Welcome back to another week of “Wow, I can’t believe that actually happened. Let’s counteract that with books feat. amazing representation!”
Honestly, this is basically what my recommendation posts are turning into (see last week’s Combat Biphobia with These Awesome Book Recs! 🏳️🌈💗💜💙), but I don’t mind! I love spreading positivity as a reaction to negativity, so it’s time to chat about amazing Asian books I love and am excited for!
We’ve got backlist titles and frontlist ones and ones that don’t even come out this year OR next year, but you better bet this post is gonna be filled with all the awesome books with Asian protagonists.
Some things to note:
- For the sake of this post, I’m going to limit it to also Asian MCs by Asian authors. But non-Asian authors’ fantasies that I have read an loved do exist!
- This is definitely NOT a comprehensive list, and there are definitely authors I’m missing from this list, as well as second books in the series & upcoming Asian novels by these authors. So just keep in mind, you can definitely check out the authors’ Goodreads pages to see what other projects they have coming up!
- Similarly, all the Goodreads links are in the titles & because there are 50+ (!!!) books in this post, I’m only gonna be writing a line or two about each. BUT CHECK THEM ALL OUT!!!
(Also, if there are any I’m missing, which there is sure to be, I’d totally appreciate it if you let me know in the comments!)
Shadow of the Fox by Julie Kagawa
I LOVED reading Shadow of the Fox and it was definitely one of my favorite reads from this month! I definitely recommend this one to everyone looking for a Japanese inspired fantasy featuring magic, a hero’s journey, and a casts of endearing characters!
The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi
If you’re into lush writing, you HAVE to check out Roshani Chokshi’s The Star-Touched Queen. Not only is it gorgeous and lyrical, but it’s still got a really solid plot and talking horses and all sorts of awesome mythology.
An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
If you haven’t heard of An Ember in the Ashes…what are you doing you need to pick this up now. It’s such an engrossing series and I definitely binge read the entire first two books in a day because I just couldn’t help myself. That‘s how good this book is. Go go go.
The Library of Fates by Aditi Khorana
This definitely surprised me in how much I loved reading! It’s based on Indian mythology and the plot was definitely engaging and I adore all the incredible magic and gods that were featured in this book.
Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao
If you’re looking for an East Asian Evil Queen retelling, Julie C. Dao’s got you covered! This is such a magical and engrossing read with Xifeng’s fall from grace and her descent to villainy–plus, it’s companion novel (that you can read as a standalone) comes out this year and I’m SO excited!
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh
For a high stakes Japanese fantasy, definitely pick up Renee Ahdieh’s Flame in the Mist! This one has so many twisty elements to the series, as well as a swoon-worthy romance and a nice twist on well-loved tropes.
A Spark of White Fire by Sangu Mandanna
Although this one’s usually classified as sci-fi, I’d actually recommend for fantasy readers because off the magic and gods featured in this series. This book is so amazing with its really heart-breaking ending (I NEED the sequel) and political machinations! Inspired by ancient Indian mythology.
The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco
One of the few Southeast Asian inspired fantasies out there, The Bone Witch is a dark and magical read fully of witchery and monsters you won’t want to put down! I definitely loved reading & am excited to pick up book 2!
Markswoman by Rati Mehrota
I’ve heard so many great things about Markswoman and can’t wait to pick this one up! It’s South-Asian inspired full of magic and warriors and looks like an amazing fantasy novel!
A Thousand Beginnings and Endings edited by Ellen Oh & Elise Chapman
If you’re looking for something a little shorter, then check out this exclusively Asian anthology, edited by Ellen Oh and Elise Chapman! There are so many amazing authors contributing to this and you don’t want to miss their awesome #OwnVoices mythological short stories!
For a Muse of Fire by Heidi Heilig
I love the sound of mixing East Asian and French culture in For a Muse of Fire and have so many high hopes for this read! It sounds so amazing, and based off of the preorder swag (the songs!!!) it’ll be both spell-binding and magical.
The Reader by Traci Chee
I have been waiting to pick this up for so long, and with book 3’s release approaching, I definitely am ready to start on this series! It features the power of words, as well as pirates and assassins and all sorts of fantasy elements that I can’t wait to read!
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
If you’re looking for both a gorgeous, East Asian story of female strength, as well as a f/f love story, you’re definitely going to have to pick up Girls of Paper and Fire! This read is not only magical and featuring a gorgeous world, it’s also a story of inner strength and fighting for what–and who–you believe in.
Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix by Julie C. Dao
I mentioned earlier in the post the companion novel to Kingdom of the Blazing Phoenix, Forest of a Thousand Lanterns, and you definitely don’t need to read FOTL to read this Snow White retelling (although I’m sure it’ll provide good background). But I’m so so excited to dive into my ARC of this because Julie’s writing is so engaging and definitely something I want more of!
Empress of All Seasons by Emiko Jean
This sounds like such a cool Hunger Games meets Japanese mythology with its vicious rooms of different seasons and competing contestants! Plus, there’s magic and romance and hidden secrets, and I’m so excited to dive into this!
