My review of "Remembering the Kanji III" by James W. Heisig
"First, I'd like to note a couple of things:
(1) This book is no longer available in printed form on Amazon.com at this time. There are no doubt other places where you can buy this book in printed form, and there is always the option of a pdf/e-book version of this book available from the Nanzen institute website. This is merely a review of the product itself, not of Amazon's price or availability (or lack thereof).
(2) This book is intended for those that have finished both Remembering the Kanji volumes I and II. Chances are that most people reading this review have not done this; they are merely curious about what the advanced stages of this learning method are. If you've studied the first two books to their completion, this final book will be purchased regardless of what I say about it. The devotion one has at this point is stronger than anything I could possibly say to convince one otherwise.
What is this book? It is the third volume that expands on James Heisig's kanji-learning system (Which I would call "revolutionary," but I don't want this to sound too gimmicky). The first book tacked an English keyword onto all of the 2,000 kanji. The second book showed ways to remember readings of the kanji. By the time you finished both of these books (properly), you should know more than 2,000 characters, the basic number needed for a literate person in Japan. (I am at the level that I can read most what I would see in a newspaper, although I can recognize most all of the characters.) Once you are at this level, you now have free roam of many Japanese reading materials; the only obsticle you will encounter are kanji that aren't part of the joyou kanji and aren't part of the 2,000+ kanji you learned in the previous books in this series; and this is where book three comes in, as it expands your kanji knowledge by 1,000 new characters. And since only 1,000 new characters are treated in this third book (Compared to the 2,000 treated in the previous books), this allows enough space to cover all of the new kanji in the same manner as books one and two, except it is done in one volume. The first half of the book treats each kanji with a keyword; the second half covers the readings of the kanji.
The benefits are pretty straightforward, but if you've finished books one and two the benefits and feelings of self-accomplishment are deeper than simply a number. It's hard to describe, so let me use an example: Take the kanji for ant (It is pronounced "ari"); this is a kanji covered in this book. The only time you will see the kanji for "ant" is when you are referring to an ant and ONLY an ant (nothing more), but to actually know the kanji that corresponds to "ant" will give you an odd sense of accomplishment, one that you are no doubt be familiar with if you've attainted the degree of literacy given to you if you finish the first two books.
My point? You should be familiar with the sense of accomplishment you get when you study this writing system, and these benefits will continue through the pages of this book, as "gems" of kanji knowledge are given to you one after another. And when you complete this book (Which I have yet to do), your kanji knowledge does not stop. There are many more kanji that exist and are waiting to be learned by you, and this book sets you up to continue studying and to keep learning new kanji. Studying kanji is no longer a dread for me, I enjoy it; I enjoy learning new characters and expanding my knowledge; it has become a hobby that I don't want to stop.
So rather than thinking about this book as the "last book you'll ever need to read" about kanji, it can be one that starts you on an endless path of learning new characters to your hearts content.
For those that have traveled this particular path to study kanji, and have reached the level requiring another book to guide you deeper into the fabulous, frustrating, strange and beautiful world of kanji, be ready for rewards; not unusual rewards in your case (You're already familiar with what they are), but rewards that allow you to continue your endless and wonderful journey through this sea of these unique characters. If you choose to continue, hopefully you and I will meet someday in "kanji heaven," if such a place exists.
Any questions about this book or review? Feel free to ask me about it.