100 books like Pachinko

By Min Jin Lee,

Here are 100 books that Pachinko fans have personally recommended if you like Pachinko. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Norwegian Wood

Marcia Yudkin Author Of Marketing for Introverts

From my list on overlooked stories about introverts.

Who am I?

A bookworm and word lover from the get-go, I always pushed back a bit on society’s expectations that we all act like extroverts. I studied philosophy at school, taught it for a few years, but quit academic life to become a freelance writer and then a marketing expert. When I took a personality test sometime around 2008 and realized I was an introvert – and a fairly extreme one at that – I began seeing more and more ways in which our culture misunderstands and disparages introverts. Now retired from marketing, I explore prejudices against introverts and introverts’ special talents in my weekly newsletter, Introvert UpThink.

Marcia's book list on overlooked stories about introverts

Marcia Yudkin Why did Marcia love this book?

All of the five or six novels of Murakami’s that I’ve read feature an introverted protagonist not quite at home in the world, someone who wonders about reality and latches on to other strange people. Norwegian Wood, named after a song by the Beatles, may be the most accessible and this-worldly of his books.  It’s a coming-of-age story about a Japanese college student who falls in love at the end of the 1960s and never quite resolves his feelings. But after you read Norwegian Wood assuming you like it – be sure to go on to Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore and IQ84, which I feel is his masterpiece.

By Haruki Murakami,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Norwegian Wood as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

DISCOVER THE SHORT STORY COLLECTION THAT GAVE THE WORLD DRIVE MY CAR, THE BAFTA AND OSCAR WINNING FILM

A dazzling Sunday Times bestselling collection of short stories from the beloved internationally acclaimed Haruki Murakami.

Across seven tales, Haruki Murakami brings his powers of observation to bear on the lives of men who, in their own ways, find themselves alone. Here are vanishing cats and smoky bars, lonely hearts and mysterious women, baseball and the Beatles, woven together to tell stories that speak to us all.

Marked by the same wry humour that has defined his entire body of work, in…


Book cover of Convenience Store Woman

Marian Frances Wolbers Author Of Rider

From my list on a sweet journey into Japan.

Who am I?

I’ve been enjoying Japanese stories from the moment I first found them, a direct result of living, studying, and working in Japan for five years, from Imari City (in Kyushu Island) to Tokyo (on Honshu). The pacing of Japanese novels—starting out slowly and deliberately, then speeding up like a tsunami out of nowhere—totally appeals to me, and feels infinitely more connected to exploring the subtleties, complexity, and beauty of relationships. This is especially true when compared to Western novels, which seem overly obsessed with splashing grand, dramatic action and injury on every other page. I just love revisiting Japan through reading.

Marian's book list on a sweet journey into Japan

Marian Frances Wolbers Why did Marian love this book?

This contemporary, quirky tale centers around the life of Keiko, a young woman who has never done anything in a conventional way and has her mother very worried that her daughter will never find a man and settle down into a conventional life. No, Keiko’s ways of thinking are startling and odd in ways that are both amusing and somewhat horrifying, as she really does fall outside the realm of conventional thinking and socially rewarded behavior. The reader comes to love her as she grows into womanhood (and personhood) as a worker in a fast-paced convenience store, where she memorizes hundreds of products and practices behaving more “normally” by mimicking the actions and words of her co-workers. Then a man named Shiraha enters the picture, for a new twist.

By Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (translator),

Why should I read it?

9 authors picked Convenience Store Woman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet Keiko.

Keiko is 36 years old. She's never had a boyfriend, and she's been working in the same supermarket for eighteen years.

Keiko's family wishes she'd get a proper job. Her friends wonder why she won't get married.

But Keiko knows what makes her happy, and she's not going to let anyone come between her and her convenience store...


Book cover of The Master of Go

Steven Arntson Author Of The Wikkeling

From my list on short contemporary novels in translation.

Who am I?

My writing career has been in middle grade and YA, but as a reader I’m always trying to branch out. When I was a kid, literature opened the door to the whole world, and as an adult, I’m still exploring. When I read work in translation I can feel the literary connection to other writers and thinkers and simultaneously appreciate the differences that arise through geographic and cultural heritage. I hope my selections here might help readers like myself who enjoy reaching out to new voices and places.

Steven's book list on short contemporary novels in translation

Steven Arntson Why did Steven love this book?

