Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Feature Characters of Asian Descent

TTT #12

Hello! I wasn’t planning on participating in Top Ten Tuesday, a weekly bookish meme by The Broke and the Bookish, this week because I don’t read a lot of diverse books (I hope to change that though). But after grabbing some Chinese takeout and reading some other bloggers’ posts, I’m like why not?

I tweaked this week’s topic a bit. It was originally “Ten Books That Celebrate Diversity/Diverse Characters” (examples: features minority/religious minority, socioeconomic diversity, disabled MC, neurotypical character, LGBTQ, etc.) and I decided to make this a narrower focus by sharing some books that feature characters of Asian descent since I’m Vietnamese-American and find these characters’ perspectives interesting-especially if the author isn’t Asian himself/herself. (And I have to admit, there was some literal food for thought involved in this. Chinese food is always a good idea; it definitely helped with the inspiration for this post today!)

And I don’t own a bunch of the books I’m about to mention and I’m starting this post really late in the day, so using google images will have to suffice this time. Hope you guys don’t mind! Actually, for once, it may actually look uniform, haha. And I’m not going to go through each one explaining who the Asian characters and what their nationalities are… Instead I have all the titles linked to GR, so you can read these titles if they interest you!

Okay, let’s get to it!

Girl_in_Translation_Paperback_highres Girl in Translation
by Jean Kwok

I’ve been wanting to read this title for years now because the majority of my GR friends have loved it and it’s won several awards as a debut novel. Really looking forward to it.

SPACE. Ugh I must have these in place sometimes for the format to work.

Crazy-Rich-AsiansCrazy Rich Asians
by Kevin Kwan

A recent read I’ve discovered from Zezee @Zezee with Books. The overall title and synopsis is intriguing. However, I think Crazy Rich Asians hasn’t been received well by critics and it’s a complete mess for some readers. I’m still ogling it at bookstores though.

Memoirs_of_a_Geisha_PosterMemoirs of a Geisha
by Author Golden

So I admit, I’m one of those readers that occasionally opts for the movie option. And this was one of those titles in which I did choose that route. I really enjoyed the film and the soundtrack is beautiful (Yo-Yo Ma is in it-like how can it not be good?). But I am aware that this book has received some backlash because it’s a quasi-biography and apparently the original Chiyo/Sayori had some dissatisfaction with the way Geisha were represented in it (she ended up writing her own autobiography). However, to me, from what I know of the movie, this is much more like a historical fiction novel that’s been heavily inspired by a real Geisha. I guess I’ll see when I do pick the book up. (And yup, I used the movie poster because Zhang Ziyi is gorgeous with blue contacts in general.)

tb-cover-993x1500A Tale for the Time Being
by Ruth Ozeki

The bright cover and the price sticker (it’s been on sale at my local bookstore for ages) of this one has caught my eye on multiple occasions when I’ve visited Books a Million. And every single time I pick it up and put it back after checking GR. I know, I know. I should just buy it if I’m interested and see if I like it for myself. /raises hand/ But I’m totally guilty of relying on reviews. Maybe I’ll buy it next time. Not sure yet.

919s+inUwKLThe Joy Luck Club
by Amy Tan

Gosh, this is another title I’ve wanted to get my hands on for, well, forever (it was actually first published in the late 1980s). Amy Tan is a pretty popular adult historical fiction author and The Joy Luck Club follows 4 families and their immigrations stories. I’ve read books with multiple perspectives before but I’m curious on how Tan is going to interweave four families’ tales into a 288 page book.

by Kim Thúy

Okay, so I’ve had this book out from the library since April? May? And I have started it. I read to page 90 in a sitting, which isn’t hard to since the writing is fully composed of vignettes. But I’ve never sat down again to finish it… And probably will end up returning it to the library soon since I think I’m running out of renewals. (I’ve been periodically checking if there’s been any holds waiting for this-don’t want to make the line of readers backed up. But I guess it’s not so popular in the U.S. as in Canada.)

