Year of the Asian Reading Challenge 2019

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: Philippine Tarsier (1-10 books)

Goal rank: Malayan Tapir (21-30 books)

Here’s what I’m currently reading:

  • Monkey, by Wu Cheng’en, translated by Arthur Waley

Here’s what I’ve read this year:

  • The Problem with Helena, Joy Chen (4/5)
  • The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, Lisa See (4.5/5)

A note about my ratings: I treat reading much like I treat eating: I like reading lots of genres, 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):

  • Mambo in Chinatown, Jean Kwok
  • Searching for Sylvie Lee, Jean Kwok
  • The Grace of Kings, Ken Liu
  • Making Paper Cranes: Toward an Asian American Feminist Theology, Mihee Kim-kort
  • Pachinko, Min Jin Lee
  • 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


  1. What a fantastic list, Jennifer, and thank you for including two of my books – I really hope you’ll enjoy them! You’re including some of my favorite writers (and very lovely people), like Min, Lisa and Amy. Have fun!

  2. Author

    Jean, you and Lisa are definitely in my top five “read EVERYTHING they publish” authors!!

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