25 Books by Asian Authors to Read, Especially for Asian Heritage Month!!

Yes, I’m sure you’re ALL shocked by this post and did NOT see it coming!!

Today I’m here to stay on brand as always and recommend some books by Asian authors with Asian characters! These are perfect to read for any time of year, but especially in the month of May since it’s Asian Heritage Month and a great way to celebrate Asian voices is to read them.

I’ve talked about a lot of these books before, especially in this post recommending authors of color, but I never recommended them for Asian Heritage Month before so I thought why not! These are definitely not all the Asian books I’ve read, so be sure to check out my 2018 and 2019 posts as well. (It makes me happy to see how much bigger my lists have gotten.)

Most of these I’ve read since last May, so they’re “new”, but I have a tendency to, ah, talk about the same books… so everyone act surprised at certain books on this list okay! I’m talking about The Poppy War… Fang Runin fan club will be started by me.

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if you like fantasies with martial arts and rivalries…

THE POPPY WAR (CHINESE) OR

JADE CITY (CHINESE)

The Poppy War (The Poppy War, #1)For some reason, I associate both of these books with each other, probably because they’re both Chinese-inspired adult fantasies… and I also bought them at the same time. But they actually aren’t too similar besides that and also the epic martial arts/fighting scenes and rivalries they feature!

Jade City (The Green Bone Saga, #1)Both of these books are absolute masterpieces. I’ve already talked about The Poppy War endlessly so I’ll just say if you haven’t read it, and you can handle the content… you NEED to pick it up. But Jade City is also phenomenal, and reading it was a whole experience! It features gangs and jade magic and a twist that no one—and I mean actually no one—saw coming or believed was true.fae divider (2)

if you like contemporaries with cute romances…

THE HENNA WARS (BANGLADESHI) OR

LOVE FROM A TO Z (INDIAN)

The Henna WarsBoth of these books I just finished, but they were both so good that I couldn’t exclude them from my rec list! They’re both similar in terms of being contemporary romances, tackling/addressing several social issues, and featuring Muslim characters (ownvoices)!!

Love From A to ZI think The Henna Wars focus a bit more on the protagonist and Love From A to Z is more romance-centered (I mean from the very start, it says “this is a love story”), but they both had really cute, well-developed romances. All of the characters and love interests are POC, and The Henna Wars is also f/f!!

*Note: The author of Love From A to Z is Indian; the main characters are Pakistani-Guyanese-Trinidadian and Chinese-Finnish.

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if you like books on the darker side…

MONSTRESS (CHINESE) OR

FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS (VIETNAMESE)

Monstress, Vol. 1: AwakeningWhile both of these are both fun to read, in a “I can’t wait to see how much darker it gets” way, Monstress is a comic! The art is so stunning and genuinely some of the most beautiful comic art I’ve seen. It’s so deliciously dark, with a character living with trauma and a link demonic, powerful monster. But there’s also an ADORABLE half-fox, so it balances out a little bit!

Forest of a Thousand Lanterns (Rise of the Empress #1)Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is definitely a villain origin story, and just as dark. (I mean… she gets magic from eating the hearts of people killed!) Though it wasn’t completely perfect for me, I loved the antiheroine main character so much and it was a very gripping book to read.

*Note: The author of Forest of a Thousand Lanterns is Vietnamese; the book is based on East Asian mythology.

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if you like fantasies with character squads…

THE GILDED WOLVES (INDIAN/FILIPINO) OR

WE HUNT THE FLAME (SRI LANKAN/ARAB)

The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves, #1)We Hunt the Flame (Sands of Arawiya, #1)I feel like if I think of some of the most loved YA books by authors of color on book twitter, these two come to mind?? But the love is completely well-deserved, as they’re both so fun to read and also have really beautiful writing!

What stands out to me from both of these, though, are the character squads they both feature! I LOVE character squads, because I live for the types of dynamics that usually come with them, and neither of these disappoint. The banter is great, and the romantic tension between certain characters is also lovely, and I can’t wait for the sequels to see more of these characters.

