100 books like 32 New Takes on Taiwan Cinema

By Emilie Yueh-Yu Yeh (editor), Darrell William Davis (editor), Wenchi Lin (editor)

Here are 100 books that 32 New Takes on Taiwan Cinema fans have personally recommended if you like 32 New Takes on Taiwan Cinema. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Island on the Edge: Taiwan New Cinema and After

Ming-Yeh Rawnsley Author Of Taiwan Cinema: International Reception and Social Change

From my list on understanding and enjoying Taiwan cinema.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Taiwan and have always been fascinated by cinema. I received my Ph.D. in 1998 in the UK in communications studies and shifted my research priority from media to Taiwan cinema in 2005 when I became Head of Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China. I had fun working on several projects, screening Taiwanese films, discussing Taiwan cinema and society with filmmakers and audiences, and publishing widely in Chinese and in English. I have travelled, lived, and worked in different cities and countries since 2005 and have continued to find it rewarding to study what I have been passionate about since childhood. 

Ming-Yeh's book list on understanding and enjoying Taiwan cinema

Ming-Yeh Rawnsley Why did Ming-Yeh love this book?

This is one of the first English books I read about Taiwan New Cinema (TNC), arguably the most significant film movement in Taiwan to date.

When the TNC occurred in the 1980s, I was a student and Taiwan was going through the early stage of regime transition and democratization. It was an exciting but also uncertain time. I found films of TNC compelling but often opaque in meaning.

Reading this book in the early 21st century suddenly unlocked a lot of mysteries about the TNC as a film movement and the brilliance of these works for me. It motivated me to start researching Taiwan cinema as a subject more seriously.       

By Chris Berry (editor), Feii Lu (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Island on the Edge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is the first English-language anthology on the Taiwan New Cinema and its legacy. It is an exciting collection which covers all the major filmmakers from Hou Hsiao Hsien and Edward Yang to Ang Lee and more. The volume gatehrs a range of essays that analyze individual films produced since the advent of the Taiwan New Cinema in the early 1980s.

Taiwan and its internationally renowned cinema are " on the edge" in more ways than one. For all of its history the island has been on the edge of larger geopolitical entities, subjected to invasions, migrations, incursions, and pressures.…


Book cover of Cinema Taiwan: Politics, Popularity and State of the Arts

Ming-Yeh Rawnsley Author Of Taiwan Cinema: International Reception and Social Change

From my list on understanding and enjoying Taiwan cinema.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Taiwan and have always been fascinated by cinema. I received my Ph.D. in 1998 in the UK in communications studies and shifted my research priority from media to Taiwan cinema in 2005 when I became Head of Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China. I had fun working on several projects, screening Taiwanese films, discussing Taiwan cinema and society with filmmakers and audiences, and publishing widely in Chinese and in English. I have travelled, lived, and worked in different cities and countries since 2005 and have continued to find it rewarding to study what I have been passionate about since childhood. 

Ming-Yeh's book list on understanding and enjoying Taiwan cinema

Ming-Yeh Rawnsley Why did Ming-Yeh love this book?

When I decided to study Taiwan cinema more systematically, I tried to read as much on the subject as possible. I enjoyed this book because it offered me a broad overview of many kinds of questions that can be asked about and through Taiwan cinema.

For example, I realized that it is possible to try and understand Taiwanese domestic & international politics, cross-strait relations, colonial history, and the impact of globalization in a more relatable manner by reading films and documentaries as texts. It is also possible to analyze different festivals, genres, filmmakers, and individual films from the perspectives of the film industry and film artistry.

I was totally energized by the enormous potential the subject of Taiwan cinema can offer because of this book.     

By Darrell William Davis (editor), Ru-shou Robert Chen (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cinema Taiwan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Following the recent success of Taiwanese film directors, such as Hou Hsiao-hsien, Edward Yang, Ang Lee and Tsai Ming-liang, Taiwanese film is raising its profile in contemporary cinema. This collection presents an exciting and ambitious foray into the cultural politics of contemporary Taiwan film that goes beyond the auterist mode, the nation-state argument and vestiges of the New Cinema.

