WSIRN Ep 133: Authors who get where you’re coming from

Finding characters to relate to can change the lives of young readers and longtime bookworms alike. Guest Sachi Argabright discovered a rich vein of books by Asian American authors who inspire her, and it’s given her reading life wings! In today’s episode, I’m topping up her list with unique and soon-to-be-released titles so she can stay in that happy place for a long time to come. 

I was so excited about Sachi’s reading goals that I heaped even more titles than usual on her To Be Read list—and some of them happen to be titles from my newly released Summer Reading Guide. We also discuss travel, reading goals, book organization (see her gorgeous “favorites bookshelf” above), and much much more.

Let’s get to it.

What Should I Read Next #133: Authors who get where you're coming from with Sachi Argabright


Books mentioned in this episode:
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• Little Fires Everywhere, by Celeste Ng (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Everything I Never Told You, by Celeste Ng (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
China Rich Girlfriend, by Kevin Kwan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• So Much I Want To Tell You: Letters to My Little Sister, by Anna Akana (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
 Bridge of Clay, by Markus Zusak (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• And Then There Were None, by Agatha Christie (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Nancy Drew series, by Carolyn Keene (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Hardy Boys series, by Franklin W. Dixon (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Murder on the Orient Express, by Agatha Christie (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Miss Marple series, by Agatha Christie (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, by Agatha Christie (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Not My White Savior: A Memoir in Poems, by Julayne Lee (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• All The Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Circe, by Madeleine Miller (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• A Kind of Freedom, by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Uncommon Type: Some Stories, by Tom Hanks (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• The Girl Who Drank the Moon, by Kelly Barnhill (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Convenience Store Woman, by  Sayaka Murata(Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• What We Were Promised, by Lucy Tan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
 Einstein’s Dreams, by Alan Lightman (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
 Ursula Under, by Ingrid Hill (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Rainbirds, by Clarissa Goenawan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Never Let Me Go, by Kazuo Ishiguro (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)
• Echo, by Pam Munoz Ryan (Amazon | Barnes and Noble)

Also mentioned:
Apply to be a guest on WSIRN!
• Reading Women podcast (Check out WSIRN Episode 130 for Anne’s conversation with Kendra and Autumn)
• All the Books podcast
• Recommended podcast
• Sachi recommends Celeste Ng as a great follow on Twitter

Readers, I have big news: my new 2018 Summer Reading Guide is now live. This is my personal, hand-curated collection of 25 of the season’s best reads. I’ve read and loved every one, and I tell you what you need to know so YOU can decide which books are right for your summer reading list. Don’t miss it.

What books have surprised you with the characters to relate to in a whole new way? Tell us all about it in comments. 


Leave A Comment
  1. Kumari says:

    As a woman of color myself, this has got to be one of my favorite episodes of all time! Thank you, Anne, for your attention to diversity and inclusion in your projects. 🙂

    • Kelly Face says:

      You may want to try the Rei Shimura mysteries by Sujata Massey as well as the historical mysteries by Lara Jo Rowland.

      Lafcadio Hearn also wrote several books about Japan I especially liked Kwaidan – a series of Japanese ghost stories.

      Liza Dalby wrote Geisha and Kimono. They’re both nonfiction and very interesting.

  2. Brittany says:

    I really enjoyed this episode although my heart hurt when you said you didn’t like All The Light We Cannot See!
    I want to recommend a couple of books to you based on what you’ve enjoyed. The Leavers by Lisa Ko is a story of a Chinese immigrant woman struggling to make it in New York and raise her son, I think the story spans about 10-15 years. Another book I enjoyed that spans several generations is Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi- this is not about Asian culture, it is the story of 2 African women who are half sisters and each chapter is about a different generation of the family for 10 generations and it is a beautiful book.

    • Sachi says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the episode (Sorry on not liking All the Light – I really wanted to!!) Thank you for the recommendations! I have both The Leavers and Homegoing in my possession – I just need to read them!

  3. Margaret says:

    Commenting before I even finish the episode! I was THRILLED to hear you mention A Tale for the Time Being – it was one of the best books I read (listened to) in 2017. HIGHLY recommended. It’s beautiful. It’s heart-aching. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Love it! I would also highly recommend listening to the audiobook as it’s read by the author – which helped me not get caught up in pronunciations! Finally, I heard about this book from the podcast, A Few Things with Claire and Erica’s book club. The interview with Ruth on Episode 65 is really wonderful and she talks about how she became a character in the novel. (Also did you know that she’s not only an author, but also a filmmaker and zen Buddhist priest!!) (They’re no longer doing the bookclub, but I recommend their past selections and conversations about them.)

    • Sachi says:

      After Anne recommended A Tale For the Time Being, I went out and bought it! After I finish my stack of library books – I will read it right away. It sounds like such a neat book! And thank you for the tidbit about Ozeki’s interview (so cool that she wears so many hats!). I’ll have to check out the book club episodes, ASAP!

    • Jess Schula says:

      Came here to say how happy I was to hear Tale For The Time Being recommended! I barely finished it before I was telling everyone around me about it.

      Thank you for the podcast episode reference. I’ve never heard an interview with her before.

    • Gloria says:

      Yes! A Tale for the time Being was also on my best of 2017 list. I really loved it and highly recommend it, if it sounds up your alley at all. It was also fun to do some research to find out which parts of the characters Ruth and Oliver were fact and fiction and learn more about their very interesting works. So happy to hear it recommended on the show. And thanks Margaret for the heads up to the podcast episode with Ruth, I am looking forward to listening to it.

    • Sachi says:

      I have a couple of Grace Lin chapter books, but still need to read them! I haven’t heard of Bel Canto! I’ll check it out!

      • Margaret says:

        I also thought of Bel Canto while listening to the episode! It’s about a hostage situation in South America, but two of the characters are a Japanese businessman and an opera singer. I loved this book, but two of my best friends strongly disliked it… I hope you get a chance to check it out!

        • Sachi says:

          Very, very intrigued by the two Japanese businessmen and the opera singer! So interesting that they’re in the same book! I’ll have to check it out 🙂

  4. Stacy says:

    Wow – this was definitely one of my favorite episodes as Sachi and I have such similar tastes, not too mention we both studied accounting. I really do need to finally read The Book Thief since she rated it so highly. Her other two favorites are five star reads for me as well and I agree that Celeste Ng is wonderful. Pachinko is a book that has stayed with me long after I read it.

    My husband and I went to Tokyo last November and loved it! She’s absolutely right, the people there are incredibly nice and helpful. It’s the cleanest and safest city I’ve ever been in and super easy to navigate. Oh and the food was amazing!

    My recommendations would be:
    Pull Me Under by Kelly Luce – the main character is a bi-racial Japanese/American who ends up back in Japan upon her father’s death. This book got an extra star from me simply for her description of eating pickled plum onigri which is one of my all time favorite foods.

    Nakano Thrift Shop by Hiromi Kawakami – Quaint little book about life and love set in a thrift shop in Japan.

    Chemistry by Weike Wang – Graduate student dealing with the demands of her courses and her Chinese American parents.

    Japantown by Barry Lancet – Thriller set partly in San Francisco and partly in Japan. It’s the first in a series. The protagonist owns a detective agency in Japan and an art gallery in San Francisco.

    How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia by Mohsin Hamid – An unusual novel told in the guise of a self help book. It’s my favorite book by this author.

    The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen – A collection of short stories about the Vietnamese American experience.

    • Stacy says:

      One other thing in regards to Agatha Christie. I’m currently rereading all of her books in order and would definitely recommend The Murder of Roger Ackroyd as well as Cards on the Table.

