This June, Fully Booked is putting the spotlight on Asian books to celebrate diversity and explore reads that offer perspectives on the wide range of Asian experiences.
These books contain important voices that need to be heard: authentic Asian experiences that bring in a wide array of themes ranging from feminism to Asian philosophy, that can surely widen your reach as a reader.
Scroll through to find out the common themes (plus book recommendations!) found in Asian literature to further convince you to read more books written by Asian authors:
First-hand immigrant accounts
Books that tell immigrant stories shed light on racial discrimination and the difficulties of being an outsider—more often than not: the melancholy, pain, and suffering one has to endure. Despite the telling of hardships, these stories also show power and grit; to inspire readers to continue fighting for the pursuit of racial equality in the modern world.
Reads we recommend: A River of Stars by Vanessa Hua, The Farm by Joanne Ramos, American Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong
Examination of colonial pasts
As George Santayana once said, “To know your future you must know your past.” These books discuss the critical events that shaped what we know now and the life and works of people who have contested colonialism. Reading historical accounts also gives us a better understanding of our foundation and the roots of contemporary cultural, political, economical, and social processes to further understand the present and prepare for the future.
Reads we recommend: Insurrecto by Gina Apostol, The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Beyond binary identities
For centuries, binary opposition has played an important role to maintain function in a larger system. While it has been one of the foundations of a working society, the boundaries between groups of people also brought upon prejudice and discrimination in: culture, religion, geopolitical differences. To an extent, gender, race and skin color, and political binarism may create a violent hierarchy, in which only one opposition can attain dominance. As these kinds of stories and experiences are often presented in Asian books, it helps readers understand and explore the differences in structuralism between these groups.
Reads we recommend: Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong, Sour Heart by Jenny Zhang, Silence by Shusaku Endo, Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri, American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Female experience within Asian contexts
There can be a fine line between how women are perceived in books and those works authored by women themselves. Asian literature can also provide various ways of thinking about feminism through personal experiences and telling of stories on society’s predisposition towards gender roles. These books are often invested in raising awareness towards women oppression and resisting Asian cultural limitations.
Reads we recommend: Breast and Eggs by Mieko Kawakami, Kim Ji-Young Born 1982 by Cho Nam-ju, If I Had a Face by Frances Cha
Centrality of family
In Asian culture, the theme of family and togetherness are often depicted in literature. Translated lit puts a heavy emphasis on ancient heritage and familial obligations—these primarily act as a moral compass and heavily influence the values, perspectives, and priorities of a person. The sense of identity also begins in being part of a family as it is often seen as a strong network of support: ever present in one’s life from childhood to adulthood.
Reads we recommend: Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, Please Look After Mom by Shin Kyung-sook
Magical realism and mythology
Reading Asian magical realism means entering a fictional world filled with folktales, myths, and fables—mixing fantastical elements that portray social relevance in the real world. In Philippine mythology alone, there are already hundreds of distinct pantheons and magical creatures such as diwatas, tikbalangs, aswangs, and more. These can be seen in both classical and contemporary Asian lit.
Reads we recommend: Wicked Fox by Kat Cho, When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller, Poppy War by R.F. Kuang, 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, Trese by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo
Asian philosophy and approach to life
Happiness. Fulfillment. Long life. In today’s fast-paced world, many turn to books authored by Asian descents to learn more about practices that talk about leading a healthier, more peaceful life: ancient teachings that are equally relevant even when studied in the 21st century. These books are also usually centered on looking for purpose, discovering religion, eliminating unnecessarily clout, and developing one’s potential.
Reads we recommend: Love for Imperfect Things by Haemin Sunim, The Art of Simple Living by Shunmyo Masuno, Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Francesc Miralles and Hector Garcia
Discover more Asian reads at Fully Booked Online. Visit the Read Asian collection.
Min Jin Lee
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER * #1 BOSTON GLOBE BESTSELLER * USA TODAY BESTSELLER * WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER * WASHINGTON POST BESTSELLER
In the early 1900s, teenaged Sunja, the adored daughter of a crippled fisherman, falls for a wealthy stranger at the seashore near her home in Korea. He promises her the world, but when she discovers she is pregnant--and that her lover is married--she refuses to be bought. Instead, she accepts an offer of marriage from a gentle, sickly minister passing through on his way to Japan. But her decision to abandon her home, and to reject her son's powerful father, sets off a dramatic saga that will echo down through the generations.
Get Pachinko, National Book Award Finalist (Paperback) by Min Jin Lee and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Bring meaning and joy to all your days with this internationally bestselling guide to the Japanese concept of ikigai (pronounced ee-key-guy)—the happiness of always being busy—as revealed by the daily habits of the world’s longest-living people.
What’s your ikigai?
Get Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life (Hardcover) by Héctor García and other self-help books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo.
A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.
Get 1Q84 (Paperback) by Haruki Murakami and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Histories and personalities collide in this literary tour-de-force about the Philippines’ present and America’s past by the PEN Open Book Award–winning author of Gun Dealers’ Daughter.
Two women, a Filipino translator and an American filmmaker, go on a road trip in Duterte’s Philippines, collaborating and clashing in the writing of a film script about a massacre during the Philippine-American War. Chiara is working on a film about an incident in Balangiga, Samar, in 1901, when Filipino revolutionaries attacked an American garrison, and in retaliation American soldiers created “a howling wilderness” of the surrounding countryside. Magsalin reads Chiara’s film script and writes her own version. Insurrecto contains within its dramatic action two rival scripts from the filmmaker and the translator—one about a white photographer, the other about a Filipino schoolteacher.
