If you’ve been spending the last few months frantically studying for the JLPT, you’re probably glad to be finished and in no rush to read Japanese. But why let all that hard work go to waste? Now is a great time to take a break from textbooks and try one of those challenges nearly all students of the language set for themselves: reading a book in Japanese.
If you don’t have a particular novel or author in mind, allow me to suggest Shinichi Hoshi (星 新一), a science-fiction writer who specialized in short-short stories. Featuring robots, aliens, and advanced technology, Hoshi’s work often addresses the problems of the present/future in a way that seems to mix Orwell and Aesop. Individual stories can be as little as three pages, and still contain enough substance to be thought-provoking.
This format is great for learning because you can get through a story (or several) in one sitting, even if you need to check the dictionary constantly. After a few stories, you’ll find that much of the vocabulary repeats, which will be useful if the JLPT ever starts asking questions about spaceships. The grammatical patterns should be familiar to those aspiring to the 2級 level, but are still accessible at lower skill levels. For a sampling of Hoshi’s world, check out this video:
Whether you decide to read Shinichi Hoshi or Banana Yoshimoto or whoever, it’s a great time to undertake a new challenge and reinvigorate your desire to study Japanese.