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KBL: Khatzumoto’s Book List, August 2008

[Update: The people have spoken! In addition to links, alternative purchase links to YesAsia have been added where available! These may be useful to those outside of Japan, since YesAsia offer free worldwide shipping. Sometimes the markup makes it so that it evens out, but at other times it is a better deal for overseas customers. As always, the proof shall be in your do-the-math pudding.]

Don’t you just hate how so many magazines these days date themselves like three years in the future? I remember when I lived in the UK in the late 1990s, PC World magazine would put out its January 2015 issue in like 1997.

Exaggeration is humorous.

So I’m going to buck the trend, darnit! This is information collected in the past, so it’s going to be back-dated and there’s nothing you can do to stop me except voice your opinion in comments. OK, here we go.


  • Format: Manga (Serialized), Paperback
  • Author: 空知 英秋/ SORACHI Hideaki
  • Furigana: YES!
  • Genre: Period Action Comedy Sci-Fi
  • Veracity: Fiction
  • Color: Black and white
  • Illustrations: it’s a manga, champ
  • Notes: Multi-volume series, publication ongoing, a classic in the making
  • Khatzumoto’s Komments: The Tokugawa Era. Twenty years have passed since the shogunate opened diplomatic contacts with extraterrestrials and passed the edict abolishing swords and, by extension, the samurai. But one samurai still holds out against the Roman invaders…Aaah, forget it! You just have to read it. Describing the set-up of Gintama in the hope of shedding light on its coolness is kind of like explaining Super Mario Bros. as “Italian plumbers jumping on mushrooms” or Cowboy Bebop as “space bounty hunters with jazz music”; it doesn’t quite do it justice. Anyway, both the manga and the anime own; it really is funny stuff. Loaded with characters you’ll wish existed for real, biting wit and parodic references to virtually every other manga, anime, drama or variety show ever produced in Japan, plenty of which you’ll know (Trick, Shonen Jump itself, and cetera!). Great jokes, great writing, great way to learn Japanese…Gintama will have you in stitches. While you’re at it, get the anime as well, for listening practice. Well, actually, just for plain enjoyment, but, you know — two organic clay pigeons, one free-range stone. ‘Tama is still in serialization (25+ volumes and counting), but unlike Dragon “We Own Your” Ball Z or One “Is the Number of Lifetimes You’ll Spend Buying This” Piece “…Of”, they’re actually worth getting.
  • [Alternative Link]

日本の論点2008/The Issues for Japan, 2008

  • Format: Annual Essay/Paper Collection, Paperback
  • Editor: Various Artists
  • Furigana: None
  • Genre: Politics, Economics, Science, Technology
  • Veracity: Non-fiction
  • Color: Black and white
  • Illustrations: pictures of every author, plus tables and diagrams on some but by no means all articles
  • Khatzumoto’s Komments: I hate the news. Haaaate the news. Vapid, inaccurate, biased sensationalism prepared by people who don’t know what they’re talking about but are acting as if they do. I stopped watching the news and reading newspapers a long time ago. But I still want to know what’s going on in the world. As soon as I saw this handsome paperback tome (it’s nearly 1000 pages long) at the train station, I knew I had to have it. Filled with essays (papers?) written by experts in their respective fields, often having wildly differing opinions on the same issue (minus simplistic Crossfire-style posturing for the sake of posturing). People who actually know what they’re talking about, debate, discuss and dissect in commercial-, spin- and (relatively speaking) brainwashing-free black and white text. No one pretending to be impartial, no one pretending to simply be giving an account of the facts; it’s got all the issues that are in daily newspapers — increasing pet ownership, relations with BRICs, the aging population — without the fluff and facade. This collection also boasts a number of papers by people who wrote the book on subject X, be it immigration or “parasite singles”.
  • Sidenote: The author bios and references to other works are perfect for follow-up. From the perspective of a learner, I’d say you’d do just as well getting a previous year’s issue if the price is right.
  • [Alternative Link]

中央公論/Chuuou Kouron

  • Format: Monthly Magazine, Paperback
  • Author: Various Artists
  • Furigana: None
  • Genre: Politics, Economics, Science, Technology
  • Veracity: Non-fiction
  • Color: Black and white
  • Illustrations: some, but not that many
  • Khatzumoto’s Komments: Another favorite of mine. Think of it as a monthly version of 日本の論点 (which is an annual collection). As you might expect from a more frequently published work, it’s slightly more prone to knee-jerky, alarmist, fadish discussion than 論点, but overall, still a worthy read. You might consider getting this one from your library if you can. Failing that, from a learner’s perspective, it may be worth buying a couple of issues if only because it’s much more portable than the 800+ pager that is 論点.

