readkanjitodayI picked up Len Walsh’s Read Japanese Today in the bookstore on a whim one day. I loved his historical approach to learing kanji. He goes into the history of how each character was written in China and how it evolved to its current form. This really gives you a good way to remember each kanji. Not just a simple mnemonic but the history and evolution of the kanji which is rooted in the actual depiction so it helps you remember how to write it too.

japanesethemangawayI have been reading Japanese the Manga Way by Wayne Lammers recently. Lammers uses a wide variety of manga to illustrate the topics under discussion. He also uses the four line method of translation which I prefer.  The four line method is to give the kana/kanji original on the first line, then the romaji phonetics on the second line, then the direct english translation on the third, then the correct and proper english on the fourth line. The manga comics also supplement the topics very well; giving good examples to explain the topics at hand. It is hard for the typical westerner to grasp the politeness levels in Japanese (choices of words changes based on the relationship between the speaker and the listener which can imply a lot in terms of the story, understanding it is a must).