510jKzHClvLSnow Flower and the Secret Fan
by Lisa See

I received this as a gift from one of my friends. She loved it and we have pretty similar reading tastes in regards to historical fiction. Fingers crossed that I’ll get to read this (and a bunch of other titles) before the end of 2015.

by Marissa Meyer

The Lunar Chronicles has been receiving quite a lot of love in the blogosphere/booktube/reading community for it’s uniqueness. I actually read Cinder when it was first released and thought it was okay. But I’m hoping to continue this journey in the world of “New Beijing” now that I’ve purchased Scarlet.

by C.C. Hunter

This title is part of a vampire spin-off series I’ve been really enjoying this past year. I can’t wait until the third book comes out! You can read my reviews for the two first installments if you’d like to: Reborn and Eternal.

9284655The Tiger’s Curse
by Colleen Huock

Alright, alright. So Ren and his brother are Indian, so technically South Asian. And I thought I’d include it just because there’s so few titles on this list that I’ve actually read. But I guess including this means I need to add some other books with South Asian characters-another time I suppose.

cityofbonesCity of Bones
by Cassandra Clare

MAGNUS BANE. He’s one of my favorite characters in TMI and TID. And it just felt wrong leaving him off even if he’s a side character. I really need to read his adventures in The Bane Chronicles.

Update July 22, 2015: How could I forget JEM?? 😮

Hello-I-Love-You-21Hello, I Love You
by Katie M. Stout

Well, if you’ve read my review you know how I felt about this book and my spiel on Grace as a character. She’s not the Asian in this book, by the way. Everyone else aside from her is though.

to-all-the-boys-ive-loved-before-9781442426702_hrTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before
by Jenny Han

I often express my weird relationship with Jenny Han’s books in these T10T posts… The Summer trilogy just wasn’t my cup of tea. (Plus, I have high expectations when a title of a book/series has my name in it.) But I still want to read Lara Jean’s story in this book. And meet Peter Kavinsky.

133742Now and Zen
by Linda Gerber

A completely nostalgic read for me. I started reading the S.A.S.S. series in early middle school and enjoyed the books at the time. All of them are written by various authors and feature an American girl’s experience while studying abroad. Light and fun if you’re into those.

Great-Call-of-ChinaThe Great Call of China
by Cynthia Lin

Another S.A.S.S. book and the better one in comparison to Now and Zen. It’s about a Chinese-American girl that travels to China hoping to discover her roots after being raised by an adopted family in the States.

71BHySg5phLOf Metal and Wishes
by Sarah Fine

Umm, well… I’ve had this book checked out from the library for so long and haven’t gotten to it yet, unlike Ru. There’s supposed to be some steampunk elements so I’m looking forward to seeing how that’ll be executed with the addition of ghosts. Hopefully I’ll start this after I complete The Kiss of Deception.

by Richelle Mead

Because this list would not be complete if I didn’t mention this being a Richelle Mead fan. (I am insanely jealous of those of you that got ARCs!)

See why I left out the “ten” in the actual title? This is way more than 10 books. But it was a fun list to share! I tried choosing books that featured Asian characters that had a bigger role in the novel instead of side ones like Cho Chang in Harry Potter. Plus, I always mention HP in my T10T posts. I mean is there even a Top Ten Tuesday topic where Harry Potter isn’t applicable/appropriate?

And I have to admit that I feel slightly uneasy when I go into reading books that have Asian characters, just because I’ve been disappointed before. Usually the cultural identities of the characters aren’t as pronounced as I’d expected them to be, but I’m happy that they make appearances anyway. And I appreciate authors that try to include all groups and create more diverse books!

That’s all, happy Tuesday (or almost Wednesday), everyone!


Blog @xingsings | Instagram @readxings | Twitter @xingsings

48 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Feature Characters of Asian Descent

  1. aentee @ read at midnight says:

    Nice list! As a Vietnamese I love seeing Asian protagonist so this list is fantastic. Crazy Rich Asian is on my list to read despite the absurdity of the premise. Soundless is one of my most anticipated books of this year.