なんで時間がないんだ―やりたいことができる時間捻出法/ Why Don’t I Have Any Time? How To Make The Time To Do What You Want

  • Format: Single Book, Paperback
  • Author: 菅野結希/KANNO Yuuki
  • Furigana: None
  • Genre: Personal Development, Personal Organization
  • Veracity: Non-fiction
  • Color: Black and white
  • Illustrations: some funny little scribbly manga, but not that many
  • Khatzumoto’s Komments: One of my favorite PD books; I’ve read and re-read this one many times, and it’s been on heavy rotation in my manbag for weeks at a time. Kanno firmly locates the source of a good portion of time poverty in simple untidiness. And seeks to kindly, gently and humorously (you’ll love her style, and the way she suddenly breaks into new parapgraphs to emphasize something — a tool I copied, by the way) lead you to a saner, tidier lifestyle, without the OCD/type A/guilt-based/Victorian appeals to morality (“cleanliness is next to godliness, you ****ing wogs!”) that are typically associated with getting things in order. She makes you want to be neat, and makes you want to read her book and makes it feel good; no one’s scolding you. One of the most powerful and deceptively-simple-in-a-“didn’t everyone learn this as children?”-way pieces of advice she gives is this: “出したら、仕舞う” — if you take it out, put it back. It sounds almost stupid when you think about it…but how many adults do you know that have yet to master this? That mother of yours… 🙂
  • [Alternative Link]

どこへいくの?ともだちにあいに!/何処へ行くの?友達に会いに!/Where Are You Going? To See My Friend

  • Format: Picture Story Book (Ehon), Hardcover
  • Author: いわむら かずお/IWAMURA Kazuo, エリック・カール/Eric CARLE
  • Furigana: All hiragana, but no kanji 🙁
  • Genre: Children’s Books
  • Veracity: Fiction
  • Color: Yes
  • Illustrations: Tons, it’s a picture book!
  • Khatzumoto’s Komments: Wow. Writing these is tiring. Yeah, so, this is a straight up 絵本(えほん)– a (children’s) picture book. Um…yeah. It looks like it’s not actually a mere translation, but, in fact, a bilingual joint collabo venture between Iwamura and Carle. Sweet. I read this book back in the day; the repetition was really cool and firmly planted some really useful structures (“grammar”) in my mind. It’s so simple, in fact, that I never found it necessary to look at the English; everything is clear from context. The lack of kanji kind of sucks hard for RTKers like you and me — and it’s what kept me and 絵本 from seriously dating, but oh well…You know, to tell you the truth, I really want to write something like this, except with kanji. Dick and Jane was an attempt at that, but…I feel like it got too complicated. Oh yeah, this was supposed to be about someone else’s book. Anyway, it’s a good book. Buy or borrow it.
  • [Alternative Link]

マンガ金正日入門/A Manga Introduction to Kim Jong-Il

  • Format: Manga (2-volume series; this is only the first book), Paperback
  • Author: 李 友情 (著)/Ri Yuujou, 李 英和/Ri Eiwa (Translation)
  • Furigana: None 🙁
  • Genre: Politics, History, Biography
  • Veracity: Non-Fiction…かなぁ
  • Color: Black and white
  • Illustrations: it’s a manga, champ
  • Khatzumoto’s Komments: Mmm…due to the nature of the subject matter and information sources involved, you can never be sure that this kind of thing is entirely true. Early in the book, they attempt to insinuate that Kim Jong-Il/金正日 killed his little brother when they were like 6 years old…And they keep drawing Kim Il-Sung/金正成 with like this massive, hideous goitre action going on. Hmmm…mmmmm…I mean, at least try to fake some grounding in reality, son! This is the sort of thing that is later revealed to have been reverse propaganda — kind of like the borderline-fraudulent exaggeration of Soviet military capability by let’s just say people who hang out in five-sided buildings. Either way, it’s an enjoyable read, and potentially a fascinating history lesson. Sounds like a lot of drama went down on that Korean peninsula. Yeeah! Asia! トヨタ!寿司!
  • [Alternative Link]

サムライチャンプルー/Samurai Champloo [Vol. 1][Vol. 2]

  • Format: Manga (2-book series), Paperback
  • Author: ゴツボ マサル/Gotsubo Masaru
  • Furigana: Yes! Yes!
  • Genre: Hip-Hop Samurai Action
  • Veracity: Fiction
  • Color: Black and white
  • Illustrations: Um…manga?
  • Khatzumoto’s Komments: You already know that Samurai Champloo is one of the best anime ever. Now, enjoy the manga! There were only two volumes produced, but they have much of the anachronistic humor and sweeping, breathless action of the original. チェケラチョー (check it out, y’all!)