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if you like books with lighthearted adventures…

A WISH IN THE DARK (THAI),

DRAGON PEARL (KOREAN), OR

THE DRAGON WARRIOR (CHINESE)

A Wish in the Dark  Dragon Pearl  The Dragon Warrior (The Dragon Warrior, #1)

I’m recommending all three of these at once because they are my favorite three middle grade books with Asian rep, never mind the fact that they are the only MG Asian books I’ve read…

One thing I love about MG, though, is how the books are always SO much fun. And while there may be more serious parts—like class issues or depictions of grief—it overall remains hopeful and bright. Which is what a lot of us need right now!

They also have some pretty great adventures: A Wish in the Dark follows two characters as they try to improve living conditions for the poor, Dragon Pearl follows a girl trying to find her brother and a powerful magic object, and The Dragon Warrior features a Percy Jackson-esque quest to decide a girl’s destiny!

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if you like fantasies with beautiful prose…

SPIN THE DAWN (CHINESE) OR

THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME (INDO-FIJIAN)

Spin the Dawn (The Blood of Stars, #1)The Candle and the FlameBoth of these books have gorgeous writing to match their gorgeous covers, and I enjoyed reading them. While I think these two books have entirely different premises, they’re both full of magic, with female protagonists you can’t help but root for, and also are a little darker than you might expect! (Which I adored, of course.)

To showcase the Beautiful Writing, here’s a quote from Spin the Dawn: “We melted into each other until the dawn slid into dusk, and the sun paled into the moon, and the stars, once lost, became found again.” And here’s one from the Candle and the Flame: “The desert sings of loss, always loss, and if you stand quiet with your eyes closed, it will grieve you too.”

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if you like books that I don’t shut up about…

PICTURE US IN THE LIGHT (CHINESE) OR

DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY (IRANIAN)

Picture Us in the LightI recommended these for last year’s post, but I’m doing it again because clearly not enough of you have read it and you all should feel terribly ashamed of yourselves. (Not really, but… please read them.)

Darius the Great Is Not Okay (Darius The Great, #1)Both of these feature gay male main characters and tackle mental health and self-hatred. Both of these include an exploration of their identities and the protagonists connecting to their families. Both of these made me cry, and both of these are just… deeply beautiful stories.

(Also, Darius the Great is Not Okay does not have a romance, but Picture Us in the Light has a really beautiful friends-to-lovers m/m romance that I may or may not have cried over.)

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BOOKS I HAVEN’T READ

I mentioned a lot of East Asian authors, so I’m dedicating this section specifically to books by non-East Asian authors! These are all books I’m planning to read outside of this month. You can check out my May TBR here; it’s made up of mostly non-East Asian authors!!

(Ordered by release date.)

berry 2  RELEASED  berry 1

Not Your Sidekick (Sidekick Squad, #1)  Empire of Sand (The Books of Ambha, #1)  The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali  Internment

Tell Me How You Really Feel  Steel Crow Saga  I Hope You Get This Message  The Empress of Salt and Fortune (The Singing Hills Cycle #1)

berry 2  ANTICIPATED THIS YEAR  berry 1

Girl, Serpent, Thorn  Star Daughter  Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards, #1)  Dating Makes Perfect


shall we chat

what books by asian authors do you recommend?? have you read any of the books I won’t shut up about? have you read the books on my tbr? rec me some of your favorite asian books!!!

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79 thoughts on “25 Books by Asian Authors to Read, Especially for Asian Heritage Month!!

  1. So many great books! I have read Internment, Spin The Dawn and some more, and there’s many books on this list I can’t wait to read, like The Poppy War, The Gilded Wolves and We Hunt The Flame💖 thank you for sheding some light on diverse books, the reader community definitely needs more posts like this one💖

    Liked by 1 person

    1. omg i hope you ADORE the poppy war!! it’s one of my absolute faves ❤ and yes the gilded wolves and we hunt the flame are amazing as well, enjoy! thank you so much, that means a lot to hear and i'm glad to be putting out content like this!! 💕

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  2. Ahhh thanks so much for the recommendations.😍😍 These all look amazing and I’m running to GR to add them to my TBR!

    I’m currently reading The Henna Wars and I love it so much!

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  3. damn im so happy that u liked the henna wars otherwise i would’ve been sad 😦 I’m excited to read it when i can! also i really like how you do your recommendation posts now (like 2/3 books for each prompt thing) its so nice idk why.

