Top 5 Saturday: Books with Asian Settings

Hi friends, I hope everyone is having a wonderful Saturday! Just five minutes ago I discovered a ‘new’ meme on Leelynn’s blog and I’m so excited to take part in it. This Top 5 series was created by Mandy @ Devouring Books and it’s the Saturday meme I’ve been waiting for! The rules are simple:

  • Share your top 5 books of the current topic– these can be books that you want to read, have read and loved, have read and hated – you can do it any way you want.
  • Tag the original post
  • Tag 5 people

I won’t be tagging five people but I do tag anyone who wants to participate! This week’s topic is: books with Asian settings. I love this prompt but I’m also a little embarrassed to admit that compared to all the other books I read, I actually haven’t read many with Asian settings… It’s not that I don’t want to or that I’m not interested, I actually have quite a few sitting on my shelves, I just don’t make a conscious effort to pick them up? (that probably sounds really bad lol) BUT this year I am making more of an effort to diversify my reads and that means giving high priority to the Asian books on my shelf! For now, here are the books I’ve read and loved with Asian settings:

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
One of the best books I’ve read. It’s heartbreaking but hopeful. It’s about family, friendship, and especially forgiveness. I learned so much about the culture and norms in Afghanistan. It’s not an easy read, but it’s a good one! It’s one of my all time favorites.

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
This was one of my favorite books last year. I was really surprised by it because I had never heard of the author before and I didn’t really know what to expect. It’s a family saga set in Korea and Japan, and I learned so much about the relationship between the two countries through this book than I ever have anywhere else. It’s so good.

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
I read this earlier this year and it broke my heart. While some of it is set in the US, the majority of it is set in Taiwan. Pan’s writing makes it easy to imagine yourself standing in the sweltering humidity of a bustling city. Plus, the food (omg the food) and the culture is so richly illustrated and adds a great deal to the atmosphere of the novel.

Monstress Series by Marjorie M. Liu
Yes I did include a graphic novel on this list. This book is set in a steampunk matriarchal Asian society in the 1900s. It has some of the craziest and darkest world building I’ve ever seen and while some of it, especially the art work, is creepy AF, it’s just so freaking cool! Since the content is pretty dark I wouldn’t say it’s for everyone but if you’re at all curious and want to appreciate stunning art work, pick this up!

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
This was one of the books that I read at uni and I remember falling deep into it. It follows the story of an escaped Australian convict that tries to disappear on the streets of Bombay (modern day Mumbai), and we follow him as he teaches in the slums, appeases the mafia, falls in love with Bombay, bollywood and an enchanting woman. It’s written so vividly that you fell yourself being pulled into the gritty streets of Bombay, and then you surprise yourself by finding that you don’t want to leave. Although it’s really long, it’s worth it.

Do you have any favorite books with Asian settings?
Let me know in the comments and let’s chat!

22 thoughts on “Top 5 Saturday: Books with Asian Settings

    1. I agree, the first half was better but I still really enjoyed the whole book. I didn’t have any expectations going into it so I was just pleasantly surprised πŸ™‚ Haha it’s good to be critical and know what you like and don’t like. For so long I was always I LOVE IT ALL with the books I read πŸ˜‚ Now I’m at least starting to think when I read haha

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      1. Oh my gosh I feel the same. I used to rate everything four and five stars… although this year has been like that….. πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€” Maybe I haven’t changed at all!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚

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  1. So glad to have you join!!! I actually haven’t read any books on your list. Shantaram sounds absolutely incredible! I love books about criminals. I am so glad that you joined this week because these are great recommendations! I will have to add them to my TBR.

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    1. Yay! Thanks for thinking of such a fun meme πŸ™‚ I’ve been looking to fill my Saturdays up with a weekly! Shantaram was great and although a lot of the details are blurry, there are some scenes that were so vividly portrayed they’re still in my mind! Hope you enjoy these if you pick them up πŸ™‚

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  2. I really want to read more books set in other countries, so thanks for these recommendations!

    I have enjoyed several of Amy Tan’s books set (partially) in China. My favorite was The Kitchen God’s Wife. I also liked Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay, it is set in a fictional version of Chinese history but it still has a definite Asian flavor. And The Makioka Sisters was very enlightening about Japanese society (set in the years leading up to WWII, but I think many things have not changed so much). Those are three I can think of off the top of my head!

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    1. Wow, I haven’t heard of any of the ones you’ve mentioned and I’m always looking to diversify my reads too (especially of Asian authors)! They all sound really interesting and I love reading a good book surrounding the WWII era, so thanks for the recommendations too πŸ˜ƒ

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  3. I think I have only read a couple asian inspired books minus mangas and I wasn’t a fan of the plot or characters but I did enjoy the world.

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