クレヨンしんちゃんヌパン4世&エンジェル編/Crayon Shinchan: Nupin the 4th’s Angels Edition

  • Format: Manga, Paperback
  • Author: 臼井義人/USUI Yoshito
  • Furigana: Yes
  • Genre: Humor
  • Veracity: Fiction
  • Color: Black and white
  • Illustrations: Um…manga?
  • Khatzumoto’s Komments: Crayon Shinchan is a living legend. Naughty humor for the peoples. And it’s especially good for kanjiphiles — imagine an irreverent, full-kanji, furiganaed children’s book — since we tend to skew ourselves toward reading abstract material if only because (1) that’s what much of the adult world is about and (2) kanji gives us that power. But words like うんこ and おしっこ are just as much a part of Japanese as 大胸筋矯正サポーター. So, Crayon Shinchan is like Shrek, in that it’s ostensibly “for children”, but the humor is really operating at two levels; it’s the kind of thing parents purport to purchase for their progeny but actually end up reading on their own. The regular Crayon is great to begin with, and this owns even more: it’s a special edition (one of several? are there more? I don’t know?) in which our titular hero keeps his toddler age and personality, but is taken out of his usual family context and put into spoof fantasy worlds loosely based on cultural icons like Lupin the Third, Charlie’s Angels and Jackie Chan movies. In one episode, “drunken fist kung fu” turns into “somniferous fist kung fu”, whereby “Shin Chan” becomes more powerful the sleepier he gets…yeah, there are tons of puns, and you’ll enjoy them all. And another thing! The humor is all basically self-contained, such that knowledge of the regular Crayon Shinchan is not a prerequisite. You’ll be laughing out loud in public, causing yourself both joy and embarrassment.
  • [Alternative Link]

【携帯版】思考は現実化する/Think and Grow Rich

  • Format: Single Book, Paperback
  • Author: ナポレオン=ヒル(著)、田中孝顯(訳)| Napoleon HILL (author), TANAKA Takaaki (translator)
  • Furigana: No
  • Genre: Pre-New Age/Hippy, Good, Old-Fashioned Personal Development 🙂
  • Veracity: Non-Fiction
  • Color: Black and white
  • Illustrations: None
  • Khatzumoto’s Komments: Yeah, this book needs no introduction, really. It’s one of the “classics” of the PD genre. Unlike classics in other fields, though, people actually read this one…of their own free will. Translator Tanaka had a bad habit of splitting this thing up into multiple volumes (print and grow rich?), and adding, I kid you not, MORE FOOTNOTES THAN ACTUAL BOOK…a single tome becomes a freaking trilogy but I’m not bitter. Friggin’…Anyway, so I’m mostly putting this thing up because it combines everything in one nice paperback as Nature intended! And I had a hardish time finding it. So here. I give. To you. Thank me later.
  • Sidenote: There is also a diagram-based (Japanese) version of TAGR that’s longer on pictures but kind of shallow and short on content; the most interesting thing about it is that it has this sort of “pedigree” of PD speakers/authors, showing who was whose direct sensei/disciple. Also, Hill didn’t actually write it; it’s more of a Cliff’s Notes prepared by the Asia Pacific HQ of the Hill Foundation. So, yeah…The version you most likely want is the main one previously discussed.
  • [Alternative Link]

OK, that’s it! Feel free to share your own recommendations, or requests for the kinds of books you(d like evaluated for next time. I figure a lot of people are wanting 敬語 and programming books, and I haven’t put those up here yet, so that might be the focus of the next edition of KBL (hey! sounds like “kibble”!). OK, see you next time!

  19 comments for “KBL: Khatzumoto’s Book List, August 2008

  1. vgambit
    September 18, 2008 at 06:36

    I appreciate the links to, but for people outside of Japan, it’s generally the most expensive place to get books from. You should post alternative purchase links for people who still live elsewhere.

    I mean, I’m all for buying through your referral links, but not if I have to pay 5 times the normal rate for shipping.

  2. Rob
    September 18, 2008 at 08:17

    Vgambit – are you in the US? If so, I can recommend using this site:

    Their book selection is impressive and the prices/shipping are reasonable. I bought three books from them recently and it only cost me around $35 including shipping. The only down side to them is they only ship within the United States and the shipping time is somewhat slow (my order took 2 1/2 weeks to arrive). But overall I was very satisfied.

    To Khatzumoto’s credit, posting alternative links for every book would be very time consuming, plus, as I’m sure the readers of this site are spread around the world, any alternative link posted may or may not be applicable depending on shipping policies.