      • Meghan says:

        Yes, Murder of Roger Ackroyd is so good! One that I find fascinating from a narrative perspective is Five Little Pigs, which takes place many years after the murder and has chapters (in the form of letters) from the perspective of each of the five witnesses; it makes it so that you, the reader, have all the clues that Poirot has, which is sometimes not the case in other detective fiction. For something more light-hearted and fun, Christie’s Tommy and Tuppence series is delightful! Hercule Poirot’s Christmas and Death on the Nile are two of my other Poirot favorites, and 4:50 from Paddington and Sleeping Murder (featuring Miss Marple) are also great!

        Sachi, I’d encourage you to search for the Agatha Christie facsimile editions – they are cute hardcover reproductions of some original covers and would be perfect for your shelf of favorites! (Roger Ackroyd and Partners in Crime are two of my favorites in terms of cover – even if I know we shouldn’t judge books that way!)

        • Sachi says:

          Oh wow!! Thank you for the book cover recommendation – I’m always looking for pretty looking books for my shelves! 🙂

    • Sachi says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words – I’m glad this episode is one of your favorites (especially from a fellow accountant)! Also, I’m glad you enjoyed Tokyo! We love going there every couple years. We went last summer, and I already want to go back!

      I love your recommendations! I have Pull Me Under, Chemistry, and the Refugees already – so I’ll move those up in my TBR. The other three sounds wonderful as well! When I lived in San Francisco in 2016, I lived very close to Japantown and spent a lot of time there! I miss it a lot, and reading Japantown might be a perfect way to help me re-live my memories! Thanks again 🙂

  5. Stephanie says:

    HI Sachi!
    I really enjoyed this episode, it seems we have similar tastes in books. Here are some of my recommendations…
    Have you read Re Jane by Patricia Park? She is Korean/American and I found this novel so fascinating about her culture and traditions. The main character, Jane, only knows New Jersey as her home and lives with her uncle and family in a Korean neighborhood.

    For your love of Agatha Christie: Hallowe’en Party, The ABC Murders and The Murder at the Vicarage.

    For mystery and suspense: Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Strawser. A group of neighborhood women have a girls night of wine and laughs… don’t want to give too much away and can’t remember if the big moment was mentioned on the jacket cover.

    For YA or middle grade: The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley and the sequel The War I Finally Won. Ada and Jamie, brother and sister, have to leave England during WW2 and live in a safer location in the counrtyside; which is a fact I didn’t know about the war and children.

    For family saga: Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. Hands down the best I’ve read and didn’t want the story to end.

    • Sachi says:

      I’m so glad you enjoyed the episode! I haven’t heard of Re Jane, but it sounds great! Definitely adding that to my Wish List! I have the ABC Murders, but still need to read it, and I have The Murder at the Vicarage on my Wish List. I’ll have to add Hallowe’en Part, as well! Not That I Can Tell is also on my Wish List, but now that you mention it – I might have to get that as one of my Book of the Month picks soon! (I think it’s available there) The War That Saved My Life is also on my Wish List. I’ve heard so many good things about that book, that I might have to go and pick it up! I also recently bought Commonwealth at a library sale, and my local librarian raved about it, too! I’ll have to read it soon!

  6. Susan says:

    Loved this episode and would also add any of the books by Lisa See who is Asian American. My favorite of her books is Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.

    • Sachi says:

      Awesome! I have Snow Flower and the Secret Fan as well as The Tea Girl from Hummingbird Lane already! I’ll checkout Snow Flower first 🙂

    • Janean says:

      I second Lisa See! The whole time I was listening, I was thinking “Lisa See, Lisa See!” My favorite is her most recent The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane. Also excellent are Shanghai Girls and it’s sequel, Dreams of Joy. See is Chinese American. I always learn so much about Chinese culture, customs and history when I read her books. She writes beautifully and her stories are always about the bonds between women. I read everything she releases without hesitation!

      • Sachi says:

        I have The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane! I need to bump that one up the list 🙂 Thank you for the recommendation! I can’t believe I haven’t read Lisa See after everyone has raved about her!

      • Ellen W says:

        Another vote for Lisa See – I think Shanghai Girls is my favorite of hers that I’ve read. I feel like I always learn something new about Chinese and/or Chinese-American culture.

    • Sharyn says:

      Definitely Lisa See. While I didn’t like Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy are great. Lots of research goes into her novels. I had the opportunity to hear her speak. Wonderful!

      Also Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is good.

      • Sachi says:

        Another Lisa See recommendation! I’ll have to check her out 🙂 And all this talk about The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is making me want to re-read it again!! 🙂

        • Natalie Renick says:

          I am so glad to see that “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” was mentioned. Have you read anything else by Jamie Ford? I loved “Songs of Willow Frost” and I can’t wait to read his latest novel.

  7. Amy says:

    One of my favorite episodes of date – I could have just kept listening to the two of you all day!!! Sachi, we seem to have very similar reading tastes and I am looking forward to adding some of these to my TBR !! We also have the Japanese American connection to some degree too! My husband is Japanese American also – my FIL was in the Navy and met and married my wonderful MIL!!! It was great to hear you mention the meaning of your names – it was very important to give our daughters Biblical as well as Japanese names – our oldest is Hannah (spelling like the Bible character) but it in Japanese means Flower (Hana) and the our youngest is Lydia Nyoko – Lydia for the Biblical woman who was the seller of purple and Nyoko which means a Gem or Treasure (and purple cloth was considered a treasure in those times)!

    Thanks again for another great episode and for giving me so many wonderful ideas!!!
    PS… Sachi – love your bookshelves!!!

    • Sachi says:

      Oh wow, Amy! You’re too sweet!! I’m so glad you loved the episode!! I loved hearing your comments about your husband’s family – I’ve found over the years that many Navy couples meet in Japan and move back to the United States! Your daughters’ names are so unique, as well! I’m hoping to give my future kids Japanese names someday!
      Also, thanks for the compliment on my bookshelves! I’m obsessed with them, haha!

  8. Aileen Pelkey says:

    Hello Anne!
    I’m in the middle of listening to this episode and absolutely had to take a moment to make my own Agatha Christie recommendation.
    Like Sachi, one of my favorite books is And Then There Were None, but a very close second favorite is Crooked House. I have enjoyed each Christie book that I’ve read, but this one is a special kind of creepy.

    • Sachi says:

      I am so excited about all these great Agatha Christie recommendations!! This one looks great! I’m totally game for a super creepy read – thanks for the suggestion!

  9. If you’re open to reading a children’s book, I recommend Totto-Chan, which is written as a novel but is based on the author’s own experience attending an alternative school in Tokyo in the 1940s. It was both delightful and interesting! It’s one of the best-selling books of all time in Japan.

    • Sachi says:

      Oooh! I’ll definitely have to check this one out! I wonder if my Mom has heard of this story since it’s a best-seller in Japan.

      • Sachi says:

        Update from my mom: She recognized the author of Totto-Chan, and when she looked up the book she immediately recognized the painter that illustrated the book (Chihiro Iwasaki)! She said Iwasaki is her favorite painter, and she would recognize her painting style anywhere. She said she has to get the book soon, and is excited to read it! Thank you for bringing this book to our attention!! 🙂

  10. Sarah says:

    As I ramped up my reading life a few years back, I needed a short book to get me going. (I was notorious for starting and not finishing books!) To my delight, I found The Housekeeper and the Professor on display at my local library. It’s an unlikely friendship story set in Hiroshima and and a quick read at just 180 pages.

    • Sachi says:

      I’ve never heard of this book! I just read the description, and it sounds wonderful! Adding it to my Wish List now 🙂 Thank you for the recommendation!

