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Pachinko
PachinkoAmrithaS (1)
Shattered My World!

I knew Pachinko would become one of my favorite books of all time from the very first chapter. Min Jin Lee is so gifted. The story captivated me and carried me away to another world that we all know so little about. Every character was well thought out and beautifully formed as the book progressed. Their struggles of living in Japan colonized Korea to not having a sense of belonging in Japan were heartbreaking. I cried so much reading this book. My husband was genuinely concerned about my wellbeing as I displayed a tumultuous array of emotions while reading it. I also took an unusually long time to finish it because I did not want it to end. But when I did complete it, I felt a sense of peace and calm wash over me. As an immigrant myself, I am so lucky to have a good life and not live in a perpetual state of identity crisis. It made me appreciate what I have and made me ask important questions about what I hold important in my life and what my priorities are. This book shattered my world and oh so gently picked up the pieces and put them all back together.

JulieThole (1)
great review! I totally agree. I was very emotional too while reading -- lots of tears. Such a beautifully written story. :)
Pachinkogabriellew (6)
More recommendations?

I picked up Pachinko for my April box because of all of the great reviews on here and it rocked my world. It's now one of my favorite books of this year and probably of all time. But I'm having a hard time reading other books after because I just want to keep reading it. Does anyone have suggestions for other books for people who loved Pachinko?

Kelley (1)
You should check out Homegoing by Yaa gyasi. It's another book that spans generations and it's absolutely amazing!
Hannah (33)
I just ordered Homegoing because the author is coming to my university next month. Excited to hear that it's great!
Natasha (35)
A Gentleman in Moscow
BeckyF (11)
Definitely A Gentleman in Moscow. I read that one right before I read Pachinko, and I'm very pleased with both books. I was a little unsure of my BOTM books before I read these two.
Natasha (35)
I want to read Rules of Civility, but I am afraid that it won't live up to A Gentleman in Moscow. The Tiger's Wife is also a beautiful book that I would recommend. Gorgeous novel.
PachinkoJenONeal (30)
Favorite book of 2017

I finished this book 2 months ago and I don't think a day has gone by that I haven't thought of it. We still have so much of 2017 yet but I'm almost certain that this is going to be my favorite read of the year.

PachinkoMellissaHodgson (9)
Eye Opening

I really liked reading the book Pachinko. I'm new to BOTM and it was a great first book to be introduced too. I love how the author goes through at least small tidbits of each characters life even if we only read about them for a couple of pages. I found myself pulling for one character and then something unexpected would happen that would make me change my whole perspective about that character and cheer for the opposite person. This was one of those stories that you didn't want to put down and when you did all you were thinking about was when the next time would be that you would be able to continue reading. I'm glad the author did research on the war in Korea because it helped the reader to feel like about of that world and sympathize with the characters in the book. Definitely a good read and I would highly recommend it. I skipped March's BOTM because none of them sounded interesting but hopefully "The American War" for April's BOTM will be good!

Natasha (35)
I loved the war aspect of this novel. My dad spent a year living in Korea on military assignment when I was a kid, so it gave me some insight into the culture and political climate. Also, with North Korea in the news every day it is nice to add some perspective. You truly cannot understand the decisions made today if you do not understand the choices presented yesterday.
AshleyYounkman (9)
What did you think about American War?!
PachinkoAilynHunter (7)
My favorite!

I loved this book so much. From the first page I did not want to put it down. I loved the characters and felt like they were part of my family as I read this book. Even weeks after finishing the book I think about the characters. I think this story would make a great movie. I was sad as the story came to an end. Great book!

LindsayChristianG (9)
I loved this book too!!!! When I first opened the box, I thought "That's a lot of pages for having very small print." But when I was towards the end, I didn't want it to end. I loved the depth of description of each character. Noa's storyline rocked me.
Natasha (35)
I thought the same thing. Small font is a killer!
PachinkoTKKKKB (31)
A Favorite

I got a few books this month and I'm 2/3 of the way through Pachinko and I had to jump on here and say that this book is everything I hoped it would be and a lot more.

