I'm finally done with "The Devotion of Suspect X", with the murder exposed, guilty parties behind bars and all the rest. It took almost ten months - much too long, really. I could have finished it much faster, I guess, but by the end I just wasn't all that interested in the story or the characters.
As I wrote already, the problem is that it's a standard murder mystery, meant as a quick, fun read on your commute or during a trip. It's meant as chewing gum for the grain for a few hours. The story is inconsistent, the characters are two-dimensional and poorly motivated and the mystery itself has lots of logical gaps. But these traits don't matter at all; you hardly notice them as you skim through the book.
But when you study a language you don't skim. You're not quick. Instead, you scrutinize every sentence for minutes at a time, looking for clues to the story, to the characters behaviour or simply to grasp the basic meaning. And a quick read like this is simply not written to withstand such close scrutiny. So even though Yougisha X was an easier book to read than Riyuu, it took almost as long, simply because the flaws in the book kept putting me off.
It's not a put-down on the author at all - the exact same is true for, say, Agatha Christie, Ellis Peters, Dan Brown, John Grisham and all the rest (I do like to think that PD James would perhaps hold up better). Their books are fun, but pretty much fall apart if you start thinking too much about the details (and Dan Brown, to be honest, doesn't even need much thinking; I gave up on his bestseller partway through, something I almost never do).
Anyway, the take home lesson is: if you're going to read a book slowly and in detail, you're better off picking a book that is intended to be read that way. Even if they are more difficult you end up having more fun, and probably learning more since you're not tempted to skip or skim.
My next book? I've already picked it, and I've even read a bit already. No, it's not another Miyabe Miyki. We actually bought "Mohouhan" (copycat killer); the problem is, it's a five volume series and according to Ritsuko (who has been reading them) they're just like Riyuu, with lots of characters, asides and detours that only vaguely connect with the main story. It is fun, apparently - Riyuu was fun too, after all - but five volumes worth means I'd be occupied with the series until about 2013, which is a little longer than I want to commit to any one book.
I'll write about the new book once I get started on it properly.