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So in my last post I talked about how, why, and when I got into Japanese. In this post I am going to go over the references I have/use, and give my opinion on some of them. Ready? Here we go! These are all books I own, and of course all opinions are just that, opinions. To each their own. :)

1.) Japanese Demystified – Eriko Sato
I love this book. It starts out pretty simple, but meant for an adult, and not a child. Which is what I think the biggest mistake people make, try to learn a language like a child, when they aren’t a child anymore. Our brains don’t work the same then as they do now. After the basics this book starts throwing Kanji and grammar at you right away, which I love. It makes it easy to start building simple sentences when you know what the components are, and how to use them. This book has oral practice sections, written practice sections, little mini quizzes at the end of each chapter, a “mid-term” so to speak half way through the book, and then a final exam at the end. So you can see how well, or badly, you may be doing. My rating: ★★★★★

2.) Japanese in 10 minutes a day – Bilingual Books Inc., Kershul
This. Book. Sucks. It’s okay if you want to learn just a few words and how to say them… but  that’s all it does. Romaji and ONLY romaji. No hiragana, no katakana, no kanji. So in my opinion, unless all you want to do is say a few lone words, this is a horrible option. No one can learn a language in 10 minutes a day. My rating: ★☆☆☆☆

3.) The First 100 Japanese Kanji – Introduction by Eriko Sato
This book is just Kanji. It does go into a tiny bit about pronunciation, and a little bit of the history of kanji. I do like how it goes over kun-readings and on-readings, and even talks about okurigana. [Kun-readings are Japanese readings of the kanji, on-readings are the chinese readings of the kanji, and okurigana is when kanji has kana attached to the end of it such as 「高い」instead of just 「高」by itself). The book even tells you what radical goes with which kanji. This book also gives you little examples with the kanji, but if you don’t know what you are doing it’s hard to understand it. Pretty handy. My rating: ★★★☆☆

4.) Reading Japanese – Eleanor Harz Jorden & Hamako Ito Chaplin
This book is EXCELLENT. I can’t compare it to the Japanese Demystified book because it’s just too different. It spends a lot of time introducing you to the syllabaries. And then has tons and tons of drills to read little words using them. It does introduce kanji too but not until a bit later on. Once you really get into the book you read stories, longer drills, and then hand written pieces so you get used to reading things that aren’t just typed. It helps a lot really (I need more practice in this area for sure) when you can’t just plug something into an online translator and cheat. Or use Rikaikun to hover over something to get the gist meaning of something. Although I would recommend learning the syllabaries FIRST before diving into this. It would just make it easier to start off rather than make it harder. But maybe that’s just me. My rating: ★★★★★

5.) A Guide to Reading & Writing Japanese – 3rd edition – Compiled by Florence Sakade – Tuttle Language Library
This book is a bit like the 100 first kanji book. However it’s got a lot more kanji in it. It doesn’t go into as detail as the other book does, or it would be REALLY thick. This book shows you a kanji, tells you how many strokes it has, what it’s meaning is, gives the on/kun readings, and then gives you a few examples of how to use it in a compound, if applicable. In the back it has a few  ways to look up kanji by stroke order, or by number, as they are all given an ID number. To be perfectly honest I barely ever open this book. But it’s still nice to have just in case I need it. My rating: ★★★☆☆

6.) Japanese-English / English-Japanese dictionary
Must have. If you’re learning ANY language a dictionary is an absolute must. The one I have is Random House, and has romanizations and Japanese characters in it thanks to Seigo Nakao. Although I will say this: Don’t use a dictionary as a crutch. Just like you shouldn’t use an online translator as a crutch. I know I am guilty of the latter more often than I care to admit, but I learn from my mistakes, and I’m trying to get better with just reading something rather than being lazy about it. Handy reference, but don’t over use it, or rely on it. My rating: ★★★☆☆

7.) Read Real Japanese – short stories compilation by contemporary writers such as Hiromi Kawakami, Otsuichi, Shinji Ishii, Banana Yoshimoto, Kaoru Kitamura, and Yoko Tawada.
This book is a little too advanced for me. I look at it every once in a while to see what words I can make out and understand. It’s basically a bunch of little stories written in Japanese (right to left, top to bottom style) that you read, and then after the Japanese page there is an explanation page where it tells you which sentence says what in English. I won’t rate this one, as I can’t read it yet. But I’m sure once I  can it will be a great practice resource. My rating: ✖

8.) Kana de Manga: Japanese Sound FX!
This book I got just for fun. It’s a tiny thin little book that just has sound effects in it, and onomatopoeia. Such as 「オロオロ」(oro-oro) is kind of a sound that happens when you make a mistake. Or 「ドキドキ」(doki-doki) is the sound your heart makes when it beats really loudly. It has animal sounds, human sounds, mechanical sounds, etc. This book really isn’t necessary, but it’s fun to have. My rating: ★★☆☆☆

9.) Basic Connections: Making Your Japanese flow – Kakuko Shoji
I got this book, and to be 100% honest I totally forgot I had it in my library. “This book is to help provide information on Japanese expressions and usages that facilitate the flow of ideas and thought in written and spoken Japanese”. That is a quote from the introduction. You cannot use this book though if you don’t know enough Japanese to read basic sentences, or even intermediate sentences. It has exercises, and reading excerpts in it too. Really neat book, but as I haven’t used it, I’m not going to provide a rating. If I had to assign a “ghost rating” or how I THINK it would be, just from the little I’ve looked at it, I would probably say it would be 4/5 stars. But for now, it gets an X, or n/a. My Rating: ✖

10.) All About Particles: a Handbook of Japanese Function Words – Naoko Chino
Here is another great book I forgot I had. If you have any knowledge of Japanese you know that particles (those little kana that mark things in the sentence, for example 「を」 is the direct object marker) can be confusing. Especially if there is more than one way of stating something, using different particles. This book is PURELY particles and how/when to use them. I’m sure I would get SO much out of this book, if I had remembered I had it. Haha! So no rating for this one, although I’m sure it’s a fantastic reference. My rating: ✖

11.) Essential Kanji – P.G. O’Neill
This is almost exactly like that “Guide to Reading and Writing Japanese” book, except it has a TON more kanji in it, and they are printed a lot smaller. It shows numbered stroke order, and meaning, and readings and all of that. Basically same book – more information added – smaller package. I don’t use this book really, at first I tried but it was difficult to search for things. My rating: ★☆☆☆☆

12.) Japanese Grammar – 2nd edition – Carol and Nobuo Akiyama
This book is okay… but I’m not a huge fan. It’s ALL in Romaji, no kana, no kanji. I have problems visualizing things when it’s not just written as it should be. Okay reference for grammar, but not my pick unless I absolutely had no other choice. I might use it for the verb charts but that’s it. My rating: ★☆☆☆☆

So there you have it. There are a few other books I have that I didn’t bother listing, but they are really more cultural books than language books.  :) Thanks for reading! Coming up in the next post: websites and other tools! ありがとうございました。


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