Cinema Taiwan considers the complex problems of popularity, conflicts between transnational capital and local practice, non-fiction and independent filmmaking as emerging modes of address, and new possibilities of forging vibrant film cultures embedded in national (identity) politics, gender/sexuality and community activism.…


Book cover of Taiwan Cinema: A Contested Nation on Screen

Ming-Yeh Rawnsley Author Of Taiwan Cinema: International Reception and Social Change

From my list on understanding and enjoying Taiwan cinema.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Taiwan and have always been fascinated by cinema. I received my Ph.D. in 1998 in the UK in communications studies and shifted my research priority from media to Taiwan cinema in 2005 when I became Head of Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China. I had fun working on several projects, screening Taiwanese films, discussing Taiwan cinema and society with filmmakers and audiences, and publishing widely in Chinese and in English. I have travelled, lived, and worked in different cities and countries since 2005 and have continued to find it rewarding to study what I have been passionate about since childhood. 

Ming-Yeh's book list on understanding and enjoying Taiwan cinema

Ming-Yeh Rawnsley Why did Ming-Yeh love this book?

I recommend this book because it is one of the few single-authored monographs in English that covers Taiwan cinema exclusively and comprehensively.

The study of Taiwan cinema has proliferated and diversified a great deal in recent years. However, when Hong’s Taiwan Cinema was published in 2011, most books on this subject were edited volumes and tended to have a narrower focus at the time. I like the fact that the author has offered many first-hand research materials.

I learned not only about the history of Taiwan cinema from pre-1945 to the new millennium but also why and how Taiwan cinema has shown the island as a contested nation on screen throughout the many decades. 

By Guo-juin Hong,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Taiwan Cinema as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A groundbreaking study of Taiwan cinema, Hong provides helpful insight into how it is taught and studied by taking into account not only the auteurs of New Taiwan Cinema, but also the history of popular genre films before the 1980s. The book is essential for students and scholars of Taiwan, film and visual studies, and East Asian cultural history.


Book cover of Taiwan Cinema as Soft Power: Authorship, Transnationality, Historiography

Ming-Yeh Rawnsley Author Of Taiwan Cinema: International Reception and Social Change

From my list on understanding and enjoying Taiwan cinema.

Why am I passionate about this?

I grew up in Taiwan and have always been fascinated by cinema. I received my Ph.D. in 1998 in the UK in communications studies and shifted my research priority from media to Taiwan cinema in 2005 when I became Head of Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham Ningbo, China. I had fun working on several projects, screening Taiwanese films, discussing Taiwan cinema and society with filmmakers and audiences, and publishing widely in Chinese and in English. I have travelled, lived, and worked in different cities and countries since 2005 and have continued to find it rewarding to study what I have been passionate about since childhood. 

Ming-Yeh's book list on understanding and enjoying Taiwan cinema

Ming-Yeh Rawnsley Why did Ming-Yeh love this book?

I think the author is very clever by bringing in the trendy concept of soft power and thus opening a new window for our understanding of Taiwan cinema.

I found the book not the easiest to read if you are not particularly familiar with the language of cultural studies or with specific films and filmmakers in Taiwan. However, the author has presented a convincing and valuable argument by linking a cinematic output to the entire system, which enables the production, circulation, and distribution of this output.

In other words, Taiwan cinema is a result, but the system that enriches creativity is where Taiwan’s values and soft power lie.  

By Song Hwee Lim,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Taiwan Cinema as Soft Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.


Book cover of Bu San Bu Si: A Taiwan Punk Tale

John Grant Ross Author Of Taiwan in 100 Books

From my list on novels set in Taiwan.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Kiwi who has spent most of the past three decades in Asia. My books include Formosan Odyssey, You Don't Know China, and Taiwan in 100 Books. I live in a small town in southern Taiwan with my Taiwanese wife. When not writing, reading, or lusting over maps, I can be found on the abandoned family farm slashing jungle undergrowth (and having a sly drink).

John's book list on novels set in Taiwan

John Grant Ross Why did John love this book?

Readers looking for something different will enjoy this. There’s no history lesson here, no cultural tourism of night markets, martial arts, and temples, no Western protagonists finding their feet and getting a girl. Bu San Bu Si is a gritty journey into the underground music scene in Taipei. In electric prose, the novel follows the triumphs and more often the travails of Xiao Hei, the bass guitarist in a four-man band called Resistant Strain, “a bunch of nobodies in a scene full of more nobodies.” The talented young man’s work ethic doesn’t match his ambitions for street cred, fame, and fortune. When gangster connections offer a shortcut, things spin out of control.  

