Learning to read Japanese is a little like running a marathon: it is a long, drawn out process, and it can get a little boring along the way. What we learners of Japanese need is a little fun now and then, something that brings a smile to our faces. As luck would have it, this book does just that. This magic trick is accomplished by the book's nine curious stories. Taken from the weekly magazine "Shukan Asahi," these stories, while true to life, verge on the hard to believe, and that's what evokes the magic element of fun. But that's not all. Each story is accompanied by a translation, faithfully done and easy to follow. Then, sentence by sentence, follows a short gloss of each word and phrase, a reverse derivation of each declined verb and adjective, detailed notes on vocabulary and grammar, and information and commentary on the cultural background. All of these aids can be accessed easily when needed. "Reading Japanese with a Smile: Nine Stories from a Japanese Weekly Magazine for Intermediate Learners" represents the best of two worlds -- stories that are both fully annotated and enjoyable to read.Eight of the nine stories in this book were first published under the title "Strange but True" in 1997.