I'm a guy who loves crime/detective books, but every once in a while I like to throw in a good fiction novel - just a plain old good story. Pachinko is exactly what I was looking for. It's humble, intelligent, well crafted, heartfelt, and so many other things. I cannot wait to pass this along to my wife. Great choice!

lauren (13)
I feel the same way! I tend to go for the crime/detective books as well. I was tempted to choose Exit West this month in hopes of a similar experience but I'm worried I'll be disappointed after reading Pachinko.
AshleyYounkman (9)
I'm wishing I chose Pachinko instead of Exit West, that book was so disappointing.
SOlivas (1)
I loved Pachinko- it was so detailed and beautiful. I'm on chapter 4 of Exit West (of only 12 chapters), and so far it is no where near a similar experience:(. I hope it gets better!
lauren (13)
Aw I'm sorry to hear that! I bit the bullet and added Exit West and have yet to start it. Hopefully it turns around!
TKKKKB (31)
I felt the same way when I saw Exit West and after reading reviews on Goodreads I decided to give it a shot. It's in my March box along with A Stranger in the Woods.
AshleyYounkman (9)
Don't get Exit West! It fell so short.
Elise (27)
I wish I had heeded this warning! I completely agree. April is a new month, looking forward to some new reads.
TKKKKB (31)
Wow, I know. I thought it was poorly written and I did not like it at all.
Elise (27)
Pachinko was my Feb pick and Exit West and A stranger in the Woods are my March pics as well. I'm really impressed so far with BOTM's variety. Pachinko blew me away.
Jen (5)
Have you read The Nightingale? You may enjoy that one. It is another historical fiction book and it left me thinking about it for days also. Just like Pachinko, I felt wrapped up in the characters.
AshleyYounkman (9)
You comparing this to The Nightingale cemented my choice to get this book. That is an incredible book that I'll remember for a lifetime!
Elise (27)
I will have to check this out! I have heard a lot of good things about it, thanks for the recommendation!
maryjane (1)
Loved Pachinko, which I just finished. The setting in Korea and Japan in the 20th Century and the tale of Koreans sort of living in Japan is just fascinating. The characters and their struggles, pathos, triumphs and joys are gripping. Also loved Noa's story. Wished the stories kept going on and on.
PachinkoPeggy (6)
Great Book

I very much enjoyed this book and found it interesting that the author has carried this story for 30 years and went to such great lengths to give the story justice (as noted in her acknowledgements at the end). Much credit for giving this segment of history a voice. It's so sad to see people have to accept less and accept circumstances that are unfair and cruel. I found Sunja's mother's deathbed lecture heartbreaking and Noa's tragic end. So much to think about. Good choice BOM.

PachinkoGailLordi (1)
Blown Away

Everything about this book was stunningly beautiful, from the heartbreak and sad truths of life to watching a dysfunctional family of good people make the best of what they're given in a cruel world. I cried more than once and lost myself entirely into this book. After reading this I feel like I can walk away with an amazing story and a new perspective on history as well. If you haven't read it please do- the pages practically turn themselves.