By J.W. Henley,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bu San Bu Si as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Bu San Bu Si—"not three not four." To the Taiwanese people, it's an idiom used to describe the punks, lowlifes, and losers of society—the ones who don't fit in, and never will. It's what they would call someone like Xiao Hei. Talented and self-destructive, young and reckless, Xiao Hei is the guitar player for Taipei punk band Resistant Strain. He and his band mates don't just play punk. In the vein of the music's more nihilistic Western progenitors, they take it as a lifestyle. Live Fast. Die Young. Get Drunk. Stay Broke. And yet, at the back of their minds,…


Book cover of Two Trees Make a Forest: In Search of My Family's Past Among Taiwan's Mountains and Coasts

John Grant Ross Author Of Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan, Past and Present

From my list on Taiwan and why you should visit.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Kiwi who has spent most of the past three decades in Asia. My books include Formosan Odyssey, You Don't Know China, and Taiwan in 100 Books. I live in a small town in southern Taiwan with my Taiwanese wife. When not writing, reading, or lusting over maps, I can be found on the abandoned family farm slashing jungle undergrowth (and having a sly drink). 

John's book list on Taiwan and why you should visit

John Grant Ross Why did John love this book?

Canadian Jessica Lee comes to Taiwan to unravel some family history (her grandfather, a pilot with the Flying Tigers, was part of the exodus to the island following the Nationalists’ defeat in China). A nature writer, Lee also investigates Taiwan’s beautiful mountain areas. The result is a well-written but sometimes odd mix of a family story and Taiwan’s plants. The country’s remarkable flora has too long been ignored in English-language works so it’s good to have it showcased, and by a capable writer. Two Trees Make a Forest is one of the most highly praised Taiwan titles of recent years.

By Jessica J. Lee,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Two Trees Make a Forest as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I have learned many words for 'island': isle, atoll, eyot, islet, or skerry. They exist in archipelagos or alone, and always, by definition, I have understood them by their relation to water. But the Chinese word for island knows nothing of water. For a civilisation grown inland from the sea, the vastness of mountains was a better analogue: (dao, 'island') built from the relationship between earth and sky.

Between tectonic plates and conflicting cultures, Taiwan is an island of extremes: high mountains, exposed flatlands, thick forests. After unearthing a hidden memoir of her grandfather's life, written on the cusp of…


Book cover of Bestiary

Shawna Yang Ryan Author Of Green Island

From my list on an otherworldly Taiwan.

Why am I passionate about this?

The ghostly/magical and Taiwan are two of my major interests—I have written about both in my fiction. After living in Taiwan for a few years and getting to know my mother’s side of the family, I gained an appreciation for its complicated history, riveting politics, and the energy of daily life there. Its confluence of people and histories has made it a unique cultural amalgam and these books capture the way folk religion and the spiritual/magical are wedded into the bustling contemporary urban life of Taiwan. I hope you find yourself as enchanted and intrigued by these stories as I have been!

Shawna's book list on an otherworldly Taiwan

Shawna Yang Ryan Why did Shawna love this book?

Though Bestiary is not set in Taiwan, K. Ming Chang’s debut novel incorporates a sense of enchantment not only in her queer retellings of Taiwanese folk tales, but also in her dazzling language. She casts a spell on the reader as a magician of language, making nouns and verbs work together in innovative ways. 

By K-Ming Chang,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Bestiary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Three generations of Taiwanese American women are haunted by the myths of their homeland in this blazing debut of one family's queer desires, violent impulses and buried secrets.

One evening, Mother tells Daughter a story about a tiger spirit who lived in a woman's body. Her name was Hu Gu Po, and she hungered to eat children, especially their toes. Soon afterwards, Daughter awakes with a tiger tail. And more mysterious events follow: Holes in the backyard spit up letters penned by her estranged grandmother; a visiting aunt leaves red on everything she touches; a ghost bird shimmers in an…


Book cover of The Hell Screens

Shawna Yang Ryan Author Of Green Island

From my list on an otherworldly Taiwan.

Why am I passionate about this?

The ghostly/magical and Taiwan are two of my major interests—I have written about both in my fiction. After living in Taiwan for a few years and getting to know my mother’s side of the family, I gained an appreciation for its complicated history, riveting politics, and the energy of daily life there. Its confluence of people and histories has made it a unique cultural amalgam and these books capture the way folk religion and the spiritual/magical are wedded into the bustling contemporary urban life of Taiwan. I hope you find yourself as enchanted and intrigued by these stories as I have been!

Shawna's book list on an otherworldly Taiwan

Shawna Yang Ryan Why did Shawna love this book?