    Cindy Pon also released Silver Phoenix which is set in Asia if you’re interested. There’s also another couple of series such as White Tiger by Kylie Chan (though unfortunately has a Mary Sue white-saviour type protagonist)!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Oh! I had no idea you were Viet as well! 🙂 Soundless has a fantastic cover, I’m hoping the content will be just as good. And I think I’ve heard of White Tiger before but I haven’t read the synopsis yet. Thank you for the two recommendations, Aentee! I’m going to add them to my TBR. 🙂


  2. bookishandawesome says:

    I have Soundless on my list, too! Obviously, I haven’t read a single one of these titles, which is deeply problematic of me (but that’s another story). However, I plan to pick up TATBILB soon. I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Zezee says:

    I have “Girl in Translation” on my Book Outlet wishlist. I read a few pages of “Crazy Rich Asians” and it’s good. I haven’t continued on yet because I was planning to send it to a family member.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. millie says:

    So many of these titles are great. “The Joy Luck Club” is a classic. One of the best books of contemporary American literature hands-down. “Memoirs of a Geisha” is a much better book than movie, but I like both.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Those are the two titles on this list that I’ve been looking forward to read for years. And I still haven’t bought copies of them yet. -_- But I’m so glad they’re as good as the reviews suggest! Thanks for the comment, Millie! 🙂


  5. Carolyn says:

    I love the Joy Luck Club so much and I actually found it very relatable. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is a heartbreaking read but still good haha.
    I really like to read books by Vietnamese authors as I’m Vietnamese too (as you obviously know lol) and Catfish and Mandala has been on TBR for a while; it sounds really cool! I’ve also read Paradise of the Blind which I really liked as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Awesome, I’m really looking forward to reading Snow Flower and the Secret Fan soon. Joy Luck Club… I’ve been wanting to read it for years and haven’t bought myself a copy yet. -_- But I guess, owning one doesn’t guarantee I’ll read it right away either. You know how I am. 😛 And thank you for the recommendations, Carolyn. I’ll make sure to add it to my TBR later today!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Cassandra @ Read All About It! says:

    I have had Memoirs of A Geisha on my TBR list for too long. I loved that you tweaked the topic, it was fun reading your list😄.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thuong Le says:

    Nice choice of books! It’s always interesting to read about Asian characters in books, as I don’t get to read many of them. Jem in the Infernal Devices is half Chinese and half English, and I thought that was such an interesting combination! The books I usually pick up are always stereotypically caucasian characters rather than diverse characters from different backgrounds. I think your list will encourage me to read books that feature Asian descent characters 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Oh! How could I forget about Jem?? 😮 I totally agree. Jem’s background is really unique for a fictional character. I also love how he’s not really described as an half Asian appearance-wise either, you know with all that opium changing his features. And thanks! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Kelly @ Dancing Through the Pages says:

    I always like reading books with Asian characters because I’m Asian duh. We should get more representation in YA books but this is America so I guess it makes sense. Girl in Translation is actually the book I picked for my summer reading book and we have to annotate the whole thing. I enjoyed it when I first read it but now that I have to go back and analyze it, I’m finding that I actually hate the book because of a few details I noticed. Lot’s of these books are on my TBR too, especially Memoirs of a Geisha and A Tale For the Time Being . My friend is actually convinced that I’d love the latter but I still haven’t read it. Love your list and the new graphic you made!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Thank you, Kelly! I kind of went all crazy… and started making a graphic for every single post. I’m a lunatic, lol. But anyway, I’m pretty excited for Memoirs of a Geisha because I’ve already seen the movie (shame on me, haha) and loved it. And oh no! I hated annotations with a passion. But I guess it really helps the critic in you blossom. I’m happy you sort of enjoyed Girl in Translation though. Hopefully Tale For the Time Being will be great for the both of us as your friend suggests. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  9. lucia says:

    I bought Girl in Translation from my library in hardback for 3 bucks. It was a great book and I loved it, the only problem was that none of my friends had read it or even heard of it, and with the cover they were like ‘yeah that sounds interesting. . . not’. Well to be honest thats what one of my teachers said but then I explained the book and they were like ‘thats really cool!’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      We don’t have many library sales at my local one so I usually buy my books from bookoutlet or the BAM bargain sections if I want to get them cheaper. But gosh, you can’t beat $3! I’m pretty excited for Girl in Translation now that everyone in the comments have mentioned it’s a lovely book. So glad you enjoyed it! And I totally have friends that judge covers (and maybe I do too sometimes) but they’re not even readers. XD

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Anjie @ Love thy Shelf says:

