100 books like Catfish and Mandala

By Andrew X. Pham,

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

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Book cover of Bicycle: The History

Evan P. Schneider Author Of A Simple Machine, Like the Lever

From my list on the beautiful act of bicycling.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a cyclist from a young age (thanks to the encouragement and engineering of my dad—he literally welded one of my first bikes together from the carcass of another kid’s bike that was run over by a car in his driveway on accident), I’ve always had a fondness for bicycles and, more specifically, *riding* bicycles. So, as is probably common for anyone who is fond of something, I’ve spent years exploring it from as many angles as possible. In the process, I’ve loved studying bicycles in motion, along with collecting artistic and philosophical expressions that center the act of getting around on two wheels under your own power. 

Evan's book list on the beautiful act of bicycling

Evan P. Schneider Why did Evan love this book?

For the history-curious cyclists among us, I submit for your consideration David V. Herlihy’s excellently-researched and well-told history of the two-wheeled machine we love so much.

From its beginnings as a literal “bone shaker” (an iron frame on wooden wheels), to the impossibly-light machines of the 20th and 21st centuries, Herlihy’s tale of cycling commerce, commuting, and competition over time and across the world is as enlightening as it is entertaining.

I’ve turned to it again and again for its historical perspective (and its great photos).

By David V. Herlihy,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Bicycle as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first comprehensive history of the bicycle-lavishly illustrated with images spanning two centuries

During the nineteenth century, the bicycle evoked an exciting new world in which even a poor person could travel afar and at will. But was the "mechanical horse" truly destined to usher in a new era of road travel or would it remain merely a plaything for dandies and schoolboys? In Bicycle: The History (named by Outside magazine as the #1 book on bicycles), David Herlihy recounts the saga of this far-reaching invention and the passions it aroused. The pioneer racer James Moore insisted the bicycle would…


Book cover of Around the World on a Bicycle - From San Francisco to Tehran

Peter Zheutlin Author Of Spin: A Novel Based on a (Mostly) True Story

From my list on bicycles and cycling.

Why am I passionate about this?

About thirty years ago I learned that my great-grandaunt Annie was, arguably, the first woman to circle the world by bicycle (1894-1895) and I spent years rescuing her story from the trash bin of history, for she was virtually forgotten for more than a century. An avid cyclist myself, Annie became both my muse and my inspiration. She was an outlandish character who stepped far outside the bounds of what was expected for women of her time; among other things, she was the married mother of three young children when she took off from Boston for fifteen months on the road, and she pioneered sports-related marketing for women, securing corporate sponsors and adorning her body and her bicycle with advertisements wherever she traveled.

Peter's book list on bicycles and cycling

Peter Zheutlin Why did Peter love this book?

First published in 1887, Stevens was the first person to circumnavigate the earth on a bicycle, and a high-wheeler at that. Over three years he pedaled, pushed, and dragged his bicycle through all corners of the globe on one of the most epic journeys ever undertaken.

By Thomas Stevens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Around the World on a Bicycle - From San Francisco to Tehran as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Around the World on a Bicycle - From San Francisco to Tehran" is a fascinating and profusely-illustrated account of an epic bicycle journey around the world. Starting in America and travelling through Europe, the Middle East, and Finally Asia, the author's entire adventure is here chronicled for the enjoyment of bicycle and travel enthusiasts alike. Contents include: "Over the Sierras Nevadas", "Over the Deserts of Nevada", "Through Mormon-Land and over the Rockies", "From the Great Plains to the Atlantic", "From America to the German Frontier", "Germany, Austria, and Hungary", "Through Slavonia and Servia", "Bulgaria, Roumella, and into Turkey", "Through European…


Book cover of Life Is a Wheel: Memoirs of a Bike-Riding Obituarist

Peter Zheutlin Author Of Spin: A Novel Based on a (Mostly) True Story

From my list on bicycles and cycling.

Why am I passionate about this?

About thirty years ago I learned that my great-grandaunt Annie was, arguably, the first woman to circle the world by bicycle (1894-1895) and I spent years rescuing her story from the trash bin of history, for she was virtually forgotten for more than a century. An avid cyclist myself, Annie became both my muse and my inspiration. She was an outlandish character who stepped far outside the bounds of what was expected for women of her time; among other things, she was the married mother of three young children when she took off from Boston for fifteen months on the road, and she pioneered sports-related marketing for women, securing corporate sponsors and adorning her body and her bicycle with advertisements wherever she traveled.

