KNY’s Summer Reading List
With winter winding down, spring is just around the corner, and soon it’ll be summer before you know it. Time to retire those sweaters and trade them in for bathing suits. Get ready to bring out the beach chair and sunscreen, but wait! Before heading out in the sun, don’t forget to pack a book with you to have while sitting pool side.
Whether you’re looking for a fast read or something to make you laugh, cry, and keep you guessing until the end, we complied a list of books to get you through the summer by some of our favorite Asian American writers.
Crazy Rich Asians, Kevin Kwan
With the movie adaptation currently in pre-production (Rumor has it, Constance Wu is in talks to play the lead!), there has been a lot buzz surrounding Kwan’s novel about a woman from New York, Rachel Chu, who travels to Singapore with her handsome boyfriend, Nicholas Young, for the summer only discover that he comes from a family of extreme wealth. This book has the perfect amount of drama and comedy, and its a part of a trilogy that Kwan created. Its sequel China Rich Girlfriend came out in 2015 while the third book, Rich People Problems, is set to be released later this year.
The Joy Luck Club, Amy Tan
If you’re looking for a more classic read, look no further than Tan’s 1989 novel about four Chinese American immigrant families in San Francisco who start a club named after the book’s title, and play mahjong for money while eating a variety a food. At the heart of the story is its heartfelt portrayal of mother-daughter relationships that will make you reminisce about your own mom.
A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara
Yanagihara’s award-winning novel A Little Life about four young men—Malcolm, JB, Willem, and Jude—who move to New York City after graduating from college is not your typical coming of age tale. The book focuses on these four characters as they struggle with money, addiction, and their own relationships. While this book tackles a lot of heavy issues, Yanagihara’s beautiful prose will surely mesmerize you and make it worth the read. Just don’t forget to pack a box of tissues along with the sunscreen.
Dear Jenny, We Are All Find, Jenny Zhang
If prose isn’t your thing, you can always venture in the world of poetry. Zhang’s poems are raw, honest, relatable, and at times vulnerable as she explores and opens herself up through her writing. Jenny is the fierce, badass friend we all need in our lives and we’re oh so glad we have her poems to get us through the season!
Queen of the Night, Alexander Chee
Lilliet Berne is a legendary soprano at the Paris Opera, except she’s never performed an original role which proves one’s immorality as a singer. One is finally offered to her. However, she realizes it’s based on a dark secret in her past that only four people know about. Who betrayed her? Part mystery, part historical fiction, Chee’s unique writing style mixed with the book’s suspense and interesting characters will be sure to keep you on the edge of your seat until the end.
The Refugees, Viet Thanh Nguyen
Nguyen’s first novel, The Sympathizer, about an agent living a double life in America after the Fall of Saigon, was one of the most critically acclaimed books of 2015 earning him a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Now he’s back with his short story collection, The Rufugees, which follows the lives of different Vietnamese refugees as they adjust to their new lives in America. With the current political climate, there has never been a more appropriate time for this book’s release.