Genki, along with Minna no Nihongo, is one of the most popular Japanese textbook series around – and for good reason.
There are two volumes, and each of them has an accompanying workbook that you can buy. The main text will teach you reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, and more. The chapters are focused on a specific activity, e.g. going shopping, which helps you to immediately put the language in context. While not designed to align with JLPT or CEFR levels, studying both volumes should take you roughly up to A2/N4.
Genki is slightly more accessible than Minna no Nihongo: it uses English-language explanations and overall teaches less vocabulary and grammar, while still giving you a fairly decent introduction to the language.
That said, you’ll find Genki easier to use if you’ve already studied the kana. If you haven’t yet, don’t worry – it won’t take you long to master that with an app like Skritter (review) or LingoDeer (review).
In short, if you’re looking for something beginner-friendly with English explanations, or are just learning Japanese as a hobby, Genki is an ideal textbook. If you’re planning to move to Japan, however, or want to challenge yourself with a more comprehensive textbook, check out our review of the Minna no Nihongo series.