  11. Kelsey says:

    I loved this episode! I have spent a fair amount of time in China which affects my interest in the region. I have pared down my recommendation list because it’s out of control, but I think we have similar taste, and Sachi might enjoy these:
    – “Shanghai Diary” by Ursula Bacon. Did you know that during/right before WWII European Jews escaped to Shangai? I didn’t. Amazing non-fiction must-read!
    – “The Painter from Shanghai” by Jennifer Cody Epstein, biographical fiction, really fascinating.
    – “The Girl Who Wrote in Silk” by Kelli Estes (I think this novel has had some love on the podcast in the past). Historical fiction regarding an American-Chinese family in the Pacific Northwest.
    – “White Chrysanthemum” by Mary Lynn Bracht was heartbreaking but such a page turner. I read it shortly after “Pachinko” and really appreciated how they both covered a similar time period and subject matter.
    – “Patriot Number One” by Lauren Hilgers follows a Chinese couple as the immigrate to the US in modern day (nonfiction).
    – Authors Jean Kwok and Anchee Min are also great!
    I also can’t wait for the not-yet-released titles Anne recommended to come out this summer.

    • Sachi says:

      Woah! Thank you so much for all the recommendations! Surprisingly, I haven’t heard of most of them! I’m definitely putting them all on my Wish List, but Shanghai Diary sounds the most intriguing to me! Thanks again 🙂

  12. June says:

    One of my favorite episodes; thank you Sachi and Anne. Now I’m looking at those front-facing books to figure more of Sachi’s recommendations. :)Looks like up she liked Kristin Hannah’s new book? And liked Nightgale not All the Light We Cannot See? So interesting!

    • Sachi says:

      Hi June!! I love that you’re trying to checkout the front facing books for more recommendations! Here is a list so you don’t have to strain your eyes:

      – Top Shelf (Studio Ghibli Books): This shelf has all my favorite art books from Studio Ghibli (famous animation art studio in Japan – comparable to Disney for the US). The two front facing books are for the movies My Neighbor Totoro and the Tale of the Princess Kaguya, my two absolute favorite Ghibli movies! If you’re interested in getting into Japanese animated movies, these two are great starting points. Totoro is a classic (the studio’s logo features Totoro because he became super famous in Japan), and Kaguya is based on a very famous Japanese folktale about a Princess who comes from the moon. Kaguya is also animated in a “watercolor” style, which was extremely difficult to animate but is absolutely stunning to watch.

      – Second Shelf from the Top (Non-Fiction books): I only have one non-fiction shelf, but I’m hoping to expand this in the future. Front facing books for this shelf include The Sun and her Flowers by Rupi Kaur (a beautiful feminist collection of poems), Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan (incredible story that is so fascinating that you’d like it’s fiction), We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (so short, you can read it in one sitting but provides so many profound insights), Sounds Like Me: My Life So Far in Song by Sara Bareilles (Sara is one of my favorite artists, and I loved reading about her life so far), We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union (hilarious and raunchy read, with some very serious topics as well), and What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton (a very honest account of Hillary’s thoughts on the 2016 election).

      – Middle Shelf (Fiction shelf + Harry Potter): This shelf features the Book of the Month books I’ve finished, as well as all my Harry Potter books (original paperbacks, 10th anniversary paperback set, illustrated versions, Fantastic Beasts screenplay and Cursed Child). Front facing books include The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah (I loved the Nightingale, so I had to try this one – I pair read this with my best friend and we both loved it!), Pachinko by Min Jin Lee (best book so far this year), and my signed copy of Little Fires Everywhere (my prized possession, hence the middle spot haha!)

      – Second Shelf from the Bottom (Fiction): More fiction books! Front facing books in this shelf include Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee (I really wanted to work this book into the podcast conversation, but didn’t have a chance. This is a heart-breaking but beautiful story about two sisters and how their relationship is effected by one sister’s mental illness), my signed copy of The Book Thief (my original copy is hidden in the historical fiction section), my small stack of Japanese books I bought it Japantown (in San Francisco) which features a book about Maru the Shiba Inu (a very cute picture book about an adorable Shiba), and Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng (so wonderful, as I mentioned on the podcast).

      Bottom Shelf (Genre Fiction): This shelf features genres such as travel, science/dystopian fiction, fantasy, mystery, historical fiction, classics, and graphic novels/memoirs. The only front facing book in this shelf is the Nightingale by Kristin Hannah (a wonderful WWII book – probably one of my favorite WWII books I’ve read so far) since there are a lot of books on this shelf. Other favorites on this shelf include In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware (Ware has been coined the modern day Agatha Christie. This is a modern twist on the classic “who-dunnit” mystery), Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (based on true events of children who were stolen from poor families and sold into adoption to rich families), and The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (a gorgeous graphic memoir about a family of refugees fleeing the Vietnam War)

      This ended up being a monstrous post, but hopefully it’s helpful!! Happy reading!!

  13. Tracey says:

    Absolutely loved this episode! Sachi’s taste is the most similar to my own of any guest I’ve heard so far. 🙂 I also didn’t enjoy All the Light We Cannot See, though on paper it should be a slam dunk, but I did love the Book Thief and And Then There Were None!

    I recommend Secret Daughter, A Little Life, and Crossover/Rebound, which I’ve loved lately.

    • Sachi says:

      I’m so happy to hear that my book taste is most similar to yours! That’s the best compliment! And finally!! A person who also didn’t like All the Light We Cannot See, haha! We do have similar tastes – because all three of your recommendations are on my Wish List already 🙂 I’ll have to get my hands on them soon!

  14. Nicole says:

    Hi Anne and Sachi!

    I discovered the What Should I Read Next podcast about a year ago and have been an avid listener ever since. I particularly enjoyed this episode featuring Sachi! As an Asian American myself, I love reading books that I can relate to. Many of the books mentioned were ones that I also read and loved! I am currently reading (and thoroughly enjoying) both Rainbirds and A Tale for a Time Being! I’ve already added Pachinko and Convenience Store Woman to my TBR list!

    I had a few recommendations for Sachi that I loved and hope she might too:

    The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston (Full Disclosure: This was required reading for me in high school and I absolutely hated it at the time. That said, many of my classmates have picked it up again as adults and LOVED it. It’s a very intense book, which may explain why we grew to love it as we got older, but well worth the challenge.)

    The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan (This is probably one of the most famous books depicting the unique Asian American experience, but it’s a classic for a reason!)

    No-No Boy by John Okada (I was assigned this book in my Japanese Literature class in college. It highlights the particular struggle of Japanese Americans after WWII. Although it can be intense at times and deals closely with Japanese internment in America, I found it to be very moving and stayed with me long after I’d read it.)

    A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara (Although this book is not about the Asian American experience, the author is Asian American! Her writing is beautiful and this book was completely captivating and heart-breaking.)

    Thank you for sharing your recommendations with us Anne and Sachi!

    • Sachi says:

      Thank you so much for your positive feedback and recommendations, Nicole! I always love to hear suggestions by fellow Asian Americans! I’ve read the Joy Luck Club (you’re right, a classic!), but I haven’t read any of your other recommendations! I’m most intrigued by The Woman Warrior, it sounds right up my alley. Someone else recommended A Little Life in the comments above, so I’ll definitely have to get that one, too!

  15. Sarah says:

    Hi Sachi,
    You’ve probably already read it, but I couldn’t help think of The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane for you!

    • Sachi says:

      I have a copy of that book, but I haven’t read it yet! You’re the second person to recommend Lisa See, so I better read it soon!! Thank you!!

