YA Asian Books You All Should be Reading! + Books by Asian Authors on my TBR // Happy Asian Pacific Heritage Month!

I’m Asian, if no one knew yet.

I’m opening up with a little saltiness today* but I think it’s very important to mention ethnicity and all other aspects of ourselves that might not be the societal “default”!! So if you think that I’m white because that’s what we’ve all been programmed to think: Hi! I’m Asian!

This month is a special month for Asians: It’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! So OBVIOUSLY, I’m giving a few Asian book recommendations, as well as talking about some ownvoices Asian books on my TBR.

Asian representation in books is SO important to me so I want to make sure that my fellow Asian readers (if that’s you, say hi!) will find some books where they hopefully will feel represented by.

*Nope just kidding I open up with equal amounts of saltiness in each and every post.

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warcross by marie lu

Obviously, I’m mentioning my FAVORITE Marie Lu first on here. I absolutely ADORE her and seeing such a successful Asian author in YA is really amazing.

Emika Chen is Chinese, and Hideo (the love interest) is Japanese! It was SO. GREAT. to see these two characters succeeding in STEM areas and being recognized for it (though I do admit that there wasn’t as good character development as I wish there was). Plus there’s just really amazing overall diversity in this book!

AND. I enjoyed it so much. If I rated by technical elements of books, I probably would 4-star this now, but when I’d finished, I was so blown away by what Lu had written and feeling SO satisfied that I gave this 5 stars. I was so engaged and my adrenaline was super high and I remember staying up late and scream-texting my friends about how GOOD it was.

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starfish by akemi dawn bowman

If y’all really know me, you know that this is one of my favorite books ever, specifically for the Asian rep. (Read my Goodreads review here, which I spent a very long time on to thoroughly explain why it means so much to me.)

I just. love this book so much?

It captured my feelings about being Asian in a society where being white is the norm. It made me recognize the thoughts I’d been having for what they were. I had thought for years and years things like “I wish I was white” and “if I was white I’d be pretty” and I knew that I had thought those things, but I hadn’t really KNOWN. And this book changed the way I view myself probably for the rest of my life.

This features an anxious biracial Japanese girl! (Again, the Asian rep is the biggest reason why I love this book so much. PLEASE READ IT. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE.)

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Everything I Never Told Youeverything i never told you by celeste ng

So 1) I read this like a year ago so I remember pretty much NOTHING, and 2) it’s historical fiction, and y’all know how I feel towards that genre…

BUT. This book was really interesting and intriguing and engaging. It was kind of weird, but weird in a way that I enjoyed? It has one of those plots that has this BIG event in the beginning, and then goes back in time to describe what happened up until that point, and I LOVE THAT.

I also read a good article/post about how Eleanor & Park is racist* (will link if I remember!). Eleanor & Park took place when there was a lot of racism towards Asians in America, specifically the Chinese and other East Asians, and one argument used to defend the racism in E&P was that it took place during that time period.

But this book, which also takes place in that time period, talks about an interracial relationship between a Chinese man and a white woman, and how their family endures the racism because of that relationship. And the racism isn’t written in a way that it’s condoned. It’s TRULY well-written.**

*If I were making a list on books-about-Asian-characters-to-never-read-list, E&P would be on it. Please don’t read it.
**Okay wow everything I knew about this book just CAME TO ME and I’m a little overwhelmed now!!!

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To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)  P.S. I Still Love You (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #2)  Always and Forever, Lara Jean (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #3)

to all the boys i’ve loved before by jenny han

Okay, so I’m pretty sure if I read this now, I would HATE it. But it was a super cute, fluffy enjoyable contemporary with a biracial Korean girl as the main character and I liked it at the time I read it! Plus, it has really amazing family dynamics and I LOVE that.

AND LOOK AT THAT BEAUTIFUL ASIAN GIRL ON THE COVERS.

(It’s also being adapted into a Netflix TV show and I’m SUPER excited. I don’t even care about the story that much but Asian rep on TV YES PLEASE.)

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When the Moon Was Ourswhen the moon was ours by anna-marie mclemore

This is one of my favorite books EVER, and the reason it’s last on this list is because the author is not Asian herself (she’s Latina) and I wanted to feature ownvoices authors first and foremost! (I wish I could’ve done an all-ownvoices author rec list but unfortunately I haven’t read/enjoyed enough ownvoices Asian books to make a long-enough rec list.)