Peter's book list on bicycles and cycling

Peter Zheutlin Why did Peter love this book?

Weber was for many years the lead obituary writer for The New York Times, hence the somewhat odd subtitle of this wry chronicle of a bicycle journey from Oregon to New York City. Weber has a sardonic wit that may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

By Bruce Weber,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Life Is a Wheel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Life Is a Wheel chronicles the cross-country bicycle trip Bruce Weber made at the age of fifty-seven, an “entertaining travel story filled with insightful thoughts about life, family, and aging” (The Associated Press).

During the summer and fall of 2011, Bruce Weber, an obituary writer for The New York Times, bicycled across the country, alone, and wrote about it as it unfolded. Life Is a Wheel is the witty, inspiring, and reflective diary of his journey, in which the challenges and rewards of self-reliance and strenuous physical effort yield wry and incisive observations about cycling and America, not to mention…


Book cover of Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (with a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)

Peter Zheutlin Author Of Spin: A Novel Based on a (Mostly) True Story

From my list on bicycles and cycling.

Why am I passionate about this?

About thirty years ago I learned that my great-grandaunt Annie was, arguably, the first woman to circle the world by bicycle (1894-1895) and I spent years rescuing her story from the trash bin of history, for she was virtually forgotten for more than a century. An avid cyclist myself, Annie became both my muse and my inspiration. She was an outlandish character who stepped far outside the bounds of what was expected for women of her time; among other things, she was the married mother of three young children when she took off from Boston for fifteen months on the road, and she pioneered sports-related marketing for women, securing corporate sponsors and adorning her body and her bicycle with advertisements wherever she traveled.

Peter's book list on bicycles and cycling

Peter Zheutlin Why did Peter love this book?

Written for young adults and kids, this book does an excellent job teaching an underappreciated (and relatively unknown) chapter in women’s history. We take the bicycle for granted today, but it was the catalyst for radical changes in the lives of women in the U.S. and Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

By Sue Macy,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Take a lively look at women's history from aboard a bicycle, which granted females the freedom of mobility and helped empower women's liberation. Through vintage photographs, advertisements, cartoons, and songs,aWheels of Changeatransports young readers to bygone eras to see how women used the bicycle to improve their lives. Witty in tone and scrapbook-like in presentation, the book deftly covers early (and comical) objections, influence on fashion, and impact on social change inspired by the bicycle, which, according to Susan B. Anthony, "has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world." NCSS-Notable Social Studies Trade Books in the…


Book cover of The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars

Christopher Goscha Author Of Vietnam: A New History

From my list on memoirs on the Vietnam Wars from a Vietnamese perspective.

Why am I passionate about this?

Who hasn’t seen the classic American movies on the Vietnam War–Apocalypse Now, The Deer Hunter, or Platoon? They are fine films, but have you ever asked yourself where the Vietnamese are? Save for a few stereotyped cameo appearances, they are remarkably absent. I teach the history of the wars in Vietnam at the Université du Québec à Montréal. My students and I explore the French and the American sides in the wars for Vietnam, but one of the things that I’ve tried to do with them is weave the Vietnamese and their voices into our course; this list provides a window into those Vietnamese voices. 

Christopher's book list on memoirs on the Vietnam Wars from a Vietnamese perspective

Christopher Goscha Why did Christopher love this book?

In this book, Andrew Pham tells the story of his father’s life through three wars for Vietnamthe brutal Japanese occupation of the country during the Second World War, the French colonial assault on Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam, and the failed American intervention in South Vietnam to protect it from communism.

We see each war through the eyes of Pham Van Thong, from his experiences growing up as a child in contested areas south of Hanoi to his family’s exodus to the south after the division of Vietnam into two halves in 1954.

It’s a tragic story of a wealthy, non-communist family in central Vietnam uprooted by the vagaries of war, but it’s also the record of extraordinary human resiliency. This powerful memoir will not leave you indifferent.

