Friday, February 11, 2011

Book Challenge Update: The Great Mahjong Book

I have completed another challenge component for my One, Two, Theme Challenge.  I'm quite enjoying the challenge.  Is nice to be compelled to read some non-fiction I normally wouldn't.  For this entry I read The Great Mahjong Book: History, Lore, and Play by Jelte Rep.  Jelte Rep is not Chinese.  He is from the Netherlands, but has a deep (its obvious from the book) love of Mahjong.  I became interested in Mahjong from the book "Thirteen Orphans" by Jane Lindskold. The title is actually a Mahjong hand and the magic in the book is all visualized using Mahjong.  Anyway its a fun book (I recommend it) and got me interested in Mahjong.

The Great Mahjong Book contains both history and how to play the game.


Thirteen Orphans
 I must say I don't think I could just pick up and play Mahjong right this minute.  If I had both the book and a Mahjong set I think I would have a fighting chance. The book has beautiful color pictures of different hands and the rules from all different Mahjong variants.  It also provides great tables on how to score etc.  If I was really committed to learning Mahjong I would buy both a mahjong set and this book.  I think they would work great together.  It also provides so many variants that you could get people play what seems to be a wide range of playing styles all on the same page.

lots of tiles . . .
The history sections are mixed in with the game variants.  So, each countries version comes with the history of Mahjong in that region.  This both works and doesn't work.  It becomes a bit spotty to read.  I would have preferred a book with two halves.  One half history (and more of it because its super interesting) and one half how to play the game (wherever you might be).

Full sets come in cool boxes!
Overall the book was interesting and pretty fun to read.  I don't think Mahjong will stick in my head, but it is clearly a good companion to have for playing the game.  If you want to know more about Mahjong I would suggest this book.  The tone is light and easy to read . . . plus its interesting.