      • Janean says:

        My Mom had a friend named Sachi when I was little and I had a friend named Keiko! I also strongly recommend Lisa See. I replied to the Lisa See comment above with more details. 😉 I loved hearing you’re enthusiasm for reading and discovering your book niche. So fun!

        • Sachi says:

          That’s so cool that you’ve known two people with our names! They’re both very traditional and common names in Japan, but I’ve yet to meet a Sachi or Keiko in person yet. Someday!

          Glad you enjoyed the episode! Thanks for the Lisa See recommendation above!

  16. Ashley says:

    If you haven’t read any Jamie Ford, you might check him out. He’s a Chinese-American author and he writes about the Asian-American experience. My favorite of his is Hotel on the Corner or Bitter and Sweet.

    • Sachi says:

      Yes!! I’ve heard of Jamie Ford! (Fun fact: My sister works at the Asian Cultural Center at Indiana University, and she had an opportunity to meet him!) I read The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet a couple years ago, and really enjoyed it! Thanks for the suggestion!

  17. Kristie says:

    I love every episode, but this one hit a few spots.

    One, Agatha Christie. It has been quite a few years now, but I just adore the Miss Marple novels. I don’t remember any of the plots to recommend any particular one, but I’m pretty sure Nemesis was the first one I purchased. 🙂 My mom actually has a collection, but I wanted a paperback of my very own, back when I was maybe 12 or 13.

    Two, I have been fascinated with Japan for a long time, probably going back to having a pen pal when I was in high school from the Kyoto area, if I recall correctly (this was around 30 years ago – yikes). Recently I have fallen into a rabbit hole related to Japanese items such as a particular planner/journal (Hobonichi), pens (you can build you own multi pen? – this is practically life-changing stuff), and pencils/erasers. Hearing Sachi talk about Japan made me more determined to make my dream of visiting a reality. I have no idea how, and I have no idea who I could make the trip with (not sure I’m up for solo), but let’s face it, I’m not getting any younger!

    Three, I was actually driving to my library on my way home from work while listening to the recommendations part of the episode, and was very intrigued by the description of A Tale for the Time Being. The title and author were familiar to me, but I’m not sure I had ever read or heard a description. My library had a copy, and I came home and sat down to start reading. I had to remind myself to put the book down to fix something for dinner and then get online to watch my middle nephew’s high school graduation! (His mother streamed it for those of us who couldn’t be in Alaska – I’m in Minnesota.) I’ve had a hard time getting into any of the books I’ve tried to read lately (except for some fun kids books), and it feels great to get sucked into a story again!

    • Sachi says:

      Happy to hear you enjoyed the episode, Kristie! I definitely need to try the Miss Marple series, since everyone keeps raving about it!
      And I’m so glad to hear that you’re diving into Japanese culture! While I don’t have a Hobonichi planner (I’m more of a electronic planner kind of gal), I’m obsessed with Japanese pens and notebooks! The multi-pens are incredible, and I absolutely LOVE the erasable pens I bought when I went to Japan last summer. They’re not like the erasable pens from the US that smudge and stain, you can erase/re-write and see everything clearly! I think I bought ten of them to take back to work with me, haha! I’m also a big note taker, and I love this set of compact notebooks I bought from the same store as the pens. They have light lines, perforated edges, and soft rings (instead of the metal ones we usually have here), and I’m already regretting that I should have brought more home with me!
      Like I said on the podcast, if you have any interest in going to Japan – you should definitely consider going! Even if you go alone, there are so many beautiful gardens and temples that are so peaceful they might be best savored on your own. Japan has something to offer for everyone though, so maybe you won’t have a hard time finding someone to join you on your trip!
      I’m so glad A Tale for the Time Being is getting you out of your reading slump! Everyone has had so many positive comments about it, that I can’t wait to read it soon!! 🙂

    • Janean says:

      I’m fascinated by Japanese pens, pencils and journals too! just last night, I was researching the Hobonichi journals because I saw them on a amy Tangerine’s feed and I’ve heard of them before. I love the Pilot Frixion retractable sand gets refills from a Japanese supplier. My 12 year old son is also fascinated with Japanese culture and wants to live in Japan someday! I’m in Minnesota too 😉

      • Sachi says:

        Pilot Frixion is the same brand of the erasable pens I recommended! All their products are great!!
        And that’s awesome to hear that your son loves Japanese culture! My husband was the same way growing up, and he joined a Japanese family when he married me 🙂

  18. Kristin Clark says:

    Once again, my Tuesday morning commute went by so quickly! I would suggest Gail Tsukiyama. My favorite of hers, which is in my top five, is Samurai’s Garden. I also have enjoyed her other novels and think you would too. As for All the Light We Cannot See, I, too, did not enjoy it as much while I read it because I don’t like to read about suffering children, but I appreciated it for its excellent writing and looked back on the book as a whole with more pleasure than I did my reading experience (if that makes sense). I also wanted to suggest as a place to get book recommendations. They are suggestions made by independent booksellers across the country, and I often look at it for ideas to add to my tbr list.

    • Sachi says:

      Someone else (on Instagram, I think) also recommended The Samurai’s Garden to me today! The premise sounds wonderful, so I’ll have to pick that one up!! And thanks for the Indie Book suggestion! I peruse their site every so often, but I need to visit more frequently for suggestions. Thank you!!

  19. Natalie Bondehagen says:

    While I have no Asian heritage in my family, I am fascinated by the culture and love books about Asia. In this episode I loved hearing the concept of the book about the Japanese journal and how it changed over time (maybe a hint of Life After Life, a favorite of mine). I didn’t recall the title as I turned off the podcast and got out of my car to go into the library. I always peruse the staff picks and the very first book I opened described the Japanese journal washed up on a beach! If that’s not destiny in book form, I don’t know what is! I am 30 pages into A Tale for the Time Being and I’m already enthralled. Thanks for the recommendation!!

  20. Paula says:

    How could you talk about Asian authors and leave out Amy Tan and Lisa See?!? But still a great episode, as always!

    • Sachi says:

      Haha, good question! I have a couple Lisa See books, but haven’t read them yet – and while I love Amy Tan, I haven’t read her books recently. They may not have come up in our conversation, but you’re right – they’re wonderful!!

    • Janean says:

      I think Anne said she was focusing on finding Sachi new and upcoming books that she wasn’t yet aware of. Anne gets so many ARCs and did so much vetting for the summer reading guide (like 300 book I think she said?) that she has a major advantage in terms of what’s coming. Plus, Sachi said she’d read 45 or something like that in the genre. As it turns out, she was aware of Lisa See and Amy Tan is in the summer reading guide.

  21. Nicole says:

    Loved this episode, and added so many titles to my TBR. I have to recommend a book that I read in an American Literature course – Citizen 13660, by Miné Okubo. Miné and her brother, American citizens, were sent to an internment camp during World War II. Citizen 13660 is Okubo’s graphic diary of sorts–a collection of drawings and text that describe her experiences in the camps. This book was submitted as part of her senate testimony in 1981 and played a part in the federal government eventually agreeing to pay reparations. It’s a very quick read and on the surface seems light, yet her scathing critiques are there for those who choose to see them. Anyway – highly recommend this to everyone!

    • Sachi says:

      What a wonderful coincidence!! After my sister listened to the podcast today, she recommended this book to me!! Great minds think alike 🙂 She plans on reading this soon, so we’re hoping to pair read it together. Thank you so much for the recommendation, and I’m glad you enjoyed the episode!!

    • Sachi says:

      Glad to hear you loved the episode! I read The Joy Luck Club as required reading back in high school, and remember really liking it. I’ve been meaning to read it again as an adult, and see if I enjoy it even more the second time around!