However, this book is SO, so beautiful and it’s what made me fall in love with McLemore’s books. She has such a gorgeous style of writing, and this book showcases it all. I can’t even pinpoint what I love so much about this?

(Though that may be because I read it a long time ago.)

This features a trans Pakistani boy! I’m not comfortable speaking on the Pakistani rep since I think my culture and experiences are very different from Pakistanis’ (even though we are both Asian). I also can’t speak about the FTM trans rep, but from what I’ve read of ownvoices reviews, it seems well-represented!

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TBR!

I wish I could’ve been reading books by Asian authors / about Asian characters all month for May in celebration of Asian Pacific Heritage Month, but I unfortunately didn’t know about it until about a week before May started and I had plans to read non-Asian books in May that I couldn’t change. ://

BUT!!! I do have a TBR of books by Asian authors I’m super excited to read. It’s SO SO sad that I don’t have a large amount of books about Asians / by Asian authors to recommend (the others on my “Asian rep main” Goodreads shelf are ones I didn’t like), so obviously I want to fix that by reading a lot more!!

Some of these books I hope to get to this month but who knows at this point.

  

  • Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan // This is one of my MOST ANTICIPATED releases of the year and I am so so SO lucky and thankful to get an ARC of it!! Like, it’s about sapphic Asian girls?? Me??? People have loved it and the cover is beautiful and I’m just so excited fjsldfjsdl.
    .
  • The Astonishing Color of After by Emily XR Pan // This is also one of my most anticipated books, and I started reading it but put it on hold because 1) I was slumping and it was slow, and 2) it talks about grief and depression and I was in my depressive state at the time. The MC is a biracial Taiwanese girl!

  • Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C Dao // I’m so MIXED over this one. Some of my friends hate it, some of my friends love it??? So I’m really scared that I won’t like it. And the original cover (which is the copy I have) is so extremely UGLY and I hate it. Based on Chinese mythology and has Chinese characters!

Emergency Contact Noteworthy

  • Emergency Contact by Mary HK Choi // I didn’t know anything about this before it got onto the NYT Bestselling list, and now I’m very excited for it!! It doesn’t seem exactly my type of book but it seems interesting enough. And also, the author is very pretty. The MC is a Korean-American girl!
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  • Noteworthy by Riley Redgate // I had no idea that Redgate was Asian, and I completely forgot/didn’t realize that the main character was Asian! But now I am SUPER excited to read it (especially finding out there were a lot of characters who were POC and queer, including the MC!). The MC is Chinese-American and bisexual!

Picture Us in the Light  American Panda  Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad, #1)

  • Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert // This book tackles so many important topics like suicide, sexuality, and mental health, and I am SUPER excited to read it. It looks like a really heavy book but also a well-written one. The MC is a Chinese-American gay boy! [The label gay is never used explicitly.]
    .
  • American Panda by Gloria Chao // This seems like a cute fluffy book talking about parental expectations! I think it’ll be a really important book, especially because a lot of (not all) Asian parents can be super strict with their children. Plus Mei seems like a very lovable Taiwanese-American MC.
    .
  • Not Your Sidekick by CB Lee // I am SUPER SUPER excited to read this one because it’s about a biracial Vietnamese-Chinese bisexual girl who falls in love with another girl. And I’m so excited to finally see another (half-) Southeast Asian girl in YA, especially a queer one!! I have a feeling I will really, really love this.

There are a lot more already-published books by Asian authors on my TBR, but these are the ones I’m looking forward to reading the most! Of course, there are also a lot of books releasing in the future that are by Asian authors, along with many books that are about Asian characters, but not ownvoices.

please PLEASE check out this amazing list of books about asians by asian authors dedicated specifically for asian pacific american history month!!

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ALSO…

If you want to support this little blogger, you can VOTE in Twitter polls for your favorite!!!

(Me. I’m the favorite.)

VOTE ME FOR BEST TEEN BOOK BLOGGER!

VOTE ME FOR OVERALL BEST BOOK BLOGGER!

I’m running against some AMAZING bloggers and fellow friends of mine, and I’m already so happy to be in the final rounds of voting. But it would mean the world to me to win one (or,,, bOTh?1?!?!1) of these awards!! (Even tho I wouldn’t like, cry if I didn’t.)

I honest to god HATE competitions like this because 1) it’s usually a popularity contest, and 2) a lot of smaller bloggers don’t get noticed when they put in the same amount of effort as all the nominees.

