Why An American Novelist Reads Manga…

I mentioned in my chart on Me, Sleep, Caffiene, and Writing that I read Manga, and that I’d write more about that later. Well here it is!

Yes, I confess, I read manga. If you don’t know what that is, they are comics from Japan and sometimes Korea. They are posted on lots of sites online and also are the basis for Anime. These comics are not all written for children. A great number of them are written for teens and adults, and there are even labels for the age/sex group they are written for. (Shoujou = girls, Shounen = boys, Josei = women, and Seinen = men)

No, I’m not a high-schooler dressing up in bizarre outfits in public. I am a boring, slightly odd homemaker reading Manga in my spare (hehe) time.

I think it has been a big boost for my writing and here is why:

  1. It is free. (Yep. Cheap-o alert!) Surprisingly, I don’t have wads of money to spend on books and the library, though it is free, often has a waitlist for ebooks. Yeah. Cause that makes sense… Anyway, many Manga are free because they are scanned and translated in the US by people who love them and want them to be available here. Many aren’t yet (or ever) licensed here in the US, so this is 100% legal. There are scads of websites and apps devoted to reading these free “scanlations” (scan + translation).
  2. Quality varies. All the work is done by amateurs and often people for whom English is not their first language.  This is actually good because it sharpens my skills regarding what is wrong and why. If grammar is bad, or sentences don’t make sense, I can correct them in my own mind to cement what not to do myself. If they are too indecipherable, I skip them, but overall they are mostly readable.
  3. The format of Manga consolidates a single or very few ideas in the story. These aren’t classic novels here. They are cranked out by the thousands and usually center around a single concept. Often these concepts are bizarre and seem mismatched, but that adds to the interest and creativity in connecting them. Seeing these ideas highlighted is a great way to learn more about them.
  4. The ideas are universal. Marc (my hubby) and I talk a lot about universal themes. Most writing employs them and Manga are no exception. The fact that they come from an entirely different culture emphasizes that fact. Japan is a nation based on very different foundations from the Western world and yet many of the human struggles in the writing are basically the same.
  5. I’m learning a new culture. I suppose that I might not get an accurate view of American culture by reading comic books, but I do get some idea. The same goes for Manga. Also, Manga are more widely-read there than they are here and so they can write to a broader audience than we do. I absorb so much insight from their different attitude towards daily life as seen in their light literature.
  6. The light reading of simple stories fits with my busy life. I can read a manga chapter in 5 minutes and it is often just what my sleep-deprived and exhausted brain needs. I love stories–wild and imaginative stories. I can’t get them from magazines (ugh). Novels are often too much for my weakened mind to tackle, but I still hunger for the story. This is where Manga fit in perfectly.

So that’s why I read Manga, and why I think it enhances my writing!

If you’re interested in trying some Manga reading, there are tons of places online you can go to for them. There are also lots of apps for Android and Iphone that connect you directly to them! I’m using one called Pocket Manga right now.

Here are some Manga websites to be read online or downloaded:





Categories: Resources | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Why An American Novelist Reads Manga…

  1. quillwielder

    I want to double like this. I love manga and anime sooooo much. It just simply amazing to watch and read. Great post Kate

  2. As usual, a fun read! Your world is interesting and broadens mine.

  3. Pingback: What To Look For When You Read « Kate Policani

  4. Pingback: Review of Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 7.0 (by a compulsive reader) «

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