and it occurred to me that many of the words I feel like I know really well are words that I kind of sealed in my mind by needing them for a diary entry and remembering them without looking them up. I used to write all the time in Japanese, so it’s not like I lack things to say… I just have to get back into the habit. I started a blog at Ameba, so if I write in Japanese that’s where it’ll be.
- Extensive reading is known as 多読, or tadoku in Japanese. To try it, start with very easy books (ones with no more than two or three unknown words per page), and follow these principles:
1. Don’t look up words in the dictionary while reading.
2. Skip over parts you don’t understand.
3. If you aren’t enjoying one book, toss it aside and get another.
Find something to read!
Hundreds of free books and stories online
Local bookstores and libraries
Buying new and used books online
For more information, read "What Is Extensive Reading?" and "Classification System."
To learn more about Kunihide Sakai, who developed the three principles of tadoku and has worked to popularize it in Japan for years, read this interview with him.
Finally, for more than you ever wanted to know about why I believe extensive reading is worth your time, read my tadoku manifesto.
Superfluous StatsBooks read: 303
Word count (since starting the blog): 380,500
- About Myself
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