BUT. I think it’s something really important to appreciate and support bloggers, and I love bringing attention to my favorite blogs who may or may not get a lot of recognition. And I think we all need a little (or a lot of) validation to make us feel good about ourselves.

(I JUST NEED 15 TO 20 VOTES TO AT LEAST BE IN A TIE WE CAN DO THIS RIGHT.)

Also it’s Asian Pacific American Heritage Month and one thing you can do to support Asians is vote for Asian creators!!!! Hello!! I am an Asian creator seeking validation!!!

But seriously! Thank you all so so SO much for nominating me for so many different awards/categories. I’m still kind of in shock that I was nominated for the best book blogger… out of all the teens???? And for the best book blogger… out of ALL the book bloggers??? AAAAHHH.


shall we chat

are you supporting asian creators? (GO VOTE FOR ME PLEASE) if you’re asian, are you celebrating that fact? if you’re an ally, are you doing all that you can to support asians/POC? what books of these have you read or are on your TBR?

p.s. yes that featured image is mine and my arm was sore after holding up five books. I’m weak

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80 thoughts on “YA Asian Books You All Should be Reading! + Books by Asian Authors on my TBR // Happy Asian Pacific Heritage Month!

  1. Omg May all of these books look soooo good and intriguing! I especially like the sound of Starfish as you said that you loved it so much! Also I had no idea you were Asian! That’s so cool! Do you still live in your home country?
    Ella 💐🦔 xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Starfish will forever be a favorite of mine! ❤ And yeah, everyone usually assumes I'm white which sucks. :/ (Not blaming anyone in particular of course, since it's something society has influenced us to do unintentionally!) And actually, my home country is America…? I was born here. But my parents were born in Thailand and we visit every other year!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sounds so great May! Yeah, it’s kind annoying and I get what Chu mean! Would love to learn more about you in the future! 💫🌟 xx

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  2. Starfish is one of my favorite books of all time and it’s for some of the same reasons as you, but mostly because the emotional abuse and how it feels to have a parent who is a ‘starfish’ is done the exact same as my own experience with a mom who said many of the same things to me as was said in the book. Plus the writing is gorgeous! I loved it!

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    1. I’m SO SO glad that you could relate to Starfish, Tiana! (I mean, I’m not glad that you had to have those experiences in the first place, but I’m happy you could find a part of your identity in the book ❤) The writing is absolutely GORGEOUS, I know. It’s one of my forever favorite books for sure!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey may!! Lovely post! I think I have to read all those books, because they seem interesting! I’m also an Asian, so 🙌🏻!! I will nominate you, but should we have a Twitter account for it? Do you live in Asia? ❤️
    Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes!! Oh, I didn’t know that! Your from Thailand? Its a long distance from the U.S! Thailand’s a beautiful place, I’ve been there! But I couldn’t enjoy it much, because of my sickness!! But I would want to visit it again!! You’re really sweet! ❤️
        Xxx

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  4. Even I’m Asian! And celebrating this month by reading Asian American authors. I love your recommendations, especially Everything I Never Told You – it’s one of my favourite books ever! I love Warcross, and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was a pretty cute read. I also have The Astonishing Color of After (I’m currently reading it – it’s amazing) and Emergency Contact on my TBR! Best of luck with your reading 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, hello fellow Asian! I really wish I had known about it being APAH Month earlier so I could’ve made a TBR before and follow it through. 😭 Everything I Never Told You was super good! It was such an intriguing story and had some amazing Asian rep. ❤ And aahh, I'm so glad to hear that you're enjoying The Astonishing Color of After! I'm super excited to read it 😍

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  5. WHOOOO YES THIS WAS A REALLY NICE POST and I got a whole bunch of books for my tbr. Thanks (even though it will drown me haha). I’m half Asian and I am totally proud of it so *high five* I would love reading books with Asian characters – not that I mind white ones, of course, but a change is ALWAYS refreshing XDD I was flipping through American Panda and Emergency Contact in the bookstore earlier and THEY BOTH LOOK REALLY COOL ^-^

    SO THANKS AGAINST FOR THIS POST ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’M GLAD YOU LIKED THE POST! ❤ And aahh yes, I mean having a huge TBR is bad but at least it's full of amazing authors to support and books to read 😂 Books with Asian characters are my favorite books to read! And yay, I'm so happy to meet another fellow Asian ❤

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  6. “So if you think that I’m white because that’s what we’ve all been programmed to think: Hi! I’m Asian!” THAT’S SO SAD BUT YES. I used to automatically picture every character in a book as white when I was younger (because 99.9% of the time all the characters I’d read about WERE white), and I honestly feel so sad about that.