Translated from Japanese, this 182-page novel originally published in 1951 is perhaps a little long to be included as a short novel, and a little old to be considered contemporary . . . but it’s a personal favorite! Both a novel and a piece of journalism, Master describes the final match of a man widely considered to be his generation’s greatest go player. Interwoven into this narrative/character study are arresting details about the game and those who have played it over the centuries. It reads so quickly, you’ll think it was only 100 pages.

By Yasunari Kawabata, Edward G. Seidensticker (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Master of Go as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Go is a game of strategy in which two players attempt to surround each other's black or white stones. Simple in its fundamentals, infinitely complex in its execution, it is an essential expression of the Japanese sensibility. And in his fictional chronicle of a match played between a revered and invincible Master and a younger, more progressive challenger, Yasunari Kawabata captured the moment in which the immutable traditions of imperial Japan met the onslaught of the twentieth century.

The competition between the Master of Go and his opponent, Otake, is waged over several months and layered in ceremony. But beneath…


Book cover of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Jonathan Meiburg Author Of A Most Remarkable Creature: The Hidden Life and Epic Journey of the World's Smartest Birds of Prey

From my list on taking you to another world.

Who am I?

If you’re curious about the world, you can find secret doors that open onto sudden vistas. For me, exploring the lives and origins of the caracaras unveiled an astonishing story about life on Earth—and though the books in my list are mostly nonfiction, they all explore real worlds as absorbing as any fantasy. 

Jonathan's book list on taking you to another world

Jonathan Meiburg Why did Jonathan love this book?

David Mitchell's fantasia of life in the closed world of Edo Japan is a visceral, eerie, and profound novel that's also great fun, and it has everything: love, honor, treachery, bureaucracy, magic, a terrifying cult, a debauched ape, and the delightfully arch proto-scientist Dr. Marinus. As with many of his novels, it has the feel and richness of great cinema, and his depiction of life on an island in Nagasaki harbor where representatives of the Dutch East India Company are permitted to trade with a secretive nation they barely understand is so well-researched that you'll almost believe it happened.  

By David Mitchell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Sunday Times Number One Bestseller, from the author of CLOUD ATLAS and THE BONE CLOCKS.

Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2010

'Brilliant' - The Times
'A masterpiece' - Scotsman

Be transported to a place like no other: a tiny, man-made island in the bay of Nagasaki, for two hundred years the sole gateway between Japan and the West. Here, in the dying days of the 18th-century, a young Dutch clerk arrives to make his fortune. Instead he loses his heart.

Step onto the streets of Dejima and mingle with scheming traders, spies, interpreters, servants and concubines as two…


Book cover of A Gentleman in Moscow

Karen Samuelson Author Of Weaving Dreams in Oaxaca

From my list on books where the setting is like another character.

Who am I?

I have a passion for novels with complex characters and a memorable sense of place. The setting is key to the overall ambiance of a novel: its colors, smells, architecture, terrain, weather, flora, and fauna. My novel, Weaving Dreams In Oaxaca, takes place in Oaxaca, Mexico. The story is unique to the location because it includes the zocalo, cathedrals, outlying pueblos, food, etc. My family and I moved there for six months in 2006, and I fell in love. I sent my mother audio tapes every two weeks describing our adventures as she had become blind. I later transcribed them into twenty-two pages of detailed description of this magical city which I used in my novel.

Karen's book list on books where the setting is like another character

Karen Samuelson Why did Karen love this book?

In terms of a sense of place, most of this book takes place in the Hotel Metropol where Count Alexander is meant to spend the rest of his days as the communist regime has taken over.

His young friend, Nina has a passkey and their days are spent exploring every nook and cranny and the basement of this regal old hotel. Within these walls and his tiny room, the Count keeps up the culture and soul of his lifestyle through conversation, music, poetry, and relationships. The ballroom and stairwells and restaurant reveal secrets, and like the Count, the hotel keeps its dignity and old-world style through it all.

By Amor Towles,

Why should I read it?

29 authors picked A Gentleman in Moscow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The mega-bestseller with more than 2 million readers, soon to be a major television series

From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The Lincoln Highway and Rules of Civility, a beautifully transporting novel about a man who is ordered to spend the rest of his life inside a luxury hotel

In 1922, Count Alexander Rostov is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat by a Bolshevik tribunal, and is sentenced to house arrest in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. Rostov, an indomitable man of erudition and wit, has never worked a day in his life, and…


Book cover of Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood

Rosalyn W. Berne Author Of Waiting in the Silence

From my list on people who show moral courage.