Diana (6)
I'm thinking of adding this book to my box next month but the length of it is so intimidating! Would you say the book is compelling in the traditional sense or is it a book you need a long weekend with little distractions to really sink into? Are there long slow sections that takes a bit of patience to get past?
LauraC (20)
It is engaging and easy to read, but I found that I wanted to go slow on purpose. I didn't get bored ever, rather I just wanted time to savor the moment I was in in time, since it spanned such a long sweep of history.
Chelseapegram01 (8)
I added Pachinko to my April box because I saw so many great reviews. Laura - your comment here was exactly how I felt. It was so good, that I just wanted to keep reading and reading. But on the other hand, I didn't want the book to go by too quickly, since it was so good! Really loved this story. Connected with the characters, even the flawed ones.
TKKKKB (31)
I, too, am usually intimidated by longer books. At a store or library I tend to avoid them and gravitate toward the quick kills. I always assume there will be a few dry spots, repetition, I'm skimming, and so on. Not the case with Pachinko. It could be a thousand pages and I wouldn't mind - it's that good.
ACB (1)
It looks long but it is super engaging and a fairly easy read - don't worry!
Peggy (6)
The book was entertaining, engaging and the print to page ratio was comfortable. The book did not seem long at all. Hope you read and will be interested in your thoughts!
Diana (6)
Thanks everyone! I've heard nothing but positive things about the book, and I think I will give it a try!
ElaineAlbaugh (4)
I wasn't daunted by the length at all. I felt such a connection to the characters that I could put the book down at any point and pick it up again and remember everything that happened. I feel like I'll remember the characters in this book for years. I loved it!!
FernJ (10)
This was the best book I've read in a while. It was engaging to me right from the start and the 450 pages flew by all too quickly. Please give it a try, Diana, if you like sweeping historical novels.
CarolineGriffis (1)
I'd say you wouldn't want to be around anyone. I read this book in class with everyone screaming around me and couldn't find myself enjoying it, but when I got home and was relaxed I became connected with the book.
eerupps (3)
I was intimidated by the length at first as well, but I really got into the story. I also find that the length of the chapters help to break it up and moved it along quickly. It's a very worthwhile read. It was obvious to me the care that this author took to make her story perfect.
PachinkoKristenRains (2)
loved.

I feel so sad to be done with this book. I don't even know what to say. I'm still taking in the whole story. Of family.. immigration.. xenophobia.. the painful reality that context changes but little else. A beautiful, beautiful story that introduced me to the treatment of Koreans in Japan, something I had not known much about. Please become a movie.

TW (2)
I feel exactly the same way. I thought it was going to take me a long time to read it, but it went by quickly, and I wasn't ready for it to end. I finished last week, but I'm waiting to start a new book for the same reason, I feel like I still need time to process it all. There are so many layers and so many characters to think about. Definitely something I could read more than once.
Chelseapegram01 (8)
Definitely agree with you, TW! The story is staying in my mind!
PachinkoHayleyStenger (13)
Interesting Read

I really enjoyed this book. I feel the themes are timeless, relevant and cross-cultural. I know the history of Korea and I know it of Japan, but I have never considered it from the perspective of both cultures and a enjoyed a personal viewpoint. I really enjoyed going more in depth. I also felt a lot of empathy for the characters described.

PachinkoFernJ (10)
Did Solomon End Up in the Best Place?

I have mixed feelings about Solomon's decision to work in his father's pachinko business. Given his education and the opportunity to rise above the discrimination, I was a bit disappointed that he chose to continue to work in one of the few businesses that Koreans were allowed to own in Japan. On the other hand, I think he made the decision freely (after he was fired, that is), realizing how important his family is to him. So, on balance, I think he ended up in the right place for him. Does anyone else have any thoughts on this?