By Andrew X. Pham,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the Ten Best Books of the Year, Washington Post Book World
One of the Los Angeles Times’ Favorite Books of the Year
One of the Top Ten National Books of 2008, Portland Oregonian
A 2009 Honor Book of the Asian/Pacific American Librarians Association

“Few books have combined the historical scope and the literary skill to give the ­foreign reader a sense of events from a Vietnamese perspective. . . . Now we can add Andrew Pham’s Eaves of Heaven to this list of indispensable books.”
—New York Times Book Review

“Searing . . . vivid–and harrowing . .…


Book cover of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain: Stories

Tobey C. Herzog Author Of Writing Vietnam, Writing Life: Caputo, Heinemann, O'Brien, Butler

From my list on Vietnam War literature by authors I've interviewed.

Why am I passionate about this?

From an early age, I have made a life out of listening to, telling, teaching, and writing about war stories. I am intrigued by their widespread personal and public importance. My changing associations with these stories and their tellers have paralleled evolving stages in my life—son, soldier, father, and college professor. Each stage has spawned different questions and insights about the tales and their narrators. At various moments in my own life, these war stories have also given rise to fantasized adventure, catharsis, emotional highs and lows, insights about human nature tested within the crucible of war, and intriguing relationships with the storytellers—their lives and minds.

Tobey's book list on Vietnam War literature by authors I've interviewed

Tobey C. Herzog Why did Tobey love this book?

Awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, this collection of short stories draws upon Butler’s fluency in the Vietnamese language, his experiences as an Army intelligence specialist living in Saigon during the war, and later his extensive contacts with Vietnamese communities in and near New Orleans, Louisiana. These stories are Vietnamese aftermath tales of émigrés adjusting to post-war life in America and yearning to retain their individual and cultural identities—a quest Butler described “as a pursuit of self” in our 2005 interview. For me, this book illuminates the culture, history, and communities that I, and most American soldiers, never attempted to know when we were in Vietnam and tended to ignore once Vietnamese resettled in the U.S. This book reaffirms for me that despite our many differences, we are all linked by the joys, sorrows, and hopes of our universal human condition. 

By Robert Olen Butler,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Robert Olen Butler's lyrical and poignant collection of stories about the aftermath of the Vietnam War and its impact on the Vietnamese was acclaimed by critics across the nation and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1993. A contemporary classic by one of America's most important living writers, this edition of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain includes two subsequently published stories that brilliantly complete the collection's narrative journey, returning to the jungles of Vietnam.


Book cover of The Best We Could Do

Conrad Wesselhoeft Author Of Adios, Nirvana

From my list on memoir-based graphic novels.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve worked as a tugboat hand in Singapore and Peace Corps Volunteer in Polynesia. I’ve served on the editorial staffs of five newspapers, from a small-town daily in New Mexico to The New York Times. I’m also the author of contemporary novels for young adults. Like the writers of these five great graphic novels, I choose themes that are important to me. Foremost are hope, healing, family, and friendship. These are themes I’d like my own children to embrace. Life can be hard, so as a writer I choose to send out that “ripple of hope” on the chance it may be heard or felt, and so make a difference.

Conrad's book list on memoir-based graphic novels

Conrad Wesselhoeft Why did Conrad love this book?

This is a superb personal memoir about the Vietnam War and its impact on four generations of one South Vietnamese family. Unlike the legion of memoirs told from the U.S. perspective, Vietnam-born American author Thi Bui gives us the harrowing local view. By compressing her sprawling story into a tight, gripping, intimate tale, she demonstrates the storytelling power of the graphic-novel form. Here hope triumphs and tragedy is merely a runner-up. 

By Thi Bui,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Best We Could Do as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 13, 14, 15, and 16.

What is this book about?

National bestseller
2017 National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) Finalist
ABA Indies Introduce Winter / Spring 2017 Selection
Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Spring 2017 Selection
ALA 2018 Notable Books Selection

An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family's journey from war-torn Vietnam, from debut author Thi Bui.

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family's daring escape…


Book cover of A Different Pond

Why am I passionate about this?

As an adoptive parent and a Korean-American immigrant, caring for others is my passion. I was only nine months old when I made the journey to America with my parents, so I only felt “American” growing up. It wasn’t until college that I genuinely started to appreciate my heritage. But perhaps, if I had seen more stories that reflected me, sharing family stories with love and finding hope amidst hardship, maybe I would’ve appreciated and even celebrated my difference a little more. That’s why I love sharing my family stories now. Everyone can relate to them on different levels. 

Ann's book list on picture books about caring for others, sharing family stories with love, and finding hope amidst hardship

Ann Suk Wang Why did Ann love this book?