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    1. it was very good!! i think there were some parts that were not Great (i mainly didn’t vibe completely with the writing) but i just… connected a lot to nishat and loved her as a character overall so it made up!! and AAHH thank u i like it a lot too 🥺

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  4. i love this post so much!!!! i have literally all of these in my tbr and like… i really need to start reading haha. i really love the way you format the recommendations – like the way you divide them into categories; it makes it super relaxing to read! but ahhh thank you for putting this list together!

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  5. May, you have so many great books on this list! I actually just finished Dragon Pearl (as in an hour ago!) and it was really good. I’ll have to check out the others on the list as well!

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  6. yes yes yes i loved all these recommendations!!! i just got A Wish In The Dark from my online library and i’m so excited to start it, especially after hearing so many good things about it (your review honestly convinced me to read it haha) – plus i agree that MG books all have hopeful and sweet themes, which is something i would love right now.

    and i’m SO happy you enjoyed The Henna Wars!! Girl, Serpent, Thorn sounds really good as well. this post was so amazing, thank you for all these recs! 💖💖

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    1. AAHHH!!! it makes me so happy to hear that 1) you got a copy of a wish in the dark and 2) you got it because of me!! i really, really hope you love it, it’s just such an excellently written book overall and so sweet 🥺💗 you’ll have to let me know your thoughts!

      thank you so much! i love recommending all the asian books i can ❤

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  7. The pitch for Where Dreams Descend sounds phenomenal. I’ve read some of these books already, but I should definitely read some more of them. I’ve been considering reading the Poppy Wars, but I’m kind of on the fence about all the content.

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    1. the pitch really does sound amazing! i’m hoping it doesn’t disappoint ❤ and aahh yes the poppy war!! for me personally, it overall wasn't too graphic except for one part in the middle of the book (if you need, i'd be happy to look up chapter numbers for you!) but your health/safety comes first no matter what 💕

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  8. I looove recommendations post like this!! 😍 And I’m glad that I got to read some of these and have almost the same feelings as you. White Tiger by Aravind Adiga and The Kite Runner are books written by Asians and featuring Asian characters, that I think should be read by everyone

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  9. Amazing post as always!! 💞💞
    Seeing the Spin the Dawn quote here reminded me how much I love it 🤧
    I’ve never read an adult fantasy before, but hearing you scream TPW and Jade City is definitely making me itch to pick them up 👀
    Ahh, I can’t wait for my preorder of The Henna Wars to get here and for all those amaizng releases 🤩

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  10. What an excellent list, thank you so much for sharing! so many of these books are on my TBR, I’m so excited to read them. I actually got a great deal on an ebook of Spin the Dawn yesterday, so I’m excited to finally read that one and hope I’ll love it! 🙂 I still have Picture us in the light on my wishlist because of you, I am so impatient to get to it ❤ and Darius, ahh I love Darius so much! 🙂

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    1. ah i hope you get to read a bunch of these books soon!! i’m so excited to see your thoughts on spin the dawn — i absolutely adored it and it’s such a gorgeous story! and AH it makes me so happy that you put picture us in the light on your tbr and read darius because of me 🥺🥺

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  11. aahhh love from a to z is soooo good!! i love it so much and i’m glad you love it too!
    also, you are RIGHT to be anticipating Girl, Serpent, Thorn because it DELIVERS. i honestly loved it so much and i can’t wait for it to be out so that everyone can read it too!
    The Love & Lies of Rukhsana Ali is a book that i want to get into this month! it looks sooo good!!
    amazing list!!!!!!! ❤️

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    1. seeing you and so many others love girl, serpent, thorn has made me even more excited for it!! it’s like one of those books i feel like i need to have an arc of yet am doing absolutely nothing to get it lmaooo

      yay i hope you love the love & lies!! i’ve heard some mixed things so i’m a little nervous but… sapphic asians 🥺

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  12. I kinda have been wanting to read Girl, Serpent, Thorn (And by that I mean I’ve been salivating)

    Henna Wars sounded SO good, I’m glad to hear you liked it. I’ve already done my book-buying for this month, but maybe next month…

    Anyway, this is just a wonderful list, I love it!