Chelseapegram01 (8)
I think it ties back to the title of the story. Like in the game Pachinko, the characters bounce around as they follow different paths, but they end up at the same place -- family.
JenONeal (30)
Personally, I felt that Solomon's story had the perfect conclusion. The book circled around the rootedness of family. No matter where life takes an individual, the family and their history is omnipresent. Sometimes that's bad (Noa) or good (Sunja feeling loved by her father always) but more often it's more complex than that. Further, the Baek family has always been a practical, realistic family. I thought Solomon's decision to follow in his father's footsteps was both him admitting to the reality of his situation (being ethnically Korean in Japan) and resisting against it (he can be a good man in pachinko, not a yakuza).
LauraC (20)
I think this is exactly right. I felt he forced himself to go to America and get his education because his father wanted it so badly for him. However, in his heart he always wanted to go home. Plus, he never fully got over Hana. Phoebe was always a stop gap measure. At last he is home and Hana is gone. Now, he can begin again.
Jessica (7)
I think the discrimination wasn't as big of a deal to Solomon because he wasnt exposed to it consistently. He was aware of it and when it did effect him, he went home where he was loved and respected. He could create his own reality working with his dad and surround himself with like minded individuals.
Elise (27)
I think he ended up in the right place under the circumstances after he was fired. He knew when Phoebe was having issues adjusting to life in Japan that they weren't meant for each other, so there was no way he would live and work in America where opportunities would have been great for him. He knew right where he wanted to live. I think part of that for him was the pachinko business being a sense of home, following in the footsteps of his father.
FernJ (10)
I agree with that. It's the mark of an exceptional book that I'm still thinking about the characters weeks after I finished it.
PachinkoFernJ (10)
A Poignant and Timeless History Lesson

I absolutely loved this book! I didn't know much about the plight of Koreans living in Japan, and the stories, struggles, and resiliency of this family captured my heart. The years almost seemed to jump too quickly in the book's second half, but I suppose Ms. Lee wanted to keep it under 1000 pages! This is my first BOM and what a great way to start!

AZlah (8)
I too loved this book and didn't want it to end. And I totally agree with you that the 2nd half moved too quickly and I felt like I wanted to know more about the characters and their lives but it was wrapped up too quickly. I thought the story could have been made into a series of the various generations.
FernJ (10)
Absolutely! And it's still my favorite BOM all these months later...
PachinkoElise (27)
I feel like a time traveler

8 decades of life crammed into one novel. I had to pause for bit afterwards just to remember what year it was....oh yeah, it's 2017. And I'm not in Japan. But it took awhile...a few minutes at least to realize this. I think that's the sign of a really good novel. Complete escapism. I've finished this lovely book and can't wait to hear what everyone else has to think about it! Would love to hear thoughts and discuss.

Jen (5)
I loved the book but there is one thing that bothers me. What was the point of Ayame's findings if no more storyline is dedicated to that? Though it was an interesting scene, it is also pointless for me.
Elise (27)
I agree. It led nowhere, even with Haruki. There wasn't much closure with that one. There were a few chapters towards the end that lingered on certain characters too much, characters that didn't really feed to the main story line. Ayame was focused a bit too much. I also thought the relationship between Etsuko and Hana took up a lot of time and I would rather have learned what happened to Noa's wife and children.
Jen (5)
I also feel that once Isak was gone, Noah did not form close relationships with anyone. Yoseb had even changed, which also changed his relatioship with Noa. It stated that he never let anyone close to him after Akiko. However, I think those walls started long before she came into the picture.
Jen (5)
I was o.k. with assuming things about Noa's wife and children. I figured since they never knew his true blood, they just moved on with their lives. Of course the stigma of Noa's actions would follow them. I think I just couldn't get attached to his kids because I didn't like how he decided to handle the truth of his father. Maybe I would have liked to have seen how he handled his relationship with his children. Hana did annoy me, even at her end. What she did was the best thing for Solomon and I am glad she did that.
Jessica (7)
I thought the mystery of what happned to Noa's family was appropriate since it was a mystery to the Korean family that we were reading about.
Isa (1)
I liked the Etsuko and Hana storyline. I think that it worked out well as a good parallel to Sunja and Noa's relationship, as it showed how "disgrace" could make well-off Japanese feel as worthless as the stigmatized Koreans felt. Noa's tragedy was as self-inflicted as Hana's: they both felt rotten because of their respective father and mother's identities (a yakuzo and an adulterer). Being Japanese and supposedly superior did not save Hana from feeling as disgraced as Noa felt. Heritage drove Noa to commit suicide, but it couldn't save Hana from self-destruction.
LauraC (20)
Love this! Very good point. Hana's deathbed scene sort-of encapsulates this dichotomy that is Japan for us in Avery poignant way.