"When people don't read books, it proves that they aren't lonely."
— Osamu Dazai, Nyozegamon
Solitary Reading (孤読, Kodoku) is the second chapter of the light novel Tokyo Ghoul: Past.
- Ken Kaneki's mother (Mentioned)
- Ken Kaneki
- Ken Kaneki's aunt
- Ken Kaneki's uncle (Mentioned)
- Yuuichi Asaoka (Mentioned)
- Ken Kaneki's father (Mentioned)
- Hideyoshi Nagachika
- Yuu (Mentioned)
- Osamu Dazai (Mentioned)
- Yūki Himura (Photo)
- Sen Takatsuki (Mentioned)
- Rize Kamishiro (Mentioned)
The story takes place at the time when Kaneki was still a high school sophomore and when he was living with his Aunt.
First Part Edit
Ken Kaneki wakes up early in the morning when his alarm rings. The house, the home of the Asaoka family, still seems to be sleeping. He quickly gets ready to leave, and sighs in relief whenever he doesn't meet anyone else.
Just when he wears his school uniform and selects his favorite book from the bookshelf, the house becomes noisy: His aunt has woken up and is preparing breakfast, and he hears her voice urging the others to wake up. Kaneki leaves his room and even though there is still a lot of time until school starts, he intends to go to school. When he sneaks past the kitchen, going as far as holding his breath, he sees his aunt and three prepared meals inside. None of the meals are meant for him.
As he is putting on his shoes at the entrance, he hears his aunt complaining that the others still haven't woken up. While his aunt enters the hallway, Kaneki involuntarily looks back, and their eyes meet. Kaneki's body stiffens, but his aunt turns away and fades into the back of the house to wake up Yuuichi Asaoka. Kaneki hastily leaves, treading on the heels of his shoes.
He arrives first in the classroom, opens the window, eats the bread he bought at a convenience store and begins to read a book that was once owned by his father. When suddenly a strong wind from the window turns the page, he realizes that his classmates came without him noticing. Kaneki feels oppressed by the cheerful atmosphere.
Hide calls out to Kaneki and runs to his place with a magazine in his hands, his school bag still on his back. Hide is totally excited that the new CD of his favorite artist will be released next weekend. Hide presses a women's fashion magazine against Kaneki's face. It contains a disappointingly small special about the artist.
Hide plans to buy the new CD on the release date in 20th ward's shopping district (since he intends to get a limited poster) and invites Kaneki to come with him. Kaneki accepts gladly, since he wants to get away from the Asaoka home. He just had to deal with his aunt's cold attitude this morning.
Hide notices Kaneki's reaction and asks him if something happened. Kaneki is stunned, feels uncomfortable and answers "Nothing" while rubbing his chin. Hide accepts Kaneki's answer. For Kaneki to prepare himself for the weekend, he pulls out another magazine and gives it to Kaneki.
At that moment, class begins. Kaneki didn't notice that so much time had passed. He remembers a phrase from Osamu Dazai's Nyozegamon: "When people don't read books, it proves that they aren't lonely." Kaneki feels that it reveals why he is reading books. But books are Kaneki's food that allows him to live and he has his irreplaceable friend.
Kaneki intends to read the magazine that Hide gave him until the weekend.
After school, Hide pulls Kaneki with him into a fast food restaurant to talk about his artist, but they end up mostly talking about trivial things.
After it had gotten dark, Kaneki went home late. Kaneki tenses up before the door and hits his chest to calm down. When he opens it, he hears the television in the living room. He quickly walks in the direction of his room, but stops as the refrigerator in the kitchen catches his eye. The refrigerator was bought with his money. He remembers how his mother worked without rest because she was pressured by his aunt and how she died due to overwork. In contrast, his aunt had quit her job. He had thought that his aunt had also a hard life, but the reality was different. She had a big house, a large TV and a spacious sofa. The refrigerator was filled with food. She had lived much better than he and his mother.
Kaneki suppresses the feelings that are welling up in him, remembering his mother's words: "Rather than a person that hurts others, become a person that gets hurt."
He realizes that his aunt is standing there. Involuntarily, he makes a few steps back. She found Kaneki as she went from the living to the bath room. Caught by her, he is desperately looking for a topic to talk with her. He remembers Hide. He summons up all his courage and informs his aunt that he will go out a bit this weekend together with Hide, but she starts to walk away fast before he is done talking. As if she is looking at filth, she spits out that he bothers her with such trivial information, exactly like her sister. Kaneki is left behind motionless and hurt.
Second Part Edit
The next weekend, Hide and Kaneki meet up to go to the shopping district. Hide asks Kaneki if he has read the magazine, confirms. In return, Kaneki asks Hide if he should return the magazine today, but Hide declines since that magazine is really heavy. Kaneki, having expected that answer, did not bring the magazine.
Kaneki and Hide go to the music shop. Hide becomes totally excited when he finds the CD and the poster. Kaneki is envious of Hide who can show his feelings so openly.
Hide declares that he wants to open the CD case immediately, he can't wait any longer. Hide, whining like a kid, drags Kaneki into a coffee shop and immediately begins to open the CD case. Hide takes out the lyrics booklet and begins to read the English lyrics. Hide is quite good at English, since he started to learn it because he didn't understand the English lyrics. While Hide is reading, Kaneki takes out a paperback and begins to read.
In the background, the TV is running. The topic in the news is a ghoul incident in some ward. Kaneki thinks it would be better if these dangerous creatures would disappear. Hide says that maybe every night, hundred-meter long ghouls are fighting humanity's giant robots. Kaneki answers that Hide watched too many movies. Hide, pouting, asks if there are monsters in Sen Takatsuki's books. However, Kaneki explains that Takatsuki writes vividly about humans' ugliness, and even if they are called monsters, they aren't. Hide interrupts him. Kaneki recommends that Hide should also read books, but Hide retorts that mangas are better. Hide was once so fond of a manga that he began to cry like a waterfall when he accidentally threw that manga away. Kaneki wants to know more, but Hide doesn't want to to talk about this topic.
Meanwhile, the anchorman reads out that the Binge Eater ghoul might be connected to the case. Kaneki thinks ghouls are a dreadful existence.
When they are returning, Hide accompanies Kaneki to the Asaoka home to get his magazine. On the way back, Hide asks whether Kaneki even memorized the magazine, since he seemed to be tired this week. Kaneki is taken aback. The cause wasn't him memorizing the magazine, but rather his aunt ignoring him and a depressed feeling that lingered within him. Hide continued that Kaneki should relax a bit more. Kaneki, playing along, says that Hide is right, and somehow, he is feeling less tired.
While Hide waits outside, Kaneki enters the house. Unexpectedly, his aunt comes from the living room and greets him with "welcome home". Kaneki, puzzled, answers "I'm home". His aunt tells him that she tidied his room and returns to the living room. Kaneki, even more perplexed now, heads to his room. A hope that his aunt wants to change her attitude towards him begins to well up in him.
As Kaneki opens the door of his room, he freezes. His bookshelf, where he had stored all the books he loves, was empty. Kaneki trembles and sweat begins to drip. Asking "why?", he searches his room for the books, for naught. Remembering the words of his aunt, he runs to the living room and asks her, stuttering, what happened with his books. While watching TV, she answers that she disposed of them: A magazine protruded from his room, so she cleaned it, and he just had too many books. Kaneki tells her that the books are precious to him, but she just responds with a half-hearted "sorry". Kaneki gives up and feels like crying.
- The kana reading of the chapter title, kodoku, also has the meaning "loneliness."