    Bless you for mentioning Marie Lu first?? I can’t wait to read Starfish, it’s been on my tbr for far too long, and I need to finally get around to it!! Same with Anna-Marie McLemore’s books.

    This is such a great post, May! I’M SO HAPPY I JOINED THE BLOGOSPHERE SO THAT I CAN FOLLOW AND APPRECIATE YOUR BLOG POSTS PROPERLY ❤ ❤ ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. YES SAME. Like I still picture book characters (and online people) as white unless they explicitly say otherwise, which really really sucks :/ And it’s so hard to change because I’ve done it from such a young age and I just !!??!?!

      STARFISH IS SO GOOD. You better love it. And I hope you feel as repped by it as I did (me any time I think about it: 😭😭😭)

      Aaaahh I’M SO GLAD YOU LIKED IT and I’m so happy you’ve started blogging!!!!

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  7. 1.) i love you more than word. 2.) i have a post going up like this tomorrow… so… you’re my twin! And… forever thankful the book community gave me your friendship! Amazing list, babe! WAIT… I’M GOING TO LINK THIS TO MINE! BRB! 💖xx

    Liked by 1 person

  8. It would be really, really weird if someone assumed that you were white. After all, all they have to do is check out your About Me page.

    Anyway, I’m not Asian but I do read books with Asian characters and other People of Colour. I liked the ‘To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before’ trilogy but it wasn’t my favourite thing in the world. I’m looking forward to reading Starfish, American Panda, Laurinda, Emergency Contact and others.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I guess people who don’t check out my About page just assume that I’m white, since it’s the default 😒

      Ooh, I agree with you on TATBILB! It was good, but not a favorite of mine. More like something for my entertainment (though I know it means a lot to some people!) ❤

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  9. I’m Asian!! I really want to read Starfish — it sounds really good! also, you said she’s Korean but isn’t she Japanese…? but anyway. I also want to read American Panda — it sounds really cute too.

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  10. hello i have finally emerged from my wordpress grave to comment on this post because it’s good qualitea content *insert emoji*

    uhh also when the moon was ours sounds like absolute gold and i rlly want to read it because trans desi rep ??? hello ???? and starfish !!!!! i have been waiting to read that since forever but i’m not allowed to buy anymore books for three months yert

    um

    idk what else to say

    byeloveyou

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like how you emerged from your wordpress grave to immediately go back to it and not post anything until this month,,,

      WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS IS AMAZING PLS READ IT also yes Starfish is my fav and you also have to read that basically read all the books I rec’ed thank you

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Omg, I didn’t know about ‘Starfish,’ but it sounds like the perfect book for my best friend! She told me she was planning to write a novel talking about how it feels to be Asian in a predominantly white society because she never read anything like that when she was younger and had the same thoughts you mention (we’re Spanish, but she’s originally from China). I’ll tell her about it, I’m sure she’ll be so happy! Thank you so much, and I’ll check the other books that aren’t already in my list

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I hope your friend will read Starfish then! It felt like a love song to me and other Asians living in a majroly white society 😭💛 I’m so glad books like this exist, because it truly shows the power of representation. ❤ And ah, I hope you find a book on this list that you enjoy!

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  12. Oh I love that you shared all those great recommendations with us! 💗 AND WARCROSS IS SO GOOD OMG YES 😍 I’m very excited (and terified) for Wildcard, because it’s a duology and that means … that this is the last book, which also makes me sad 😱 I also loved Starfish! And American Panda + Not your Sidekick are on the top of my TBR 🙂
    An underrated Asian YA book that I’ve loved is Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh, it’s an ownvoices book set in future Seoul with lots of action and great romance 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Warcross is AMAZING!! I’m so so excited for Wildcard, I want an ARC but I probably won’t get one 😭 And I’m super glad you loved Starfish as well!! Ooh — Rebel Seoul is one that I’m excited to read! I’ve heard so little hype about it but so many people have loved it!

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  13. Totally agree with your mini rant about Eleanor and Park!!!! That was one of my biggest issues with it!

    Also, Celeste Ng’s new book, Little Fires Everywhere, has a super interesting exploration of Asian immigrants in America during the 90s, and I really enjoyed it!! The characters are side characters, but like the focal point, if that makes any sense?