  22. Andrea Methvin says:

    I hesitate to try and add to your already immense TBR…but here goes anyway…
    Memoirs of a Geisha, Mambo in Chinatown, and How to be an American Housewife. I really liked all of these stories. Apparently they were good, because I remembered these titles off the top of my head! Happy reading!

    • Sachi says:

      I’m totally open to piling on more books to my TBR! I have Memoirs of a Geisha (still need to read it), but I haven’t heard of the other two titles you recommended! I’ve added them to my Wish List – they both sound great!! Thank you for the suggestions 🙂

  23. Linda says:

    Hi Anne and Sachi –
    Thank you for the great episode! Sachi – I immediately thought of Homegoing when I heard you describe the types of books you like – it’s a great multi-generational story by a woman of color (I see someone else recommended it as well). On a different note, after looking at your lovely bookshelves I think you might like Alyssa Mastromonaco’s Who Thought This Was a Good Idea. She was Obama’s Deputy Chief of Staff and in the book she shares a lot of fascinating and often humorous stories about what it was like to work in the White House.

    Like you, I’m also trying to read more books by women of color, especially Asian women. I’m half Japanese and was adopted by Caucasian parents. I have always been drawn to Japanese culture despite having virtually no exposure to it as a child, and in my adult years am seeking ways to become more connected with it.

    Hope you enjoy Anne’s recommended books, which I look forward to reading as well! (And The Book Thief is the best!)

    • Sachi says:

      Hi, Linda! I’m glad you liked the episode! I definitely need to read Homegoing soon. It’s been on my short list for a while now! I also have the audiobook of Who Thought This Was a Good Idea on hold at the library – I hope I get it soon!
      Even as someone with one Japanese parent I sometimes find it hard to connect to Japanese culture (the language barrier being the biggest factor, since I’m unfortunately not fluent in Japanese). Watching/reading Japanese anime/manga, finding Japanese recipes online, and watching Japanese documentaries are some of the ways I try to connect with the culture at home. And if you haven’t been to Japan already, I would highly recommend that as well, if you want to dive right in!

  24. Katie says:

    If you are into YA lit at all, Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series features an Asian-American protagonist, and it’s just all around adorable, fun reading.

  25. Georgia says:

    Why a great episode! Have you tried The Housekeeper and the Professor? It’s probably the only book (so far) that I’ve read set in Japan. It was a short, lovely book.

    • Sachi says:

      Someone else recommended that book above! It’s on my Wish List, and the premise sounds great! Thank you for the recommendation 🙂

  26. Amanda says:

    Sachi, have you read anything by Lisa See? I believe she’s Chinese American and I LOVE her books. Snowflower and the Secret Fan and Peony in Love are my absolute favorite.

    • Sachi says:

      I have a couple books by Lisa See, but haven’t read them yet!! Everyone keeps recommending her, so I really need to get on that, haha! I have Snow Flower and the Secret Fan already, so I’ll have to try that first. Thank you!!

  27. Becki says:

    For Sachi, I was thinking of a couple of books.

    First, The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui. It’s a graphic novel, a memoir, and the author emigrated from Vietnam as a child with her parents and siblings. So it’s about family, and about how experiences shape the people we become. I’ve read just a couple graphic novels, and I was surprised how well the drawings can take the place of words to make the story.

    An author I love is Tan Twan Eng. He is Malaysian, and his two novels are set in Malaysia, mostly during WWII when Japan invaded. My favorite of the two is The Garden of Evening Mists, and the central character is a Japanese man who creates a Japanese garden among the Malaysian tea plantations and has a mysterious life. There is a wonderful sense of place and interesting characters. So not about an immigrant experience, or written by an Asian American woman…..but something from a part of Asia we don’t hear much about!

    • Sachi says:

      I absolutely LOVED The Best We Could Do!! I really should have talked about that book on the podcast, as well. So beautifully illustrated, and I love how the lightness/darkness of the colors conveyed certain emotions (super dark or intense moments had much heavier shading, for example). I’ll have to check out Tan Twan Eng, as well! The book you mentioned sounds very interesting 🙂 Thank you!

  28. Loved this episode! It was a refreshing point of view.
    I have a few recommendations.
    1. The Girl Who Wrote in Silk. It’s told from two different time periods – modern day and a century before, when a Chinese girl is driven from her home. I LOVED the main characters, the diverse perspectives AND it has quite a bit of mystery weaved in.
    2. Snow Falling on Cedars. One of my all-time favorite books. It’s VERY atmospheric, takes place during World War II and explores a lesser-known part of Japanese/American history. It’s also a little suspenseful!
    3. The Best We Could Do. Oh man, this book turned me on to graphic memoirs in a MAJOR way. You learn so much and become so invested in this family. It really helped me appreciate what immigrants go through to assimilate into their new environment.

    • Sachi says:

      Like I said above, I absolutely loved The Best We Could Do!! It’s an intense read, but it helped me understand the perspectives of refugees of the Vietnam War. I agree that it got me hooked on graphic novels and memoirs. I have the Persepolis series at home, and need to read that soon. Someone also recommended The Girl Who Wrote in Silk above, so I have that on my Wish List, and I’ll check out Snow Falling on Cedars as well. Thank you!!

    • Ellen W says:

      It has been years since I read Snow Falling on Cedars but I remember both the book and movie made me cry. But I am still glad I read the book.

  29. Jaclyn Mann says:

    This might already have been said, but Jaime Ford and his book “The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet”. Ford is a male writer, but of Asian heritage. In this book, he features a Chinese boy and a Japanese girl at the brink of World War II in the Seattle area. I profoundly love this story. Also, cliche as it might be, Amy Tan is one of my favorite Asian American writers. The “Joy Luck Club” resonates on so many levels, and you mentioned living in the Bay Area for a time, so you’d appreciate that too.

    • Sachi says:

      I loved both The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and the Joy Luck Club! I read the Joy Luck Club ages ago, and didn’t realize it was set in the Bay Area. I’ll have to re-read it now that I’ve lived there!

  30. Janean says:

    Another one that came to mind for you was The Ensemble. When you mentioned you mother’s opera career and your connection and affinity for all things music, The Ensemble seemed like the perfect fit. Anne describes it better than I can on the summer reading guide. Take a look there. I’m about halfway through it and it will certainly make my best of the year list!

    • Sachi says:

      I just finished The Ensemble last week!! I absolutely loved it! It was great because I love classical music, and I enjoy stories told by multiple POV’s (especially within a tight knit group like the quartet). Great recommendation!

  31. Donna H. says:

    Excellent episode! I’m definitely moving Pachinko up my TBR list. I love reading Agatha Christie as a ‘palette cleanser’ when I get into a reading slump because they’re such page-turners. I just finished The ABC Murders which I really enjoyed. For a recommendation I’d suggest The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle from Haruki Murakami, it’s a fantastical type of book but covers some solid subjects like marriage, politics and even Japan’s role in WWII.

    • Sachi says:

      Hi Donna, thank you for your kind words on the episode! I’m so happy to hear you’re moving Pachinko up in your TBR! I’ve been preaching that book’s praises to anyone who will listen, haha! I have the ABC murders in my possession, I just need to read it!
      Also, I’ve heard of the The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle! I’ll add it to my Wish List. I just listened to Haruki Murakami’s memoir on audio, and would love to dive into one of his books! Thank you for the suggestion 🙂

  32. Sarah says:

    Loved this episode! Sachi, if you need some lighter summer reading, you should try Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before trilogy. It sounds cheesy, but I promise that it’s not. It’s a YA series about a girl who’s half white, half Korean. There’s a love story involved, but you also see the protagonist and her sisters dealing with issues of grief, culture, identity, and relationships. (Their Korean mother has passed away, so there’s the constant undercurrent of these girls trying to navigate their lives with their white dad while trying to hold onto their Korean heritage.) Like I said, at the heart of it it’s a YA romance, but this trilogy has enough depth and substance to be a worthwhile (and fun!!) read.

