My favorite challenges, of course, are the ones that reward me for something I’m already doing. (This is one reason I sometimes write finished tasks on my to-do list so I can pre-emptively check some off.) So I’m participating in the Year of the Asian Reading Challenge 2019 to try and win prizes for books I’d read anyway. The challenge is to read as many books by Asian authors as I can. Books must be started and finished in 2019 to count. You can learn more and join the challenge here.


Current rank: Giant Panda (31-40 books)

Goal rank: Malayan Tapir (21-30 books)

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

  • nothing

Here’s what I’ve read this year:

  1. The Problem with Helena, Joy Chen (4/5)
  2. The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Lisa See (5/5)
  3. Mambo in Chinatown, Jean Kwok (5/5)
  4. Monkey, by Wu Cheng’en, translated by Arthur Waley (3.5/5)
  5. Diamond Head, by Cecily Wong (4.5/5)
  6. The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu (4.5/5)
  7. Hello Kitty Must Die, Angela Choi (4/5)
  8. American Woman, Susan Choi (2.5/5)
  9. Repentance, Andrew Lam, MD (4.5/5)
  10. Saving Sight, Andrew Lam, MD (5/5)
  11. The Queen of the Night, Alexander Chee (3/5)
  12. Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, Bich Minh Nguyen (5/5)
  13. Pachinko, Min Jin Lee (5/5)
  14. Parenting Forward, Cindy Wang Brandt (5/5) (I built her website!)
  15. Saving Fish from Drowning, Amy Tan (5/5)
  16. Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng (5/5)
  17. Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng (5/5)
  18. The Island of Sea Women, Lisa See (4.5/5)
  19. Dreams of Joy, Lisa See (3.5/5)
  20. The Impossible Girl, Lydia Kang (4/5)
  21. Searching for Sylvie Lee, Jean Kwok (5/5)
  22. The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan (4/5)
  23. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, Dai Sijie (4/5)
  24. The Incendiaries, R.O. Kwon (3/5)
  25. The Bondmaid, Catherine Lim (5/5)
  26. Fasting, Feasting, Anita Desai (3/5)
  27. Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan (4/5)
  28. China Rich Girlfriend, Kevin Kwan (4/5)
  29. Rich People Problems, Kevin Kwan (5/5)
  30. The Poppy War, R.F. Kuang (4/5)
  31. The Wall of Storms, Ken Liu (5/5)
  32. The Paper Menagerie, Ken Liu (5/5)

A note about my ratings: I treat reading much like I treat eating: I like most of what I choose to read, and I choose to read what I will probably like. So there aren’t going to be many books I read and dislike. If I’m grazing in my typical literary pastures (which range from memoir to sci-fi but I hang out mostly in contemporary fiction), it takes a lot for me to not like a book. My ratings are based on overall impressions, not detailed analysis of literary merit.

Here’s what’s in my book bucket or on my to-read list (in no particular order):

  • Making Paper Cranes: Toward an Asian American Feminist Theology, Mihee Kim-kort
  • Searching for Sylvie Lee, Jean Kwok
  • Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan (no, I haven’t read it yet, so sue me)
  • The Joy-Luck Club, Amy Tan (or this one, keep your qipao on)
  • The Island of Sea Women, Lisa See
  • Dreams of Joy, Lisa See
  • basically anything else by Lisa See that I haven’t read
  • 1Q84, Haruki Murakami
  • The Collected Schizophrenias, Esme Weijun Wang
  • The Border of Paradise, Esme Weijun Wang