Recommended Reads: Books about Asia
Before travelling to a new place, I love reading books based in that country or about a specific culture. Reading helps me develop some prior knowledge about local traditions as well as an understanding of important historical facts - and don’t you get giddy when you see or experience something that is specifically referenced in a book you’ve read?! After spending five years living in Asia, I’ve gathered a few favourites. Although the content in some of these is certainly a bit heavy, they are all great reads you should add to your list.
If you’ve been to Bali, these books will really open your eyes to some of the stuff that happens in your fairytale vacation spot.
I adore Julie Otsuka; she tells beautiful stories of Japanese immigrants in North America.
Each one of these is a favourite for different reasons. ‘A Fine Balance’ and ‘Shantaram’ are long reads, but totally worth it. ‘Rebel Queen’ is an easier, historical fiction novel and ‘Sold’ tells the story of a child prostitute through poetry.
‘Shanghai Girls’ is what I would usually describe as ‘fluff’, but it is an enjoyable historical fiction novel. ‘The Joy Luck Club’ is a favourite of mine; it tells the stories of Chinese immigrants over several generations.
Both of these are memoirs about people who have escaped from North Korea. ‘Every Falling Star’ is suitable for young adults, but would be enjoyable for anyone, and ‘The Aquariums of Pyongyang’ is a bit more in-depth.
‘Running in the Family’ is a memoir that provides a window into everyday family life - ‘Island of a Thousand Mirrors’ focusses on the civil war.
Both of these memoirs are heartbreaking, but if you are travelling to Cambodia I highly recommend reading them.