One of my favorite books set in Taiwan, The Hell Screens is dreamy and chilling, creating a landscape of winding alleys, dark apartments, and half-seen ghosts. It captures some of the peculiar alienation that I felt like a newcomer in Taiwan. Alvin Lu has such a unique voice and way of depicting the world—I can’t wait for more work from him.

By Alvin Lu,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Hell Screens as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cheng-Ming, a Taiwanese American, rummages through the used-book stalls and market bins of Taipei. His object is no ordinary one; he's searching obsessively for accounts of ghosts and spirits, suicides and murders in a city plagued by a rapist-killer and less tangible forces. Cheng-Ming is an outsider trying to unmask both the fugitive criminal and the otherworld of spiritual forces that are inexorably taking control of the city. Things get complicated when the fetid island atmosphere begins to melt his contact lenses and his worsening sight paradoxically opens up the teeming world of ghosts and chimeras that surround him. Vengeful…


Book cover of Through Formosa: An Account of Japan's Island Colony

John Grant Ross Author Of Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan, Past and Present

From my list on Taiwan and why you should visit.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a Kiwi who has spent most of the past three decades in Asia. My books include Formosan Odyssey, You Don't Know China, and Taiwan in 100 Books. I live in a small town in southern Taiwan with my Taiwanese wife. When not writing, reading, or lusting over maps, I can be found on the abandoned family farm slashing jungle undergrowth (and having a sly drink). 

John's book list on Taiwan and why you should visit

John Grant Ross Why did John love this book?

A delightful travelogue based on a brief trip Rutter made in the spring of 1921, from Kaohsiung up the west coast to Taipei. At that time, Taiwan was a Japanese colony and largely closed to tourists, and Through Formosa a rare glimpse. Rutter was an English colonial administrator and rubber planter in Borneo, so as well as typical travel descriptions of transport, accommodation, and sights, we also get informed opinions on matters such as how the Japanese colonial government was developing agriculture and trying to assimilate the aborigines. 

By Owen Rutter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Through Formosa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Excerpt from Through Formosa

About the Publisher

Forgotten Books publishes hundreds of thousands of rare and classic books.

This book is a reproduction of an important historical work. Forgotten Books uses state-of-the-art technology to digitally reconstruct the work, preserving the original format whilst repairing imperfections present in the aged copy. In rare cases, an imperfection in the original, such as a blemish or missing page, may be replicated in our edition. We do, however, repair the vast majority of imperfections successfully; any imperfections that remain are intentionally left to preserve the state of such historical works. This text has been…


Book cover of Ghost Month

Shawna Yang Ryan Author Of Green Island

From my list on an otherworldly Taiwan.

Why am I passionate about this?

The ghostly/magical and Taiwan are two of my major interests—I have written about both in my fiction. After living in Taiwan for a few years and getting to know my mother’s side of the family, I gained an appreciation for its complicated history, riveting politics, and the energy of daily life there. Its confluence of people and histories has made it a unique cultural amalgam and these books capture the way folk religion and the spiritual/magical are wedded into the bustling contemporary urban life of Taiwan. I hope you find yourself as enchanted and intrigued by these stories as I have been!

Shawna's book list on an otherworldly Taiwan

Shawna Yang Ryan Why did Shawna love this book?

In Ghost Month, the first in a 4-book mystery series, Ed Lin vibrantly depicts nightlife in Taiwan, particularly in the night markets. I love this book for doing what John Gardner says good fiction should—it creates a “vivid and continuous dream,” bringing to life so much of the sensory experiences of Taipei. I could see, smell, hear, and taste this book!

By Ed Lin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ghost Month as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Welcome to Unknown Pleasures, a food stand in Taipei's night market named after a Joy Division album, and also the location for a big-hearted new mystery set in the often undocumented Taiwan.

August is Ghost Month in Taiwan—a time to pay respects to the dead and avoid unlucky omens. Jing-nan, who runs a food stand in a bustling Taipei night market, isn’t superstitious, but this August will haunt him nonetheless. He learns that his high school sweetheart has been murdered—found scantily clad near a highway where she was selling betel nuts. Beyond his harrowing grief, Jing-nan is confused. “Betel nut…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Taiwan, film, and presidential biography?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Taiwan, film, and presidential biography.

Taiwan Explore 38 books about Taiwan
Film Explore 231 books about film
Presidential Biography Explore 19 books about presidential biography