Studying by reading

I am not usually the kind of person to look up every unknown word as I read in Japanese, but as I am reading フランス人は10着しか服を持たない I have found myself looking up and jotting down words here and there, sometimes to get the correct reading so that I may remember it seeing as a word appears several times throughout a chapter, or to get the meaning. Maybe it’s easier to do this with this book precisely because it is not a novel, thus stopping to look up words doesn’t ruin the reading flow as much as it would have if it was.

Exposing my terrible handwriting, don’t judge me too harshly

I have not studied ‘properly’ this year at all. I took the JLPT in December of last year (feels like a century ago), and after failing the N1 for a second time I lost all motivation to sit down with textbooks. I didn’t much enjoy N1 materials anyway so I haven’t been able to force myself back into it.

But I have read several books, in Japanese, and while I might not have been studying the ‘traditional’ way of looking up words/grammar, writing them down, making flashcards, quizzing myself, etc., after years of making flashcards and never using them I believe I am better suited to remember these things by repeated exposure in more natural settings, i.e. by reading books. By seeing the kanjis for train stations everyday I am able to remember their reading. Same with people’s names, buttons on websites, tags on instagram, buzzwords in advertising, blog posts on topics I am interested in. By seeing the words over and over in their natural habitat so to speak, I can (hypothetically) recall their meaning or reading even if I were to be exposed to them in a new or different place.

The first two pages of the first novel I tried to read in Japanese (during my year abroad at the university) looked like this:

From 世界から猫が消えたなら by 川村元気

It was so full of words I didn’t know the meaning of, or reading of, or both. It was so disheartening and took out all the fun of reading, it wasn’t even reading anymore, just working. There was so much work trying to write the kanji correctly into the electronic dictionary so it would recognize it and give me the meaning. I stopped “reading” a couple of pages later and didn’t pick it up again until over a year later. And when I did pick it up again I swore to not suck all the fun out by relying on the dictionary and so I didn’t. I did my best to read and understand from context, and I enjoyed the story immensely.

This formed a habit of not using a dictionary when reading that still continues today. Rarely will I stop to look up words when reading novels. Does that mean I can now read and understand every kanji and every word and every grammar point? Not at all. But there is no pressure to either. I read for my own enjoyment. I know kind of what most means and if I don’t know the exact reading or meaning I don’t sweat it, I will just input the meaning or feeling of a word in whichever language I feel I understand it in.

I am hoping to one day take and pass the N1. I have no immediate use for it and so the need to study seriously is not there as of now. While I would want to believe that by reading and enjoying books as I am now, I will accumulate the knowledge required to pass, I know it is not so. But until the need arises for me to have the N1, I will continue my studying in the way I like; slowly and comfortably with my beloved books.

Morning bliss

Mornings where I don’t have an alarm on are few and far between. Even on Sundays when I don’t have work I feel the need to have on alarm as to not somehow waste the day.

But this Sunday I decided not to. There was no piano class either so I didn’t have to think about that. I had a lovely bath the night before, put on a new set of pajamas and then I slept for as long as I wanted. I woke up feeling relaxed, I even spent an extra hour, awake, in bed.

I didn’t get out of bed before it was already eleven and I only did so to get the cat and get back into the bed.

Yesterday my order of matcha had come in, so I made a cup of matcha latte (from scratch! No starbucks sachets today) and sat down with a new book; Lessons from Madame Chic or フランス人は10着しか服を持たない by Jennifer L. Scott.

I like these kinds of books, they always inspire me to be better (not for forever unfortunately, I am but a fickle creature)

A cup of matcha latte in one hand, a book in front of me, and my darling Darjeeling by my other hand.

I am getting closer to my perfect image of autumn, I am just missing a chair, colder weather, and a classic.

How are everyone’s Sunday mornings like?

Japanese hardcover of Little Women aka one of the most beautiful Japanese books I have seen so far

I intended for this blog to be a place of writing, but some times words don’t cut it.

For instance; in the event that you find a beautiful Japanese hardcover of Little Women

If you think I was able to leave it at the bookstore you are sorely mistaken. I might have deprived a Japanese person of the wonder of Little Women and for that I am sorry, but this book was meant to go home with me.

After Kuri’s post on book covers in Japan you might wonder why I have one, but it was solely to protect this beauty until we got home.

Not once, but twice I was soaked to the bone getting off the bus and being caught in a torrential downpour before I was back home safe and sound with my copy still untarnished

I am in love with the cover, even the back of the book has a dear little illustration!

I want to dive into this at once, at the same time as I am apprehensive regarding whether I will be able to read it in a satisfactory manner. Considering the age of this work I am afraid that they might use older words and phrases with which I will not be familiar with.

The glorious index page featuring all the sisters at work

From the little front flap:

メグ、ジョー、ベス、エイミー。

世界でもっとも愛されている四姉妹のかけがえがない、

しあわせな日々へようこそ。

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy. Welcome to the joyful days of the irreplaceable and most beloved four sisters in the world.

But since it is a book for readers both young and old, there seems to be plenty of furigana for the younger ones (or for us struggling foreigners, I thank thee) so it might not be too bad, and as I am more than familiar with the plot I do believe that I might not get too lost after all.

I am unable to get over how pretty this is.

I will probably update on the progress of reading it, but I make no promises on when that will be. For now, just enjoy the beauty of it.

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