  3. mark
    September 18, 2008 at 09:51


    Google is your friend.

    Khatz is spoon-feeding us all enough already (Thank you Khatz!). Do you want him to read the books for you as well too?

  4. September 18, 2008 at 11:38

    Ummm. Cool. I’ve taken your tv drama recommendations in the past and wasn’t lead astray, so I don’t expect to be lead astray with the books either—thanks!

    For anyone looking for a full-length novel entirely with furigana, check out 少年H. Even if your Kanji is good, it’s good to make sure you don’t permanently burn any mis-readings into your brain. Furigana is on the first instance of a word on a page, but further instances don’t have it—so you still gotta remember. Fair warning though: all dialogs are in dialect.

  5. nest0r
    September 18, 2008 at 13:22

    That Issues for Japan is something I’ll look forward to reading. I don’t care much for American politics, but I find Japanese politics very interesting.

    I wasn’t sure where else to ask this besides the RevTK forums, but anyone here know of an equivalent to Mangajin/Japanese the Manga Way, for French?

  6. Sandersmc
    September 18, 2008 at 16:07

    Thank you very much for this Khatz much appreciated mate, your bookshelf must big pretty large with an array of books that you read.

    Keep up the monthly update of what you are reading or interested in, as it is not going unappreciated

    Thank again

    Martin 🙂

  7. alex
    September 19, 2008 at 00:48

    We want alternative links to support Khatz with some financial monies, not because we cant find them on our own. If its too difficult and time consuming thats another thing, just a thought though.

  8. September 19, 2008 at 03:03

    Many thanks for this, um, extremely wide list of books. 🙂 You can’t go wrong with Crayon Shinchan, especially as (IIRC) the text is hand-written. Gotta get used to it sooner or later anyway.

  9. Sandersmc
    September 19, 2008 at 19:13

    Hey Khatz thought you might like this to compliment your book column that you have started writing

    Many Thanks


  10. Chiro-kun
    September 20, 2008 at 01:08


  11. Ken
    September 20, 2008 at 10:52

    Life saver! I was looking for a magazine to read in Japan!

  12. quendidil
    September 20, 2008 at 13:03

    i”d have to say デス・ノート is a really well thought out manga series too. The anime is great for around the first 23 episodes, and follows the manga dialogue closely, with some reordering of events, but is a bit messy after that.

    The 涼宮ハルヒ light novel series is not bad either; light novels IMO are the easiest step to reading after you find reading manga comfortable. 狼と香辛料 is good too.

    I like 時をかける少女 too; it isn’t really a light novel, it’s a kid’s novel really. It’s easy to read and not too boring, though I prefer the adapted anime.

  13. kochiragochira
    September 20, 2008 at 18:34

    Hey Khatz- post was truly “teh ossum” – just what the doctor ordered.
    Just wondering if anyone else here knows of a alternative that operates in the United Kingdom, well England specifically. Like most people have observed, amazon has obscene shipping charges-> -ve lolz.

  14. rich_f
    September 22, 2008 at 05:22

    For cheap books to the US, I prefer, because they have semi-sane shipping rates, and a point club. You can choose from EMS, Air, SAL, and Ground. (And there’s an in-Japan shipping option as well that’s pretty cheap.) No handling fees, either. And it even meets the AJATT requirement of being ruthlessly Japanese– there be no English on this site!

    Manga-wise, I like ハヤテのごとく because it’s a pretty easy read, furigana and all, and I also like the manga version of テレパシー少女蘭, because it also abounds with furigana, and doesn’t force me to hit the dictionary 10 times per sentence. I’d wager that the テレパシー少女蘭 novels are also a pretty easy read, since they’re also aimed at ~6年 reading level, but I haven’t had a chance to get them yet.

    I’d say they’re both good for ~ JLPT level 3+. So if you could nail level 3, but not quite get level 2, these should be somewhat easy to read– you’ll still have to look a lot of stuff up, but it won’t drag your reading speed down.

    My preferences for reading involve books that I can read with some looking-up of stuff, but not constant looking-up of stuff. There’s that fine line between reading for fun and making work out of fun, you know?

  15. Alyks
    October 17, 2008 at 10:52

    I would like to point out that the yesasia links for Samurai Champloo are for the Chinese editions (they don’t have it in Japanese). I didn’t pay attention and didn’t realize this until it arrived today =[.

  16. khatzumoto
    October 17, 2008 at 14:33

    My word! I hadn’t realized that…thank you and sorry!

  17. anonymous coward
    December 2, 2008 at 15:36

    I can’t believe you spell colour without the u ! 😉

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