Who am I?

I am an ethicist—a scholar and professor who thinks and writes about “right” and “wrong” in terms of human behaviors, actions, and relationships, especially where technology is involved. I went into this field because my first pregnancy was a baby girl named Zoe whose brain never developed (anencephaly). When I tried to do what I thought was right, arranging to have her organs donated, some thought it was wrong, and my efforts ultimately failed. In working through my grief, I wrote a SF novel about one woman’s struggles and strength in the face of a frightening use of technology. Books about enduring personal struggles with integrity remind me that this is part of life. 

Rosalyn's book list on people who show moral courage

Rosalyn W. Berne Why did Rosalyn love this book?

Trevor Noah is the funniest living comedian, and he is brilliant. Who would ever guess that his childhood was filled with so much trauma? Being set in Apartheid South Africa, I was able to keep a personal distance from the story. But it still touched and inspired me, perhaps because my own children are mixed race and had they been born there, I’d not have been allowed to marry or live with their father. Unimaginable. This autobiographical accounting of Trevor’s tormented life is a testimony to his inner strength. An average person from his background might be in prison or dead. But not Trevor. The question is why he made it through with such integrity and heart. He gives a lot of credit to his mother and I appreciate that.

By Trevor Noah,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Born a Crime as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE THURBER PRIZE

The compelling, inspiring, (often comic) coming-of-age story of Trevor Noah, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

One of the comedy world's brightest new voices, Trevor Noah is a light-footed but sharp-minded observer of the absurdities of politics, race and identity, sharing jokes and insights drawn from the wealth of experience acquired in his relatively young life. As host of the US hit show The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, he provides viewers around the globe with their nightly dose of biting satire, but here Noah turns his…


Book cover of The Surrendered

Eugenia Kim Author Of The Kinship of Secrets

From my list on historical fiction set in Korea.

Who am I?

Eugenia Kim’s debut novel, The Calligrapher’s Daughter, won the 2009 Borders Original Voices Award, was shortlisted for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and was a critic’s pick by the Washington Post. For that novel, which is set during the Japanese Colonial Period in Korea, 1910-1945, and for her second novel (below), whose first half is set during the Korean War, 1950-1953, she read more than 500 books and twice traveled to Korea in order to accurately depict these little-known slices of history.

Eugenia's book list on historical fiction set in Korea

Eugenia Kim Why did Eugenia love this book?

What happens after you survive the atrocities and randomness of war? Chang-rae Lee examines the deep intricacies of this question and its ramifications, portraying three survivors (Korean War, Sino-Japan War) whose lives mesh at an orphanage somewhere in South Korea after liberation. From that common crossroad, the lives of Sylvie, a missionary wife, Hector, a G.I., and June, a Korean orphan, are forever intertwined, shadowed by pervasive doom pitted against the human need to endure. Lee’s intense focus on physicality seems to reflect the characters’ bodily will to continue life, even as their hearts are blackened by tragedy. It is an intense and absorbing read, frightening for what we do to ourselves and how, despite all the darkness and violence we create in the name of war, some continue to persist in a semblance of life, and helplessly pass along the damage of war to those they touch as they…

By Chang-Rae Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Surrendered as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

June Han has forged a life thousands of miles from her birthplace: she has built a business in New York, survived a husband, borne a child. But her past holds more secrets than she has ever been able to tell, and thirty years after her escape from war-ravaged Korea, the time has come for her to confront them.

Hector Brennan, fighter, drinker and 'failure grand and total', is the man who long ago saved June's life. And between them lies the story of the beautiful, damaged Sylvie Tanner, whose elusive love they both once sought. On a journey that takes…


Book cover of This Burns My Heart

Eugenia Kim Author Of The Kinship of Secrets

From my list on historical fiction set in Korea.

Who am I?

Eugenia Kim’s debut novel, The Calligrapher’s Daughter, won the 2009 Borders Original Voices Award, was shortlisted for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and was a critic’s pick by the Washington Post. For that novel, which is set during the Japanese Colonial Period in Korea, 1910-1945, and for her second novel (below), whose first half is set during the Korean War, 1950-1953, she read more than 500 books and twice traveled to Korea in order to accurately depict these little-known slices of history.

