Book List

12 Rad Books Featuring Asian Protagonists

May 23, 2022
The Riveted Team
Believe In Your Shelf

It’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month so we wanted to share some of our favorite books that feature amazing Asian protagonists! Sit back, relax, and read about some fantastic books that you’ll definitely want to add to your TBR.

12 Rad Books Featuring Asian Protagonists

1. To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

I couldn’t make this list and not include Jenny and Lara Jean! I especially love this series because of Lara Jean’s identity as a half-Korean, half-Caucasian young woman and how she introduces others to her culture (Korean yogurt, anyone?)

2. Want by Cindy Pon

Jason Zhou survives in a divided society where the elite use their wealth to buy longer lives. The rich wear special suits, protecting them from the pollution and viruses that plague the city, while those without suffer illness and early deaths. Once you’ve read Want, check out the sequel, Ruse!

3. Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Penny’s awkwardness is deeply relatable, as is her trouble figuring out an IRL relationship when it’s so much easier to keep in touch with her new friend, Sam, over text. It’s great being able to see her grow, though, not only into a good friend, but into her own person as the story progresses.

4. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Dimple struggles with following her parents’ traditions while paving her own path as an aspiring web developer in this hilarious and romantic book. Both Dimple and Rishi figure out how to follow their dreams while also embracing a connection that their family can see, even if they don’t.

5. The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

Jason Zhou, his friends, and Daiyu are back in the sequel to Cindy Pon’s sci-fi thriller Want.

After the events of the last book, Jin, the ruthless billionaire and Daiyu’s father, is out for blood and has Jany, a childhood friend of Linyi, murdered and steals the tech that Jany refused to sell him. Lingyi is now the only one who has access to the encrypted info, putting her own life is now in jeopardy.

6. American Panda by Gloria Chao

Mei has a master plan, at least according to her parents: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, and have kids. When she meets Darren Takahashi (and accepts that she hates germs), she decides she has to forge her own path towards a future that’s more her own.

7. Shine by Jessica Jung

Crazy Rich Asians meets Gossip Girl by way of Jenny Han in this knock-out debut about a Korean American teen who is thrust into the competitive, technicolor world of K-pop, from Jessica Jung, K-pop legend and former lead singer of one of the most influential K-pop girl groups of all time, Girls Generation. After you’ve read Shine, check out the must-read sequel, Bright!

8. Yolk by Mary H.K. Choi

From New York Times bestselling author Mary H.K. Choi comes a funny and emotional story about two estranged sisters and how far they’ll go to save one of their lives—even if it means swapping identities.

9. Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

From William C. Morris Award Finalist S.K. Ali comes an unforgettable romance that is part The Sun Is Also a Star mixed with Anna and the French Kiss, following two Muslim teens who meet during a spring break trip.

10. The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

The Weight of Our Sky is a beautiful and heart wrenching story that takes place during the 1969 race riots in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Beatles-loving Melati Ahmad is just like any other teenager at the movies when violence erupts between the Chinese and the Malay. Her entire world shifts as tensions escalate in this heart-pounding debut.

11. Queen of the Tiles by Hanna Alkaf

They Wish They Were Us meets The Queen’s Gambit in the world of competitive Scrabble when a teen girl is forced to investigate the mysterious death of her best friend a year after the fact when her Instagram comes back to life with cryptic posts and messages.

12. Permanent Record by Mary H.K. Choi

Pablo Rind is a half-Korean, half-Pakistani young man living in Brooklyn when he meets pop star Leanna Smart. One of the best things about Pablo’s character is that he works in a bodega and runs a fairly popular junk food Instagram account. His own heritage inspires many of the food choices he describes in the book and, let me tell you, they are mouthwatering.

Looking for more? Check out these must-read books featuring powerful BIPOC characters.

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