Empire of Sand by Tasha Suri
Ahhh this sounds so amazing! A Mughal-India inspired fantasy full of magic and gods and empires and deserty vibes–which are all things I love. I can’t wait to pick this one up next month, especially after reading all of the awesomw comp titles!
The Girl King by Mimi Yu
I am so fortunate to have received an ARC of this from a friend, and not only am I excited for this because here’s another Asian girl on a cover!!! But it also sounds amazing and fierce and a good play on the sibling fight for the throne trope!
Descendant of the Crane by Joan He
Not only are there Game of Throne comps for this, but there’s also a whole bunch of symbolism and sacrifice themes that I’m so excited for! Plus I love the idea of being torn between multiple decisions, which is something the main character seems to face. Very excited for this one!
The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad
This is one I’ve only hear about recently, but I love the idea of multiple cultures coming together and djinn and magic, and this is sounds like such an interesting read just from the summary–I can’t wait!
The Tiger at Midnight by Swati Teerdhala
I am such a sucker for romantic fantasies and this romance between a soldier and an assassin is one I’m desperately looking forward to–especially with the Indian mythology woven in! I have the eARC, so I’m definitely going to be picking this up soon!
Stronger than a Bronze Dragon by Mary Fan
A fresh new epic fantasy, I’m excited for mechanical dragons and an epic quest and personal growth along journeys. This sounds like such an amazing read and I’m absolutely thrilled for this to come out next year!
Gumiho by Kat Cho
Foxes and magic and romance galore! I’m so excited to read this book featuring magic and friendship and romance and hard decisions, and I can’t wait to pick this up!
Guardians of Dawn by S. Jae-Jones
I loved reading S. Jae-Jones’ Wintersong series, and am so excited to read what she does with this East Asian fantasy! She’s such a great writer, and the sound of a girl-centric narrative feat. elemental powers has got me HOOKED.
Spin the Dawn by Elizabeth Lim
I am such a sucker for fashion stories, but that combined with one of my favorite tropes–dressing up as a boy–is enough to make me want to cry with joy because Elizabeth Lim is writing this story for us. I need this Chinese-inspired fantasy in my hands sooner!!!
Want by Cindy Pon
You WANT to pick this up, especially knowing that its sequel is coming out next year! This was such an amazing science fiction read that I totally loved–especially with its Taiwanese rep in a futuristic setting. It was action-packed and engaging and something you NEED in your life.
Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan
This is one of my favorite Asian sci-fis ever because not only is there an amazing and fierce and ASIAN main protagonist, but some of the side characters’ storylines really resonated with me and my childhood as a POC. There’s a lot more depth than you expect in this, so definitely check it out!
Empress of a Thousand Skies by Rhoda Belleza
I so enjoyed reading this and not only is it a complex read full of different political machinations and elegant plot twists, but it also features a unique structure that keeps you on your toes! You have to pick up this completed Duology ASAP.
Warcross by Marie Lu
I couldn’t forget about the iconic Marie Lu and her amazing virtual reality duology! I definitely found this to be a high-octane thrilling adventure full of complex characters and lots of action–you want to pick this up if you love the sound of virtual reality (and really satisfying series endings).
Exo by Fonda Lee
Aliens! Colonialism! & more! I’m definitely excited for Exo and its sequel Crossfire as I now own a copy and only have to pluck it off my bookshelf and read! I’ve heard amazing things about all of Fonda Lee’s writing and need to pick this one up soon!
Rebel Seoul by Axie Oh
If you’re looking for an action-packed adventure, then Rebel Seoul is for you! This sounds like a very layered and exciting dystopia I have heard nothing but praise for! There’s war and tech and lots of action, and I definitely need to track down a copy because all of my friends have given this 4+ stars.
Science Fiction (Upcoming)
Toxic by Lydia Kang
I just finished reading this a couple days ago and WOW this was such an engrossing read! I zoomed through this quicker than I expected and I absolutely adore the concept of sentient living spaceships (don’t hate it till you try it).
The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah
This has such a cool premise with its futuristic setting and submarine racing!!! The summary sounds so amazing and I can’t wait to find out more about this later in the year! Seriously, SUBMARINE. RACING.
Contemporary Coming of Age
The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan
This book is pure magic. I loved reading and felt such a deep connection with Leigh and her own struggles. The magical realism element was so great and I absolutely adored everything about this book. Go read it.
Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Samira Ahmed’s debut is absolutely stunning in the way it discusses extremely relevant topics of today. I adored both the writing and the plot and even the romance and definitely recommend everyone pick this up!
American Panda by Gloria Chao
Gloria Chao manages to effortlessly capture both one version of the Taiwanese-American experience as well as the college experience–forming a debut you don’t wamy to miss out on! Mei is so relatable and I know you’ll fall in love with her as I did.
