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What’s the best book to read if you’re looking to learn the game of mahjong, or improve your play?

There are many many books about mahjong (mah jong, mah-jongg) written for Chinese and Japanese audiences, but relatively few in English.  The Mahjong Guide has carried out a survey of the books that are recommended by experienced players to their fellow players.

These are the 15 most frequently recommended English language books about mahjong:


  1. A Mah Jong Handbook: How to Play, Score, and Win
  2. by Eleanor Noss Whitney (orig. 1968 but reprinted many times since).

    This classic book dates back to the 1960’s. For beginners and more experienced players wanting to improve their strategy. Gives an introduction to the many variations of the rules. Especially good on the Japanese and US versions. Includes exercises to help you learn and score cards that can be copied.

  3. The Game of Mah Jong Illustrated
  4. by Patricia A. Thompson and Betty Maloney (1999)

    Probably the best book for mahjong novices wanting to learn how to play. A clear and straightforward manual with helpful illustrations. Goes through all aspects of play from setting up and scoring to playing special hands.

  5. The Red Dragon & The West Wind: The Winning Guide to Official Chinese & American Mah-Jongg
  6. by Tom Sloper (2007)

    This highly regarded expert covers rules, strategy, etiquette and also the history of US and Chinese mah-jongg.  Particularly good for those new to the game.

  7. Mah-jongg: From Shanghai to Miami Beach
  8. by Anita Luu and Christi Cavallaro (2005)

    A lovely book that immerses you in the history culture of the game, with clear explanations of the rules, beautiful photos and even recipes to eat while you play!

  9. The Book of Mah jong: An Illustrated Guide
  10. by Amy Lo (2001)

    Amy Lo’s book is about authentic Chinese mahjong, with information about  Cantonese, Shanghai, Taiwanese and 12-tile versions. Aimed at all levels of player. Some of the explanations are a little difficult to follow but it’s a very useful reference none the less. 

  11. The complete book of Mah-Jongg 
  12. By A. D Millington (1997)

    Very scholarly, comprehensive but accessible book on the classical Chinese version of the game and its cultural background. Millington compares mah-jongg to other skill games and looks at the rise and influence of other versions of the game. Clear explanations of the rules of Chinese mah-jongg, though not a huge amount on strategy. 

  13. Beginner’s Guide to American Mah Jongg: How to Play the Game & Win
  14. by Elaine Sandberg (2007)

    For those who want to play American style mah jongg, this book provides clear step by step guidance on how to play the official National Mah Jongg League rules.

  15. Improve Your Mah Jong 
  16. by Patricia A. Thompson and Betty Maloney (1993)

    This well illustrated book looks at more advanced strategies and special hands. Largely focuses on the Chinese game. Includes a very good score calculator.

  17. Mah Jong, Anyone?: A Manual of Western Play
  18. by Kitty Strauser, Lucille Evans, and Tom Sloper (2006)

    About the US and other western variations of mah jong. Takes the basic rules, scoring, penalties and bonuses and shows how they are adapted in different versions.  Helps you develop some basic strategies that can be applied whatever version you are playing.  

  19. The Happy Game of Mah-Jong
  20. By David H. Li (1994)

    Aimed at newcomers to the traditional Chinese version of mah-jong. Li teaches you how to play and build strategies, using exercises and logic, and explains the cultural significance and etiquette surrounding the game. And most importantly he will convince you of what an enjoyable and sociable pastime this is!

  21. The Great Mahjong Book: History, Lore, And Play
  22. by Jelte Rep (2007)

  23. Teach Yourself Mahjong
  24. by David Pritchard (2007)

  25. Mah Jong Fun: A Handbook of Classic Fundamentals of Mah Jong
  26. By Tong Seng and M.D. Tjoa (2003)

  27. An Advanced System for Playing Mah Jong
  28. by Chung Wu (2002)

  29. The Mah Jong Player’s Companion
  30. by Patricia A. Thompson (2005)

    Mahjong books available from our specialist bookstores – in association with and 


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Top Mahjong Picks for Monday, October 14, 2019


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One Response to “The Best Books about Mahjong”

  1. Fi Says:

    Useful list – thanks!

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