I knew this month that I wanted to keep reading fiction books, but I also have been trying to read more books by Asian authors. It crossed my mind that it feels like…like I would hesitate to recommend a book with Asian characters to my friends because I fear it would kind of come across as an academic assignment to most of them. I worry that the story won’t be taken as a story and the people as people, but like “let’s learn about Asians!” I worry about “will they find it relatable?” I recognize that is totally ridiculous because I basically read only about white people (authored by white men) until I went to college. And if people relate to and enjoy literal fantasy books, like The Hobbit, surely they can imagine Asian people doing stuff and having real emotions.
For the longest time the only Asian author I had read that I thought people might maybe know was Amy Tan, who wrote The Joy Luck Club. The movie was made over 25 years ago and I think the next time an Asian cast in Hollywood was seen was Crazy Rich Asians…
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
Why I picked this book up: Honestly I think I googled “books by Asian authors” a while ago t to find recent books and found a list this was on
Mood: If you’re into historical fiction and multi-generational stories (who isn’t!?)
I really liked this book! It follows the story of two families and how their lives were impacted by the Cultural Revolution and Tiananmen Square to modern times. Even though it’s fiction, I learned a lot about these events and I can’t help by think about the protests in Hong Kong & Taiwan while reading this as well. I enjoyed it a lot and would read another book by Thien.
The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
Why I picked this book up: Because liked Circe so much!
Mood: Is historical fiction for Greek mythology a genre? Because I could stay here for a while.
I really enjoyed this book, but it went a slower for me than Circe. Again, I appreciated that she centered the book around a more minor character, Patroclus. I had the impression that I would know the story better because I’ve heard the story of Achilles, but got to be surprised by the depth of characters she created and I certainly didn’t know that Achilles was gay! Maybe I like historical fiction more than I knew?
Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu
Why I picked this book up: Along with Minor Feelings this was one of the more recent Asian American books that have been making the circuit recently and I was talking to a friend about xenophobia and she really recommended it.
Mood: If you want to learn more about the Asian American experience, but I want it to be fun (although still sad because racism).
This book has a super unique format where it’s structured like a script and people playing roles. It both made it feel distance and really, really real to me. Like, it was they were talking about how Asian people fit into these roles with callus Hollywood generalizations, but they were also accurate that I could perfectly picture people I knew slotting into them or people thinking of me like that. I could especially see my dad and my brother in the descriptions. There is a scene at the end that really tied the format of the book together for me (no spoilers!). I would also recommend this book .
Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Why I picked this book up: I keep seeing this book pop up for me on lists and friends reading it.
This was a good book, but I struggled a little bit because it felt too accurate and it caused me stress by proxy. The story centers around a young black women, the rich white lady she babysits for, and a white tech bro she ends up dating. It deals with race, class, and the well-meaning actions of white people that are actually really uncomfortable. I couldn’t think of how to describe it and so I’m going to include this quote from and NPR review: “This is a book that will read, I suspect, quite differently to various audiences — funny to some, deeply uncomfortable and shamefully recognizable to others”
The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle
Why I picked this book up: This was the last book on my journey of investing that finally arrived from the library
Mood: Investing! For official people!
This is one of The Recommended Books on investing, but I was on the library waitlist until now. It wasn’t as straightforward and practical for me as Broke Millennial Takes on Investing, but it wasn’t too long or complicated either so I ended up finishing it. the tl;dr is index funds.