Pachinko and Pompey

How are these two words connected? How can a Japanese recreational arcade game and a famous Australian general be linked? Is it merely alliteration? No – it’s because they are the key words to remind me of my favourite books from 2018.

I spent some time in hospital early in the year and a very kind friend brought me Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. It’s a delightful, sad family saga set in Korea and Japan during the 20th century. I had next to no knowledge of the history between Korea and Japan in that time frame but I learnt much whilst reading Pachinko. I absolutely loved the book and passed it around amongst my family and friends who all reviewed it favourably. Some members of my book club were not so impressed saying that it lost focus in the second half of the story. I reread it prior to our discussion at book club and I found it to be just as enjoyable the second time.

Pompey Elliott In His Own Words by Ross McMullin is also historical but it is the story of Pompey Elliott, one of Australia’s great fighting generals during World War I. Ross McMullin has researched Pompey’s life through his own writings; his diaries, his letters and his wartime correspondence and has published his writings in chronological order. We went to a talk by Ross at the 2018 Brisbane Writer’s Festival about this book and were hooked. We had to buy it. It’s a gripping read. We see inside the thoughts and feelings of this compassionate man who fought for his men through numerous controversies even though it affected his opportunities for promotion. He grieved when his men were sacrificed and we see that particularly in letters to his wife. (She kept and preserved all his letters to her and their two children.) He tried to be a father to his children even though he was thousands of miles away in horrific situations. The letters to the kids are poignant.

Two great books! I recommend them to you.

PS I’m doing a WordPress free online course at the moment and it gives a daily challenge. I haven’t managed them all but this one is to post a regular monthly or weekly post. So I reckon I’ll write about the best books I’ve read each month but I thought I had to start with these two great books I read last year. I hope you enjoy reading about what I’ve been reading.