    And I LOVE Celeste Ng, too! Can’t wait for her next book!!

  33. Sylvie Okros says:

    I am not sure if anyone else has suggested it but a coworker recently gifted me “The Buddha in the Attic” by Julie Otsuka and I absolutely loved it. It is short and beautifully written. It centers on Japanese brides immigrating to America in the early 1900s. I highly recommend it.

    • Sachi says:

      Ooooh! I haven’t heard of this one! Adding it to my Wish List now 🙂 Thank you for the recommendation!!

  34. Sue S says:

    Sachi & Anne,
    Great idea to focus on women & POC writers in this episode. Thanks for sharing all your recommendations.
    Sachi, you described perfectly what I didn’t like about All the Light…
    I was happy to hear you mention a poetry book, which doesn’t usually get cited by guest readers. Have you read Brenda Shaughnessy? I love her work which you can find on the New Yorker site & poetry foundation, too. She is an Asian American poet who was born in Japan. I suggest starting with the collection “Our Andromeda”.

    • Sachi says:

      Hi Sue! I’m glad you enjoyed our conversation, and that you agree with my thoughts on the All the Light 🙂
      Like I said on the podcast, I’ve been trying to expand my reading, and that includes poetry!! I’ve only read Rupi Kaur and Julayne Lee so far, so I’ll add Our Andromeda to my Wish List. Thank you!!

  35. Ginny Agnew says:

    Sachi, your description of the joys of Japan have me packing my bag. If you are not familiar with the author Banana Yoshimoto, especially Kitchen the first of her books translated into English back in the early 90’s, I urge you to look her up immediately. Her sensibility towards Japanese culture seemed to match your description.
    Earlier this year I read Shion Miura’s lovely novel The Great Passage about the adventure of writing a Japanese dictionary. If you want a gentle love story wrapped in the joy of language’s mysteries, it is your book.

    Some Prefer Nettles by Junichiro Tanizaki is a famous novel from the 1920’s that paints an indelible picture of Japan and its customs and rituals.

    Finally, at the exact opposite of the spectrum from that is Jamie Ford’s At The Corner of Bitter and Sweet which Anne has recommended here in the past.

    I very much agreed with your All the Light We Cannot See description. I found it just too painful, but Doerr is a wonderful writer. I adored (no pun intended) About Grace.

    Thank you Anne for a wonderful podcast.

  36. Sachi says:

    If you’re interested in Japan at all, you should definitely go!! It’s such a beautiful and magnificent country! I’ve read Hotel on the Corner, and I have Kitchen on my Wish List!! I haven’t heard of your other titles, so I’ll definitely check those out!! Thank you 🙂

    • Ginny Agnew says:

      My best friend was pressing me to visit Japan just last week as she suspects it is the perfect match for me (I lived in Honolulu years ago and worked in a Japanese bakery had a Japanese language newspaper route etc.) I loved the Japanese influences in Hawai’i.
      Kenzaburō Ōe also an amazing writer. A Personal Matter, very dark semi-autobiographical probably my favorite.

      • Sachi says:

        Ooooh!! The bakeries in Japan are MARVELOUS. Seriously, one of my favorite parts about going to Japan is finding adorable bakeries with knockout pastries! Last time I went, we found this wonderful shop that had the most delicious Swiss cake roll topped with mixed berries! To die for!! If you worked at a Japanese bakery I’m sure you’ll be able to appreciate the serious craft that goes into every item.
        I’ll also check out the author you recommended – so many great book suggestions on here!!

  37. Chris says:

    I would recommend the three novels by Jamie Ford:
    (especially the first and third books)

    Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet
    Songs of Willow Frost
    Love and Other Consolation Prizes

    Jamie Ford is half Chinese and half White. His stories take place in Seattle. His stories have a Chinese character and often have a Japanese character. Also the stories often take place a long, long time ago, and then in the present, like when the character is a child, and then later on when the character is like 60 years old.

    Short stories:

    The Refugees by Viet Tranh Nguyen – already suggested, Vietnamese

    Emperor of All Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri – Indian (Bengalese) American – 2000 Pulitzer Prize winner

    In the Country by Mia Alvar – Filipino

    Some other novels:

    The Leavers by Lisa Ko

    The Girl Who Wrote Loneliness by Kyung Sook Shin – translated book from a famous Korean author – growing up (from high school on in 1970’s South Korea).

    The Woman Who Breathed Two Worlds by Selena Siak Chin Yoke – The story of a woman of mixed Malay Chinese background growing up in Malaysia from the late 1800’s from childhood to adulthood. Interesting exploration of differences between Malaysian / Chinese / western cultures and challenges of being a woman during that time.

    There is a second book in the series called When the Future Comes Too Soon, but I have not read that book yet.

    • Sachi says:

      I’ve read the Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, but I should definitely try some of Ford’s other novels. I have copies of The Refugees, Emperor of All Maladies, and The Leavers but still need to read them! I’ll check out your other titles too. I’ve never heard of them! Thanks so much for the suggestions!

  38. Natalie Ellis says:

    I have been a devoted listener of the podcast since the first episode and this was definitely my favorite. I am also Japanese American and actually just returned from my first trip to Japan on Sunday night. This couldn’t have come at a better time. Growing up I never read any books about Asian or Asian American characters so finding these books now as a adult has been such a joy. I can’t wait to dig in to some of these books.
    I would definitely recommend the Rei Shimura mystery series by Sujata Massey (author of Widows of Malabar Hills). They came out around the 2000’s and I think there are about 10+ in the series. Rei is a Japanese American woman living in Tokyo and each book taught me so much about Japan and what it is like to live there as a Japanese American. And if you are looking for great kids chapter books the new series about Jasmine Toguchi has great books about what it is like to grow up in the US as a Japanese American kid. The series is so fun and has been a great way to introduce my daughters to fun Japanese holiday traditions.

    Having just returned from Tokyo and in my jet-lagged haze it was so great to hear someone talk about what there aren’t any trash cans around and about the wonders of the amazing 7 elevens! I even have a younger sister too. There were so many great similarities and I actually had to pause the show and call my mom right away to tell her what a coincidence it was that this episode was airing right now. Thank you again for such a great episode!

    • Sachi says:

      Hi Natalie! So wonderful to hear from another Japanese American listener (and one that literally just got back from Japan!!) I hope you enjoyed your first trip, and are already itching to go back. I would love to hear what your favorite experiences in Japan were!
      Also, jet-lag from Japan is the worst, so hopefully the podcast episode helped with that a little bit! It’s wonderful to hear that we have so much in common, and that you had to call your mom right away 🙂
      I will definitely checkout the Rei Shimura series and the Jasmine Toguchi books! Both sound extremely fun and engaging! Thanks for the recommendations!

  39. Jasmin says:

    Hi Sachi! Like all of the commenters above, I really enjoyed this episode. I’m also Asian American and have been looking for more diverse reads. Have you read Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan? It was one of my favorites years ago.

    • Sachi says:

      Great to hear from another Asian American listener! I’m so glad you enjoyed the episode! I haven’t heard of The Hundred Secret Senses, but it sounds wonderful! I have a couple other Amy Tan books to read (The Kitchen God’s Wife and her memoir Where the Past Begins) so I’ll have to add this one to the list. Thank you!!