Get Insurrecto (Paperback) by Gina Apostol and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni's Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history. Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now they want it back. And when one of the tigers approaches Lily with a deal--return what her grandmother stole in exchange for Halmoni's health--Lily is tempted to agree. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister and her new friend Ricky, Lily must find her voice...and the courage to face a tiger.
Get When You Trap a Tiger, Export Edition (Paperback) by Tae Keller and other intermediate books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Four mothers, four daughters, four families whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who's "saying" the stories. In 1949 four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, begin meeting to eat dim sum, play mahjong, and talk. United in shared unspeakable loss and hope, they call themselves the Joy Luck Club. Rather than sink into tragedy, they choose to gather to raise their spirits and money. "To despair was to wish back for something already lost. Or to prolong what was already unbearable." Forty years later the stories and history continue.
Get The Joy Luck Club (Paperback) by Amy Tan and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY Time Glamour Real Simple Good Housekeeping Marie Claire Town & Country
Gripping, provocative, heartbreaking, The Farm pushes to the extremes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.
Get The Farm, Export Edition (Paperback) by Joanne Ramos and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the PhilippinesLearn More
Relax and find happiness amid the swirl of the modern world with this internationally bestselling guide to simplifying your life by a Japanese monk who embodies the wisdom of Zen.
A minimalist line drawing appears opposite each lesson on an otherwise blank page, giving you an opportunity to relax with a deep breath between lessons. With each daily practice, you will learn to find happiness not by seeking out extraordinary experiences but by making small changes to your life, opening yourself up to a renewed sense of peace and inner calm.
Get The Art of Simple Living: 100 Daily Practices from a Japanese Zen Monk for a Lifetime of Calm and Joy (Hardcover) by Shunmyo Masuno and other eastern philosophy books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Cathy Park Hong
How do we speak honestly about the Asian American condition—if such a thing exists?
Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively confronts this thorny subject, blending memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose the truth of racialized consciousness in America. Binding these essays together is Hong’s theory of “minor feelings.” As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these “minor feelings” occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality—when you believe the lies you’re told about your own racial identity.
Get Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning (Paperback) by Cathy Park Hong and other biography books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Holed up with other mothers-to-be in a secret maternity home in Los Angeles, Scarlett Chen is far from her native China, where she worked in a factory and fell in love with the married owner, Boss Yeung.
Now she’s carrying his baby. To ensure that his child—his first son—has every advantage, Boss Yeung has shipped Scarlett off to give birth on American soil. As Scarlett awaits the baby’s arrival, she spars with her imperious housemates. The only one who fits in even less is Daisy, a spirited, pregnant teenager who is being kept apart from her American boyfriend.
Get A River of Stars: A Novel (Paperback) by Vanessa Hua and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Named one of the best books of 2018 by NPR, Real Simple, Lit Hub, The Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Post, Kirkus Reviews, and The New York Public Library
An increasingly relevant story told with startling lucidity, humor, and an uncanny ear for the intimacies and shorthand of family ritual, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful debut about three generations of women in one family struggling to balance the promise of the American dream and the unshakeable grip of history. With exuberance, grit, and sly tenderness, here is a family saga; an origin story; a romance; a narrative of two nations and the people who leave one home to grasp at another.
Get America Is Not the Heart: A Novel (Paperback) by Elaine Castillo and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Gene Luen Yang
American Born Chinese is an amazing ride, all the way up to the astonishing climax.
A tour-de-force by New York Times bestselling graphic novelist Gene Yang, American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he's the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny's life with his yearly visits.
Get American Born Chinese (Paperback) by Gene Luen Yang and other young adult books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Viet Thanh Nguyen
Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Winner of the 2016 Edgar Award for Best First Novel
Winner of the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
“[A] remarkable debut novel”―Philip Caputo, New York Times Book Review (cover review)
The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping spy novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.
Get The Sympathizer: A Novel (Paperback) by Viet Thanh Nguyen and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
A riveting debut novel set in contemporary Seoul, Korea, about four young women making their way in a world defined by impossible standards of beauty, after-hours room salons catering to wealthy men, ruthless social hierarchies, and K-pop mania
Kyuri is an achingly beautiful woman with a hard-won job at a Seoul “room salon,” an exclusive underground bar where she entertains businessmen while they drink. Though she prides herself on her cold, clear-eyed approach to life, an impulsive mistake threatens her livelihood.
Get If I Had Your Face: A Novel (Paperback) by Frances Cha and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
Try to remain calm as you walk down the dimly lit streets. If you are suddenly surrounded by a pack of dogs that appear from nowhere – these might be segben tracking down their prey. Avoid the butcher’s shop that’s open at this hour. It might be a front for a gang of vampiric aswang.
Yet, there’s an even deadlier threat to the city tonight. An ancient being that thrives on violence and thirsts for blood has found new disciples in this modern-day city.
Get Trese, Vol. 3: Mass Murders (Paperback) by Budjette Tan and other graphic novel books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More
International Bestseller • Winner of the Pulitzer Prize • PEN/Hemingway Award Winner
With a New Foreword by Domenico Starnone
This stunning debut collection unerring charts the emotional journeys of characters seeking love beyond the barriers of nations and generations. In stories that travel from India to America and back again, Lahiri speaks with universal eloquence to everyone who has ever felt like a foreigner.
Get Interpreter of Maladies (Paperback) by Jhumpa Lahiri and other contemporary fiction books online and at Fully Booked bookstore branches in the Philippines.Learn More