I love how hard-working and dedicated this immigrant father is in feeding his family. When the child joins their father early one morning to go fishing for breakfast, hardships from the past are revealed while consistently making the best of today. The resilience of this family gives me strength and hope.

By Bao Phi, Thi Bui (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked A Different Pond as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 6, 7, and 8.

What is this book about?

A 2018 Caldecott Honor Book that Kirkus Reviews calls "a must-read for our times," A Different Pond is an unforgettable story about a simple event - a long-ago fishing trip. Graphic novelist Thi Bui and acclaimed poet Bao Phi deliver a powerful, honest glimpse into a relationship between father and son - and between cultures, old and new. As a young boy, Bao and his father awoke early, hours before his father's long work day began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in a Western city. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food,…


Book cover of Inside Out & Back Again

Tina Athaide Author Of Orange for the Sunsets

From my list on historical events unfolding.

Why am I passionate about this?

As a child, I loved escaping into my character’s world—solving mysteries with Nancy Drew, getting into trouble like Anne from Anne of Green Gables, and diving into adventures with Enid Blyton’s Famous Five. But I never saw anyone like myself in those books. A girl with black hair and coffee-colored skin, who licked the last samosa crumb off her fingers. That's one of the reasons I write and read historical fiction. It allows you to take a ride with a person from that place and time, and the first rule of time travel is that you cannot change the past. But when you finish reading you may discover that the past has changed you. 

Tina's book list on historical events unfolding

Tina Athaide Why did Tina love this book?

Growing up, I heard stories about the Vietnam war. Many refugees immigrated to the USA and Canada. I remember a brother and sister enrolling at my school in Alberta. They were from Saigon and had fled Vietnam. They only stayed at my school for a month, but we shared a lunch table during those four weeks and exchanged smiles and a few words as we tried to bridge the language gap. This story is about Hà and her family. Similar to my book, this story is inspired by the author’s childhood experiences, which is what first drew me to the book. It is a favorite among my students.

By Thanhhà Lai,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Inside Out & Back Again as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Ten-year-old Ha has only ever known Saigon: the thrills of its markets, the joy of its traditions, and the warmth of her family and friends close by. But when the Vietnam War reaches the gates of her home, Ha and her family are forced to flee.

The journey onboard a refugee ship bound for America is hard - but nothing can prepare Ha for the strangeness of the country that greets them on the other side. The language is impossible, the food is strange - and not all the locals are friendly. But amongst her struggles, Ha finds joy, friendship…


Book cover of A PHO Love Story

Zoë Markham Author Of Under My Skin

From my list on YA retellings of the classics.

Why am I passionate about this?

In my previous role as a teacher, I often encountered teens who never, ever read outside of school – and hated having to read in school. Finding YA retellings of the classics became an indispensable tool for me in terms of not only linking the past with the present for the young adults in my classes, but also in terms of helping them see themselves in fiction, finding representation there, and discovering their own importance. It opened up whole worlds for all of us, and offered a pathway to a love of reading that I hope they will never forget!

Zoë's book list on YA retellings of the classics

Zoë Markham Why did Zoë love this book?

Romeo & Juliet retellings are, in my opinion, the absolute hardest ones to bring anything new to, but Le’s own voices portrayal of Vietnamese culture smashed all my preconceptions and turned what’s often a dry, predictable format into something so insightful and compelling it genuinely took my breath away. With real, authentic teenage protags facing real, contemporary issues, we get an insight into the turmoil of the lives of ‘ordinary’ teens far removed from the ‘glossy’ veneers we’re often presented in YA fiction. A Pho Love Story speaks a unique, powerful truth – and brings a breath of fresh air not only to the original but also to the genre as a whole. (Caution: parts of this book will make you extremely hungry!)

By Loan Le,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A PHO Love Story as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

All's fair in love, war and noodles! This delicious debut is perfect for fans of teen romcoms such as When Dimple Met Rishi and Jenny Han's To All the Boys I've Loved Before.

What if Romeo and Juliet was set in a Vietnamese restaurant?

Linh and Bao like each other. A lot. The only problem? Their families own rival pho restaurants and hate each other's guts, so they have to keep their relationship a secret.

But they can only steal kisses in dark alleys and the art room at school for so long. Can their love transcend an age-old feud…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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