Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

-Issy’s Book Club

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“Living everyday in the presence of those who refuse to acknowledge your humanity takes great courage”

Pachinko is a story of love, sacrifice, prejudice, and tradition.

I enjoyed the multi-generation storytelling that Min Jin Lee uses to tell this story (in a similar way to Wild Swans) of an immigrant korean family displaced by war to Japan in the 20th century as they try to make enough to live whilst providing opportunity for their children hoping that they will have a better life.

It is a well told and engaging (though warning: it’s pretty sad most of the way through) novel, the historical context of this book was also interesting and prompted me to read more about Koreans living in Japan in the 20th Century, as well as having to google and watch some youtube videos on what Panchinko is!

Educated by Tara Westover

-Issy’s Book Club

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This book is the definition of a page turner. I have not read many autobiographical books in my life, most often favoring a fiction book, however I find myself leaning more and more into these memoir type novels. Educated shocked me.

Tara Westover’s book is a distressing & discomforting exposure of her upbringing in a Mormon fundamentalist family with a mentally ill, paranoid father. They grew up separated from modern society, Tara not stepping foot into a class room until she was 17 years old as well as struggling to align the doctrine she grew up with with a less conservative society.

I think education is really just a process of self-discovery—of developing a sense of self and what you think. I think of [it] as this great mechanism of connecting and equalizing.” – Tara Westover

Chris and I both read this book and really enjoyed it. It made me reflect on the privileged upbringing that I had and feel a bit guilty about taking my education for granted at times.


The Lost City of Z by David Grann

-Issy’s book club

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An adventure story that grabs your attention and will scare you from ever venturing into the Amazon. The novel is full of suspense and intrigue and lots of historical detail to keep you interested. You won’t want to put it down.

In 1925, Percy Harrison Fawcett, armed with information only he had unearthed, accompanied by his son, his son’s best friend, headed off into the Amazonian wilderness in search of a large, ancient, fabled city, the City of Z (The Amazon’s El Dorado) and disappeared forever. Like many before him the author of this book becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Fawcett and goes in search of the City of Z.

Part historical novel, part biography, part adventure journalism (is that a thing?) this book will ignite a sense of adventure in you!

Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang

-Issy’s Book Club

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Hello everybody! I have A LOT of free time to read now that we are travelling, with my Kindle getting fuller and fuller each week I thought I would take the time to write a short review about book that I loved, those page turners (and not bother with those I didn’t). I remember when I was working I was always on the lookout for interesting new books, the Whitcoulls top 100 lists can be a little uninspiring, so maybe this can inspire you to try out one of these books- you can tell me what you think too!

When I started reading Wild Swans I was hooked. It’s addictive- it makes you forget about eating and drinking whilst you’re reading it as you get lost in the story, reading quickly to find out what happens next, and when you’re not reading you’re thinking when you might be able to sneak away to get a few chapters in.

It’s a captivating historical novel told as a memoir spanning three generations of strong chinese women in a family- the author’s grandmother, mother, and then autobiographical of her life. These women live during the 20th century China before the Chinese communist party took rule under the boxer rebellion, during its establishment, and life under Mao and the cultural revolution up til the 1989 Tiananmen square incident.

“Father is close, Mother is close, but neither is as close as Chairman Mao.” 

The book was first published in 1991 and was the top grossing non-fiction paperback in publishing history, it sold more than 10 million copies worldwide. In saying that, I had never heard of it before and reading the book whilst travelling through China, it shocked me and had a major impact in how I experience our time in the country.

Wild Swans is the best book I’ve read this year so far!