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  13. Yes for Asian books!! Again, I’m so happy that I’ve already read about half of the books in a recommendation post FOR ONCE. But I can’t wait to read We Hunt the Flame!! Everyone loves it, and it’s one of the few books I have a physical copy of—I need to get to it. Also, I wasn’t really interested in Picture Us in the Light before because the first time I saw someone review it, their opinion was negative, but I’ve been seeing more and more people (mostly Asian people) citing it as one of their fave books, so now I’m definitely reading it!!

    your TBR looks so good too! I hope you enjoy Steel Crow Saga and Not Your Sidekick more than I did :(( I’m also super excited to read Where Dreams Descend 😍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. aahh i’m looking forward to your thoughts on it! i actually thought it was super boring in the beginning but i pushed through it and ended up enjoying it (so basically i get why some people don’t love it lmao). and aahh that makes me so excited to hear!! i feel like it’s pretty well-loved by the limited people i’ve seen talking about it!

      OH NO i’m so sad to hear you didn’t enjoy those, especially SCS 😦 was it a personal issue?

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      1. I actually attempted to buddy read We Hunt the Flame with Taasia a while ago, but she was having problems getting into the story, so we had to stop :”) I was actually enjoying it though! & with Not Your Sidekick, I feel like it’s best to go into it with kinda low expectations? It isn’t the best plot and worldbuilding-wise, but the sentiment is there, if that makes sense. As for Steel Crow Saga, I don’t know what happened 😂 I just did nOT agree with it at all. The characters were all annoying and I got super bored about halfway through. I almost never DNF, but that was one that I had to since it was putting me in a slump :((

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        1. oh i’m glad you were enjoying whtf!! i hope you can pick it up soon. and yeah, i don’t think i’m expecting like Too Much from not your sidekick, so that’s good to hear! and omg i’m so sorry about steel crow saga 😭😭 i think you’re like the first person i know who didn’t like it

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  14. What an amazing list! 🥰 There are so many books listed here that I’m dying to read like The Gilded Wolves, Spin the Dawn, Darius the Great Is Not Okay Forest of a Thousand Lanterns and We Hunt the Flame 😊 I highly recommend Not Your Sidekick, it was such a heartwarming, comforting book and had a really sweet romance 🥰

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  15. I’m interested in lots of books you put here in the list! Both from the darker side books sounds intriguing to me and Monstress, though… The cover alone is enough to grab my attention! A Wish in the Dark sounds fun too. I’ve been meaning to read MG. I’ve heard lots of good things about Picture Us in the Light and Darius the Great has been in my list since forever! This is a great list, May! Thank you so much for making it! I’m going to save this post for future reference 💖

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  16. This is an amazing list, May!! Thank you for putting this together, and I also love how you set it up too!💗I want to read a lot of these, especially A Wish in the Dark (which I just got from the library and I’m SO excited about that!!), The Henna Wars, and Spin the Dawn!! Also, Darius the Great is the best and I should give it a reread this month for sure. Thank you for the recommendations!

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  17. I think all of these are already on my TBR and so many of them are high priority reads at that!! The main three are Poppy War, Forest Of A Thousand Lanterns and Spin The Dawn though. I literally don’t know how I haven’t read those ones yet as they all sound incredible. And I recently added A Wish In The Dark to my TBR as it sounds like a fantastic Les Mis retelling.
    The ones that are still due to come out sound incredible too 😍 I have to look up the last of them but Where Dreams Descend is definitely in my top five most anticipated releases of the year. Girl, Serpent, Thorn sounds incredible and so does Star Daughter – plus it’s such a stunning cover 😍
    Wonderful list. I hope you love them all when you get to them.

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    1. i am so happy to see that the poppy war is a high priority read for you!! it’s truly the best 🥺 i hope you can get around to it and also forest of a thousand lanterns + spin the dawn soon! and aahhh yay it makes my heart burst when i see people have added a wish in the dark to their tbrs!!

      i’ve just gotten an arc of girl, serpent, thorn and i’m absolutely dying to read it! and where dreams descend has the most amazing pitch/premise, i hope it doesn’t disappoint!!

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      1. I definitely hope to once I’ve shaken off my reading slump and finished the library books that I have out. They all sound incredible 😍

        Aww yay that’s amazing. I hope you end up loving it and I can’t wait to see what you think of it 💕 and yes, me too!

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