Lovely, Dark, and Deep by Justina Chen
This is aimed more towards lowe YA, but that ddoesn’t mean it’s any less amazing. A profound exploration of first love and family and friendship, this book will warm your hearts and wow you at the same time.
Picture Us in the Light by Kelly Loy Gilbert
I’ve definitely heard a lot of praise for Picture Us in the Light and am very excited to read Danny’s story. It sounds almost like a slice-of-life sort of thing, but not 100%. It’s about college and senior year which I’m stressfully experiencing right now, so I definitely could use this.
You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins
This sounds really good because I am so in love with generational stories! And one that heavily features Indian culture sounds really amazing, and is something I’ve been looking forward to and am excited to pick up!
Contemporary Coming of Age (Upcoming)
Internment by Samira Ahmed
Love, Hate & Other Filters was an amazing read from last year and I’m so excited for another hard-hitting and poignant novel from Samira Ahmed! This sounds absolutely amazing and I definitely can’t wait to read another important story from Ahmed.
Hungry Hearts: 13 Tales of Food Love edited by Elise Chapman & Caroline Tung Richmond
FOOD. I love food. I love Asian food. I love family and culture and I’m definitely so excited for this anthology! IT’S A FOOD ANTHOLOGY, OKAY? I can’t not pass this up.
Frankly in Love by David Yoon
The Yoons are like, a total power couple and I’m definitely so excited to read the amazing story Yoon writes us about a Korean-American teen. This one is sure to be super powerful, and I’m excited for more info to be released!
The Summer I Learned Chinese by Lindsay Wong
The main character in this definitely goes through a lot just in the summary, and I’m definitely excited to read how she grows in The Summer I Learned Chinese! And I’m also another one of those somewhat shameful children who can’t speak anything but English, so this is definitely going to be relatable for me!
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Do I even need to say anything about thus? TATBILB is such an icon, even before it got a movie, with how it forged a path for other Asian American writers, and I’ll always love this series. I’ve managed to binge read all three books in one day on two separate occasions!
When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
If you’re looking for something cute and heartwarming and filled with culture, you have to check this out! Sandhya Menon will mame you laugh, swoon, and cry all at the same time with Dimple and Rishi’s adorable romance.
I Believe in a Thing Called Love by Maurene Goo
If you like reading secondhand embarrassment stories, well, Desi has got you covered. Not only is this an adorable romance full of silly and romantic moments, it also was just a total blast to read and one I definitely recommend everyone pick up!
The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo
I LOVED THIS. I know Clara isn’t gor everyone, but her romance with hamlet was so adorable and I love how atmospheric this whole novel was with its amazing girl friendships and food trucks and strong family themes. Kudos to Maurene Goo for another great read.
My So-Called Bollywood Life by Nisha Sharma
If you’re looking for an awesome romance feat. filmakers and falling for the wrong guy, then Nisha Sharma’s got you covered! This os not only a swoon-worthy romance, but it’s also got a whole bunch of awesome Bollywood movie recommendations!
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
This is another rare college YA story, but Penny has such a strong and relatable voice in this, which I adore! I loved how different the voice in this was, as well as the cute, text-heavy relationship that formed.
Contemporary Romance (Upcoming)
Fake It Till You Break It by Jen P. Nguyen
Eep! Not only is there an Asian model on the cover, but it’s a love story feat. an Asian MC, meaning I GET TO SEE MYSELF IN A ROMANCE!!! This is so exciting because I love seeing the idea reinforced that Asian girls can fall in love too!
I Love You So Mochi by Sarah Kuhn
I’m sorry, but I’m just the biggest sucker for food puns. And mochi. And so, I’m definitely so excited to pick up I Love You So Mochi because not only is the title and cover so adorable, the synopsis sounds fantastic!
Misaligned by Gloria Chao
Gloria Chao’s debut was such a great read, and I’m excited for something a little more romance-centric from her! Misaligned sounds so great and I’m ready for Gloria to write another really relatable story for all the Taiwanese-American teens out there, like me!
A Pho Love Story by Loan Lee
COMPETING RESTAURANTS SOUNDS SO CUTE. Like, omg, I love eating pho and I love the sound of competing restaurants (gives off non tragic Romeo & Juliet vibes) and so I’m definitely so so excited for A Pho Love Story to come out!
A Line in the Dark by Malinda Lo
I’ve heard so many amazing things about Malinda Lo’s work and am definitely excited to pick up A Line in the Dark! As you can see, there are so few Asian mystery/thriller novels, but I’m glad we have A Line in the Dark, which I can’t wait to pick up!
The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf
Based on the Malaysian race riots of the late 1960s, The Weight of Our Sky looks like a poignant read that I’m so excited for! SEA rep is so rare in American YA, and I’m really excited to read all the amazing things Hanna has written!
Ten Thousand Rivers by June Hur
Set in 1800s Korea, Ten Thousand Rivers features a murder investigation and lots of mystery and intrigue! I’m definitely really ready to read this, although it comes out in more than a year (2020)!