  40. Ella says:

    Great episode! I liked Forgiveness by Mark Sakomoto. It’s by a Canadian author and is part memoir part family history. His maternal grandfather was a POW in Japan in WWII and his paternal grandparents were interned in Canada during WWII. Sounds like it hits a couple of your areas of interest!

    • Sachi says:

      Hi Ella! I’m glad you liked the episode 🙂 Forgiveness sounds very interesting – adding it to my Wish List now!

  41. Robin Troxell says:

    Although they are middle grade books, the Rick Riordan imprint is coming out with books by authors of color and females that might also appeal to kids who loved his magical realisim Percy Jackson books that incorporate mythology. I really enjoyed and Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi and The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta. Loved your ep!

  42. Charmaine says:

    Love this episode and wanted to recommend a couple of books I’ve read recently (and really enjoyed) set in Tokoyo which are crime novels! ‘The Devotion of Suspect X’ and ‘Salvation of a Saint’ by Keigo Higashino.

  43. Chris says:

    Hi Sachi,

    I don’t know if my second post went through. In my first post I mistakenly listed “Emperor of all Maladies”. I meant “Interpreter of Maladies”.

    Here are some more suggestions:
    1. Farewell to Manzanar (1973) by Jeanne Watasuki Houston. Book about young girl and family and their experiences in an internment camp for Japanese Americans during World War II. Also made into a movie (1976). I have not read the book.
    2. Do Not Say We Have Nothing (2016) by Madeleine Thien. Shortlisted for the Man Booker Award. Historical fiction covering the Japanese Invasion, the Great March, Cultural Revolution and Tian An Men Square protests. A sweeping multi generational saga with music playing a large part of the story: a piano player, a violin player, and a composer are three of the characters, plus one of the locations is at a conservatory. Story mainly takes place in various places in China, but also in Vancouver. Author is Malaysian Chinese Canadian.
    3. Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing the Blues, and Becoming a Star in Beijing (2011) by Alan Paul. Memoir of moving family from New Jersey to Beijing when his wife accepts a work assignment in Beijing. Alan is a music journalist but ends up forming a band. Story is also about adjusting to life as an expat in China and getting to know Chinese language and culture. Plus the family did some traveling around China. Fun story.
    4. My Korean Deli: Risking it All for a Convenience Store by Ben Ryder Howe.
    Wife buys a convenience store for Korean immigration parents. True story.

    • Sachi says:

      Hi Chris! I figured you meant Interpreter of Maladies, but I wrote Emperor on accident too! These other recommendations sound great as well. I’m most intrigued by Do Not Say We Have Nothing. Thank you so much for the extra recommendations!!

  44. Pam says:

    Loved this episode (but then I love them all)! Sachi, the first book that came to mind that fits your wish list is Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It’s been a few years since it came out, and it was everywhere at the time, so it’s likely you already know it, but I want to add it to the list if not!

    • Sachi says:

      Hi Pam! So glad you loved the episode! I read Hotel on the Corner many moons ago. Since it’s recieved so much praise and has been recommended so much, I’m seriously considering a re-read (even though a RARELY re-read books). I think I’ll enjoy it even more now!

  45. Loni says:

    Hi Sachi! It seems like you are open to middle grade books, so there are two I wanted to recommend:
    Kira Kira by Cynthia Kadohata – it is a story about a Japanese-American family with 2 sisters, living in America in the 1950s. It was very touching, the audio was great!
    A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park – it is historical fiction set in 12th century Korea. My daughter’s and I listened to this one on audio too, it was very interesting and I think it won a Newberry and was honorable mention for an Asian/Pacific American Award.
    I really enjoyed your episode! Happy Reading!

    • Sachi says:

      These both sounds great!! Thank you for the recommendation 🙂 Would love to try some middle grade books involving Asian characters!

  46. Claire says:

    I’m not ethnically Asian but I grew up in Asia, so I am loving all of these book recommendations! And I loved this episode too. I’ve never visited Japan, but I have friends and family members who have and loved it. It’s on my bucket list!

    As far as Agatha Christie goes—I love her not just for her mystery, but also for her commentary on changing British society and the wryly funny turns of phrase she surprises you with sometimes. Just a warning: you may run across troubling aspects in some of her books, such as caricatures of other nationalities.

    I’ve read nearly all of her books, and I’ve seen several of my favorites mentioned already. I’ll just second those and add a few more. 🙂

    The Body in the Library
    4.50 from Paddington
    The A.B.C. Murders
    Destination Unknown
    N or M
    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
    Crooked House
    Death on the Nile
    After the Funeral
    A Murder Is Announced

    If you have a chance to listen to any of the audiobooks narrated by Hugh Fraser, I’d highly recommend that. He’s perfection. Emilia Fox narrates several as well, but she’s hit or miss for me—sometimes she overdoes different voices and ends up being irritating.

    • Sachi says:

      Oh wow! Good to know!! Thank you so much for a comprehensive Agatha Christie list 🙂 Can’t wait to dive in!

  47. Charity says:

    What a great episode! One summer I lived with a family that’d lived in Taiwan for 25 years; during our conversations, I realized how ignorant I was about all things Asian and set out to gain more understanding through books. One interesting memoir that I read was Life and Death in Shanghai, which is the memoir of a woman who was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution in China. Another fascinating book was The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. The author is white American, and the book documents a medical case of a Hmong child with epilepsy and shows the dissonance between how Hmong people and how Californian doctors have different approaches to disease, treatment, communication, etc. (The title comes from the Hmong way of expressing “epilepsy.”) One of my all-time favourite books is Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, which is told from the perspectives of four daughters (born in the USA) and their Chinese mothers. The book shows the cultural disparity that rises up between the mothers and daughters as the daughters don’t understand their mothers’ experience and vice versa (probably my no. 1 recommendation to you). Though it’s not Eastern Asian, Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake does an excellent job of showing a similar family story–this time an Indian couple that’s moved to the US and is raising their two children. Snow Falling on Cedars is written by a white American male, but it may be of interest as he follows the lives of people living on an (imaginary) island off the Pacific Northwest and how their lives/relationships are changed by WWII. There are lots of Japanese residents on the island, and the book also covers some time in internment camps. One of my favourite WWII books is the memoir The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch woman whose family aided Jews during the war and later was sent to a prison camp (the spirit of her book is different than a lot of WWII books I’ve read). And finally, I must say that if you love Agatha Christie, also take a look at the books she wrote under her pen name Mary Westmacott. I love Absent in the Spring, which explores the inner struggle of a woman who is stranded for a time and suddenly has time to reflect on her life and discover some conflicts in hr family that she had been blind to before. I hope at least one of the titles in my ramblings will be of interest!

    • Sachi says:

      Oh wow!! Thank you for all your recommendations! Your #1 suggestion (The Joy Luck Club) is something I’ve read, but am seriously considering re-reading after all the praise it’s recieved here. Also, I never realized Agatha Christie had another pen name!! I’ll have to check those out too. Thank you!!!

  48. Leslie says:

    I loved A Tale For The Time Being as well. I would recommend The Masada Affair- and the whole Akitada series- by IJ Parker. The mysteries/stories are set in 11th century Japan and are great. Also, have you read a Girl in Tramslation? It depicts the plight of many poor Asian immigrants in New York.

      • Sachi says:

        I just bought Girl in Translation based on a recommendation from another WSIRN listener! I’ll have to checkout the mystery series too – I haven’t heard of those!! Thanks!!