    Awesome post! I haven’t read most of these (just Cinder, CoB, and To all the Boys) — bur I’m glad for the list, now I can add them to my TBR haha. Being Asian, I always love seeing them as main characters! We definitely need more Asians in books!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Thanks, Anjie! I’m so glad to hear that! I’ve only read a third of these books, so most of these are on my TBR as well. And we always talk about Will/Jem and the TID, so I’m not sure how I completely forgot to add Jem! 😮 XD


  11. fasterthanfaeries says:

    Cool list. And I love the theme! I started ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’ once after seeing the movie because it was so beautiful but I honestly didn’t get that far. The books on the list have such nice covers that it would be hard not to pick them up 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Ahh, thank you! ^.^ And oh no! I’m the same way for certain books. I don’t really count them as DNF books though just because I’m a strong believer that some books are much more enjoyable at different times of reader’s life. But that’s just me, no pressure for you to pick it up again or anything. 🙂


  12. Lab partner says:

    Dis is dope dog! Legit, I feel like you have books covered up all along yo wall and ceiling. You should hit me up with some of these Asian reads.

    Your life long lab partner😙

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Oh, I haven’t! But I just checked it on Goodreads and the synopsis is intriguing. I’ve been wanting to read a good sci-fi book for a while so thanks for the recommendation. And thank you, you as well. Happy (writing and) blogging! 🙂


  13. Analee @ Book Snacks says:

    Omg great list! I’m always looking for more books with asian descent (I have some asian ancestry) and diverse culture. 🙂 I’ve only read a few of the books on your list (Reborn, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Cinder, CoB, Hello I Love You and Tiger’s Curse) but it seems I’m going to be adding a lot more! Soundless and Of Metal and Wishes are already on my TBR as well, and I can’t wait to read them both! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Thank you! Ahh, that is so cool (that you have some Asian ancestry)! And Soundless seems to be a highly anticipated read for many people. Hopefully we’ll all love it! Happy reading!

      By the way, thank you for catching up with my blog today! 😉 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Analee @ Book Snacks says:

        I know right? 🙂 I’m not directly Asian, but it’s cool to have some Asian ancestry. Yes, and since I really enjoyed both Richelle Mead’s VA and Bloodlines series, I’m doubly excited for Soundless. (It seems like so long ago that we talked about VA & Bloodlines, lol.)

        So you’ve noticed! XD I’ve been meaning to for a while and finally got a chance. ❤ You put up some great posts! 😉


  14. Wesaun @ Oreos and Books says:

    Interesting list, I plan to read Ru, but hopefully I can catch up on these. I am also interested in Soundless, although I feel blessed to not be a Richelle Mead fan so the wait isn’t killing me. I hope you get an ARC.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. thislandofmine4728 says:

    Jem and Magnus are literally my favourite characters in the whole of TMI & TID!! They are literally the best. I am an Indian and what I wish is that there were more books where Indians play a big role in YA books because I have read no book as such. I loved this post and I do have to say that it is amazing that there are so many books with such diversity when it comes to race. 🙂
    PS You should definitely read The Bane Chronicles and I am warning you- You will die because of fangirling a lot when you read the Malec stories. (THEY ARE SO CUTE) 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Summer @ Xingsings says:

      Oh my gosh, I absolutely agree. Magnus is such a sassy, sparkly character. If I had to choose a fictional character to ship myself with, it’d totally be Jem. He’s so sweet and, admittedly, I love that he’s half Asian (so he seems more relatable to me, that is). Thanks for The Bane Chronicles warning; I’ll be on the lookout (for the safety of my heart). 😉

      And I know! I haven’t read that many books that have South Asians characters. :/ The only two I can think of is The Tiger’s Curse series and Climbing the Stairs… Have you read either of them?

      Liked by 1 person

      • thislandofmine4728 says:

        I haven’t actually read either of those books but I have been wanting to read The Tiger’s Curse for soo long mostly because it takes place in India. Even though it might not be how India is now, there is always something exciting in seeing your country have a role to play in a YA book because you can’t help but think ‘Oh, I can truly relate to that.’ But thank you for the recommendations and I won’t forget to check out and hopefully read both of these books. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

        • Summer @ Xingsings says:

          Honestly, the cultural portrayal seems to really lack in that series. I would have loved to see more of India’s actual landmarks or learned more about the country but the overall story is very entertaining. And Ren. ❤

          You’re so welcome! I hope you enjoy them. ^.^

          Liked by 1 person

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