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Mar 10, 2011

Novel Introduction: 文学少女

Today I'm introducing (for the second time) the 文学少女 novel series. The first volume of this series was actually the first Japanese novel I ever completely read, so it's a nice place to start.

Title: 文学少女 (Bungaku Shoujo
Author: 野村 美月 (Nomura Mizuki
Difficulty: 2.5/5 (1 easy, 5 hard)
Format: 小説 (Novel

Genre: Mystery, Slice of Life

Plot: This novel series focuses on two students: Amano Tohko and Inoue Konoha, who are the only two members of their school's literature club. Amano Tohko is the titular 文学少女 (literature girl) who spends her days devouring literary works – they're literally the only thing she eats. She has taken a liking to the writings of her junior, Inoue Konoha, who now spends each afternoon writing a snack for her. In the first volume, this daily rhythm is interrupted when a ditzy, female student comes to the clubroom asking for help with writing a love letter. Tohko, who has a taste for romantic stories, cannot resist offering help. The intriguing mystery which follows catches everyone off guard.

Difficulty: As this is a novel, there will obviously be an increase in difficulty over a manga series. The lack of pictures (not counting the few illustrations that are sprinkled throughout) means that you'll be relying on your knowledge of Japanese to follow the story. Additionally, you'll find very little furigana in a novel. Luckily, this series is slice of life and largely set in a school, which means that you'll have a lot of experience with most of the vocabulary if you've been reading manga (as most manga have some connection to school life). The mystery element of the story will make things a bit more difficult though, because you'll need to be able to follow along during plot twists and the inevitable explanation scenes. But don't worry, you can do it.

To sum it all up, this series is a great one to start with. The large amount of content that is school based will make reading and understanding easier, which means it's beginner friendly. The story is also interesting, which is always a plus (no point in reading something that is boring). So if you're ready to take the leap to novels, give this one a shot.

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  1. Oh! Here's a book I actually have a physical copy of on my bookshelf. I peek at it every now and then but never try to seriously read it. I haven't looked at it for a while now, so I may use it to test my knowledge a little in the near future. Novels tend to be intimidating, even if they're just light novels.

  2. I think this is a great recommendation, as the stories in this series tend to hook you (therefore motivating you to finish) -- I couldn't put the first volume down and ended up finishing it in two sittings. I wish I had felt confident enough to tackle it earlier, as it ended up being a lot easier to read than I thought it would be.

    If you're just starting out with light novels though, sometimes a book with a 1/1 story/volume ratio can be intimidating (or frustrating) compared to something slightly more episodic. While certainly not as classy as Bungaku Shoujo (and appealing to a totally different audience), I found that the first few novels in the Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga nai series were structurally very friendly to a new reader -- each chapter was somewhat standalone, but usually contributed to a volume-level conclusion as well. I haven't read all that many light novels, but the early OreImo volumes were the only example I could think of that had both per-chapter and per-volume plot occurring.