    Also, A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki is an adult fiction book, but it features two Japanese women, one living in Japan and one living in Canada, and it’s really good! I highly recommend it!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This is such a fantastic post, I love all of your recommendations! I LOVED Warcross so much, it was such a great book and I just couldn’t stop read it. I so want to read Starfish and hope I can soon, it sounds brilliant and exactly like my kind of book.
    I can’t WAIT to hear what you think of Girls Made of Paper and Fire, American Panda and EMERGENCY CONTACT, I loved that one so, so much haha. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Yes!!! I needed this so much, thank you 🙂 I desperately need more Asian rep and I didn’t even know it was Asian Pacific Heritage months?? (Whoops, I’m a bad Asian.) This whole post made me super happy ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m so happy to hear you loved Noteworthy and Forest of a Thousand Lanterns! I’m excited to read both of those. ❤ And aahh I have to read CRA before the movie comes out! It's not the type of book I usually read but anything for my fellow Asians haha

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  16. This is a great post May, and of the books you’ve featured that I’ve read I definitely agree with you on how amazing they are. Warcross is a favourite of mine, and I can’t wait for the second book, and I think you probably know how I feel about When the Moon Was Ours so I won’t spend time gushing about it more than I already have! 😀
    I really hope you enjoy Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, I haven’t seen that many mixed reviews for it but I was one of the people who really loved it, and who can’t wait for the second book. Also I have Emergency Contact on my TBR list too, mainly because of some of the things people have said about it (basically it sounds INCREDIBLE).
    Great post May, and oh good luck with the book blogger awards as well. 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sooo excited for Wildcard! I think it’ll be an amazing conclusion (all of Marie Lu’s conclusions are, honestly) and I can’t wait to be sucked into that beautiful world again.

      It gives me confidence that I’ll love FoaTL to hear that you loved it!! I really hope I like it — I mean, dark fantasy? antiheros? Asian rep? And ooohh I hope you love Emergency Contact!! I’ve been seeing more and more mixed reviews but some of my most trusted friends/reviewers have liked it so I still want to try it!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Yessss, I’m Filipino and I absolutely adore this list! I’m hoping to see more Filipino representation in the young adult I read, but these books I’m sure are great representation of their own backgrounds! I’ve read American Panda and it resonated with me, even if I’m nowhere near Taiwanese/Chinese. Anyway, Happy Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month to ya!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I hope there is more Filipinx rep, as well! I think we all deserve to see ourselves in literature and I’m glad we’re getting more and more diverse with the characters’ backgrounds in books ❤ And yes, same! A lot of books don't represent me specifically, but I can find myself in them and that makes me so happy 😊

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  18. Thank you so much for this post, fellow asian ❤ I started reading Forest of a Thousand Lanterns but had to return it before I got very far through, however from what I did read it seemed enjoyable? I agree it's so important for there to be more asian reps in books and tv shows/movies!

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Yess! I don’t remember where from but I once heard something like asians are the highest minority reporting racism and how people aren’t actually *that* racist towards them or something but I just thought that was so incorrect, it’s a good thing they can identify racism and all racism is wrong…

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yeah, definitely! Another thing people don’t think about too is that there are a lot of brown Asians that face a lot of racism because of their darker skin, so to say that there is less racism towards Asians is… wrong. (And lighter-skinned Asians definitely have more privilege, but they still face lots of racism as well?)

          Liked by 2 people

  19. Most of the books you mentioned are either already on my TBR or I’ve read them but you also mentioned some that I haven’t heard of/didn’t know it had Asian rep! Starfish erghhh I will forever squeal about this book with you (tho you said korean instead of japanese) I DIDN’T KNOW TO ALL THE BOYS I LOVED BEFORE IS BEING A SHOW!!! I thought it was just going to be a movie released by Netflix ahhhh. This has me even more excited (even though I still need to read the books haha).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. WELL I’M GLAD I COULD LET YOU KNOW THAT THEY HAD ASIAN REP!!! (and jsflksjdflsd someone else told me about me saying Kiko was Korean instead of Japanese and I have no idea why I said that but it’s fixed now 💛) actually, you and Lia’s screaming about this book was what led me to reqeust an ARC! and I’m so so glad I did omg. fjsdlfkjd idk if it’s a movie or show?? I know it’s something with Netflix 😂

      Liked by 1 person

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