  49. Lindsay says:

    Sachi, I enjoyed this episode so much!!! Enough to seek out the post to comment, which I never do! I skimmed through the recommendations and there were so many great suggestions. I didn’t notice was Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok or Tallgrass by Sandra Dallas and think you might like both.

    Happy reading, and good luck with your Masters!

    • Sachi says:

      Hi Lindsay! So glad you loved the episode! Girl in Translation was recommended, so I bought it the other day 🙂 The premise sounds great, and I loved the cover! I haven’t heard of Tallgrass, so I’ll have to check that out. Thanks again!!

  50. Jen W. says:

    Really enjoyed this episode. I loved The Book Thief – beautiful and heartbreaking. Two thumbs up for Anne’s suggestions – Ursula, Under and A Tale for the Time Being. I also really enjoyed Ozeki’s My Year of Meats. Reading Pachinko now based on Sachi’s recommendation!

    • Sachi says:

      Hi Jen! I’m happy to hear you enjoyed the episode! I’m so excited to read Anne’s picks, and I’m glad you vouch for them as well. Also, I’m delighted to hear that you’re reading Pachinko!! It’s an incredible read, and I enjoyed it immensely!

  51. Deborah says:

    And here’s yet another full throated endorsement for A Tale for the Time Being, which I was hoping Anne would recommend the whole way through your episode. I had heard that the audio book was exceptional, so I listened to it and reserved it at my library just before I finished listening because there are passages I need to linger over and revisit the way I only can with a print version.

  52. Jenny Colvin says:

    I enjoyed this episode, and just so happened to be in the middle of a book it seemed like Sachi might like – Go Home edited by Rowan Hisayo Buchanan from Feminist Press, which came out earlier this year (
    “Asian diasporic writers imagine “home” in the twenty-first century through an array of fiction, memoir, and poetry. Both urgent and meditative, this anthology moves beyond the model-minority myth and showcases the singular intimacies of individuals figuring out what it means to belong.”

  53. Ilana says:

    Dear Sachi, dear Anne,
    I loved listening to your episode and there were a couple of books that immediately sprang to my mind when I listened to your favourites, which I wanted to share. I love that you read or are willing to try out very different genres, so this is quite a mixture. Also, some of those I haven’t read yet but heard very good things about them.

    – “Salt to the Sea” by Ruta Sepetys
    -> WWII setting, exploration of a tragic event that history seems to have forgotten about, told through 3 or 4 different perspectives. (I haven’t read this one yet, but it was a strong recommendations by someone I trust and it’s already on my TBR).

    – Amy Tan’s books, dealing with Asian heritage when you grow up in different countries/cultures
    -> I have read “The Joy Luck Club” when I was in school and loved the four different story lines/the different problems.

    – “To all the boys I’ve loved before” (series) by Jenny Han
    -> yound-adult love story. This is very popular right now and the main character has Asian roots. If have not read it yet, as I’m not that much into romance, but I’m planning to try it.

    And my final and to me the most important recommendation for you, because I love the author so much:
    – anything by Marie Lu. She writes mostly YA dystopian, and I love her style and how her Asian background shines through in some of her characters – in what they’re eating, what they find attractive in the other (what’s up with blond-haired Asian dudes?? 😀 ) and so on. I hope for her new book, “War Cross”, to be a better version of “Ready Player One” (the story line is similar), and I also loved loved loved her “Legend” series – all the feelings!! It’s also worth your time to follow her on instagram.

    I hope you find something great to read from these recommendations as well. Happy reading! Ilana

    • Ilana says:

      Oh, and “Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell was bittersweet and Park’s parents met during Vietnam war (or something like that, I can’t quite remember).

      • Sachi says:

        Thank you so much for all the recommendations! I loved the Joy Luck Club, and I am very interested in getting into Marie Lu’s books. I have the first Legend book, as well as Warcross – I just need to read them! I also bought All the Boys I’ve Loved Before recently, and am hoping to read that as a fun summer book 🙂 I’ve also been eyeing Eleanor and Park, and your recommendation might push me to get it! Thank you!!

  54. Diane says:

    Hi Anne and Sachi,
    So enjoyed the podcast.
    I would like recommend THE CROOKED HOUSE -AGATHA CHRISTIE.
    I started to watch the movie…yuck. The book is great!

    • Sachi says:

      Hi Diane! So happy to hear that you enjoyed the podcast! I just bought Crooked House, and hope to read it soon 🙂 Thank you!!

  55. Julia says:

    I wanted to add a couple of recommendations. Hopefully they haven’t already been suggested! Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson is set in the 1950s and is about a local fisherman who dies suspiciously and a Japanese American is charged with his murder. It’s also about a love story between a white boy and a Japanese girl and talks about the internment of the Japanese in WWII. I read it quite a while ago but I remember loving it. I also think you might like The Boat People by Sharon Bala. The author is a woman of colour and it is about a boat of refugees who come to Canada and how they are treated by the Canadian government. There is also a side story about the Japanese mediator who must decide their fate. I really enjoyed it.

    • Sachi says:

      Both are on my Wish List! I really want to read The Boat People this year! Looks very compelling 🙂 Thank you for the suggestions!

  56. Gunnar Isaacson says:

    When I was in my early twenties I followed in my parents footsteps and started reading the Agatha Christie mysteries, eventually reading all of them (100+). What I found in those pre-Google days was there were Poirot stories, Miss Marple stories, and “neither” stories (like “And Then There Were None.”) The largest group were Poirot stories. To me, there has never been a more unexpected, intelligent and endearing detective then Miss Marple, and all her books are cherished, but if you need a recommendation, read Nemesis. Have fun!

      • Gunnar Isaacson says:

        You’re welcome! Nemesis not only has the murder mystery, but also has many layers of “other mysteries” swirling about… when it is over I just felt “how brilliant was this woman!?” (to write something this entertaining.) Enjoy.

  57. Rebekah in Redlands says:

    If you are looking for more Agatha Christie, try “The Crooked House” and then watch the excellent 2017 adaptation.

  58. I just finished reading Bury What We Cannot Take by Kirstin Chen (her sophomore novel) and it was excellent. She is a Singaporean author, the book takes place in 1950s China and Hong Kong, so I think this is right up your alley, Sachi. Also, her debut novel Soy Sauce for Beginners takes place in Singapore and is very good as well. Loved this episode. Loved Little Fires Everywhere as well!

      • Sachi says:

        Just returned to this thread after commenting on the most recent episode’s page. Just wanted to say I LOVED Bury What We Cannot Take! Thank you for the suggestion, Michelle – you are spot on!! I’m listening to Soy Sauce for Beginners right now, and I’m really enjoying that as well. The two are very different, but I love that it shows Chen’s wide range of writing.

  59. Rebecca Missel says:

    Talking about Japanese American authors and your love of mysteries made me think of Naomi Hirahara and her book, Gasa-Gasa Girl. Great mix of light and serious, grounded in the female protagonists Japanese father who survived Hiroshima.

  60. Erica says:

    A tale for the time being is one of my all time favorite books. Listening to you describe it gave me chills and now I need to read it again!

  61. Wendy says:

    I love that so many people are recommending The Leavers by Lisa Ko. Another Asian American book that I really enjoyed was The Wangs Vs. The World by Jade Chang

  62. Alison Kertis says:

    Anne, thank you so, so much for recommending a Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. I do not know if you have actually read it (I checked your Goodreads and it is not listed), but if you haven’t you need to put down whatever you have right now and start a Tale for the Time Being. I just started it a few days ago and am almost done – this one is for sure unputdownable. It is an absolute delight and so intriguing. Thank you for bringing this book to your show – I never would have read it otherwise.

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