Eugenia's book list on historical fiction set in Korea

Eugenia Kim Why did Eugenia love this book?

This book will capture you with a heroine who is both irresistible and flawed, and will engross you with increasing twists in a triangle of love and sacrifice. The story explores how a fateful choice colors a decade of marriage, and challenges a young woman’s ambition already constrained by traditional Korean culture. Sam Park paints all the flavors of post-war Korea in this vivid debut, and his understanding and expression of the human heart is universal.

By Samuel Park,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked This Burns My Heart as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Chamara is difficult to translate from Korean to English: To stand it, to bear it, to grit your teeth and not cry out? To hold on, to wait until the worst is over? Such is the burden Samuel Park's audacious, beautiful, and strong heroine, Soo-Ja Choi, faces in This Burns My Heart, an epic love story set in the intriguing landscape of postwar South Korea. On the eve of marriage to her weak, timid fiance, Soo-Ja falls in love with a young medical student. But out of duty to her family and her culture she turns him away, choosing instead…


Book cover of The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories

Rachel Swearingen Author Of How to Walk on Water and Other Stories

From my list on debut story collections to read cover to cover.

Who am I?

From childhood on, I’ve been drawn to storytellers, especially those who use their imagination to captivate and question. My favorite stories twist and turn, and throw light on the every day to reveal what is inexplicable, weird, wondrous, and often heartrending. My taste runs wide, and I could list dozens of favorite collections. Having released my own debut book of stories during the pandemic, I learned firsthand how difficult it can be to find readers for story collections, especially when those collections are published by smaller presses. For that reason, I’ve chosen five recent debuts from masterful authors I hope more readers will discover. 

Rachel's book list on debut story collections to read cover to cover

Rachel Swearingen Why did Rachel love this book?

Caroline Kim’s The Prince of Mournful Thoughts is packed with stories that juggle humor and heartbreak. The book, set in California, Korea, and France, hosts a cast of rich and complex characters. Kim plumbs the experiences of Koreans and Korean-Americans with sensitivity and a fluidity that makes for a rich reading experience. “Lucia, Russell and Me,” one of my favorite pieces, follows an irreverent adolescent girl, whose family has just moved to America. That story, like the others, is filled with arresting details and characters that shift and change in unexpected ways. Other terrific stories are the genre-bending, historical titular story, and the futuristic piece about a suburban housewife and her therapy robot. Kim is an uncanny observer of everyday life and her way of seeing makes for gratifying reading. 

By Caroline Kim,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Prince of Mournful Thoughts and Other Stories as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Exploring what it means to be human through the Korean diaspora, Caroline Kim's stories feature many voices. From a teenage girl in 1980's America, to a boy growing up in the middle of the Korean War, to an immigrant father struggling to be closer to his adult daughter, or to a suburban housewife whose equilibrium depends upon a therapy robot, each character must face their less-than-ideal circumstances and find a way to overcome them without losing themselves. Language often acts as a barrier as characters try, fail, and momentarily succeed in connecting with each other. With humor, insight, and curiosity,…


Book cover of The Grass Roof

Eugenia Kim Author Of The Kinship of Secrets

From my list on historical fiction set in Korea.

Who am I?

Eugenia Kim’s debut novel, The Calligrapher’s Daughter, won the 2009 Borders Original Voices Award, was shortlisted for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and was a critic’s pick by the Washington Post. For that novel, which is set during the Japanese Colonial Period in Korea, 1910-1945, and for her second novel (below), whose first half is set during the Korean War, 1950-1953, she read more than 500 books and twice traveled to Korea in order to accurately depict these little-known slices of history.

Eugenia's book list on historical fiction set in Korea

Eugenia Kim Why did Eugenia love this book?

This is an autobiographical novel of a scholar’s son’s coming of age in a small village during the Japanese occupation, though that is felt with some distance. Kang focuses on classical education in that era, traditions for holidays and ceremonies, schooling, friends, family dynamic, a detailed account of the March First Independence Movement Day, and finally emigration to America as a young man. It is a little-known prequel to Kang's book, East Goes West, a seminal work in Korean American literature, which covers his immigration to New York in the 1920s through the war years.

By Younghill Kang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Grass Roof as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Text: English, German (translation)


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