100 books like Miss Sophie's Diary and Other Stories

By Ding Ling,

Here are 100 books that Miss Sophie's Diary and Other Stories fans have personally recommended if you like Miss Sophie's Diary and Other Stories. 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 Severance

Jinwoo Chong Author Of Flux

From my list on to cure (or rather validate) your post-capitalist malaise.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2017, I was laid off from my first job out of college, an experience that I think more young people are going through as we move further into an uncertain economic future. That experience formed the basis of my novel, which was published earlier this year. Afterwards, I met a lot of people, most of whom I didn’t know, who told me they’d resonated with the feeling of malaise captured by those first few chapters: of working jobs that seem to be dead ends, wondering if you’ll be here, at this desk, twenty years from now. It’s something most everybody can relate to but doesn't appear in novels nearly as much as it should.

Jinwoo's book list on to cure (or rather validate) your post-capitalist malaise

Jinwoo Chong Why did Jinwoo love this book?

Objectively, Severance fits into many lists, being a masterpiece of literary fiction, as well as a speculative, near-future puzzle, as well as an intimate and moving portrait of survival both physical and metaphorical.

But it’s also an office novel, one that through sheer coincidence depicted the surrealism of white collar office work while a deadly pandemic enacts devastating change across the planet at exactly the same time it was happening in reality. The book is one of my favorites of all time. Every read offers something different.

By Ling Ma,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Maybe it’s the end of the world, but not for Candace Chen, a millennial, first-generation American and office drone meandering her way into adulthood in Ling Ma’s offbeat, wryly funny, apocalyptic satire, Severance.

"A stunning, audacious book with a fresh take on both office politics and what the apocalypse might bring." ―Michael Schaub, NPR.org

“A satirical spin on the end times-- kind of like The Office meets The Leftovers.” --Estelle Tang, Elle

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY: NPR * The New Yorker ("Books We Loved") * Elle * Marie Claire * Amazon Editors * The Paris Review…


Book cover of The Way of the Samurai Musashi Book 1

Joe Milan Jr. Author Of The All-American

From my list on coming-of-age while Asian.

Why am I passionate about this?

The heights of American literature are crowded with coming-of-age tales like Huckleberry Finn and Catcher and the Rye. It’s probably because for us, as Americans, figuring out what it means to be American is something that isn’t as clear as what it means to be from another country with thousands of years of existence behind it. Yet, the stories I was given rarely had people who looked like me (Asian) or lived lives that weren’t solely defined as being “foreign.” These books tell coming-of-age stories in different ways that I wish I had read when I was coming up to broaden my own mind with what was possible.

Joe's book list on coming-of-age while Asian

Joe Milan Jr. Why did Joe love this book?

Musashi is the first Asian superhero I read.

It’s about a young guy, Takezo” looking for adventure in war and ends up nearly killed, confused, and lost. He finds rebirth in discipline and study with a mysterious monk who starts him on his study of the ways of the sword. He goes on a quest to master the sword and ways of Buddhist truth, a quest where we watch this village kid become “Musashi.”

Its fight scenes are among the best I’ve ever read. And while the feeling of the story being propaganda lurks in the back of the mind (like every Hollywood action film), this was the very first novel that I read cover to cover.

By Eiji Yoshikawa,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Way of the Samurai Musashi Book 1 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Book by Eiji Yoshikawa


Book cover of Waylaid

Joe Milan Jr. Author Of The All-American

From my list on coming-of-age while Asian.

Why am I passionate about this?

The heights of American literature are crowded with coming-of-age tales like Huckleberry Finn and Catcher and the Rye. It’s probably because for us, as Americans, figuring out what it means to be American is something that isn’t as clear as what it means to be from another country with thousands of years of existence behind it. Yet, the stories I was given rarely had people who looked like me (Asian) or lived lives that weren’t solely defined as being “foreign.” These books tell coming-of-age stories in different ways that I wish I had read when I was coming up to broaden my own mind with what was possible.

Joe's book list on coming-of-age while Asian

Joe Milan Jr. Why did Joe love this book?

Waylaid is a bawdy coming-of-age novel about a Chinese American teenage boy working in his parents’ seedy motel – a vibrating bed kind of place – in New Jersey.

He broods about how to lose his virginity. He learns about the adult world from the patrons: Johns, sex workers, the families kicked out of their homes, and the rest of the down and out of American life. I gravitated to Waylaid because it isn’t wholesome yet doesn’t fall into the spirals of toxicity of a Bukowski poem.

It speaks to how sex is used to distract us from the working-class problems all around us, many of which our young are well aware of, but still holds onto this little flame of hope that even in such dark and down-and-out spots, we can find light.

By Ed Lin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Waylaid is the story of a Chinese American boy who struggles to grow up in the grip of an overcharged sexual environment. With a daily routine that involves renting out rooms to johns and hookers at his parents' sleazy hotel, the narrator loses his grip on concepts of friendship, family and childhood. As he pursues his all-consuming quest to lose his virginity, issues of race, class and sex cripple his sense of self-worth. It is a story told with a Gen-X-style bleak humor that doesn't pander to conventional notions of immigrant narrative. Waylaid doesn't cut a wide swath through Asian…


Book cover of Yellow: Stories

Joe Milan Jr. Author Of The All-American

From my list on coming-of-age while Asian.

Why am I passionate about this?

The heights of American literature are crowded with coming-of-age tales like Huckleberry Finn and Catcher and the Rye. It’s probably because for us, as Americans, figuring out what it means to be American is something that isn’t as clear as what it means to be from another country with thousands of years of existence behind it. Yet, the stories I was given rarely had people who looked like me (Asian) or lived lives that weren’t solely defined as being “foreign.” These books tell coming-of-age stories in different ways that I wish I had read when I was coming up to broaden my own mind with what was possible.

Joe's book list on coming-of-age while Asian

Joe Milan Jr. Why did Joe love this book?

When I really started writing, I sought out books with punchy prose that connected to some of my experiences.

Don Lee’s Yellow was one of the few books of short stories I found that did that. What’s cool about the title story “Yellow” is that it talks about an Asian guy who learns to box who is known to be sexy, and grapples with issues of courage.

Growing up as a young Asian guy, I was never handed a story about an Asian guy struggling to be a man like all other guys growing up in America. Reading this collection changed that and changed my own perceptions of what stories are possible when you’re coming to age as an Asian in America. 

By Don Lee,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

As the Los Angeles Times noted in its profile of the author, "few writers have mined the [genre of ethnic literature] as shrewdly or transcended its limits quite so stunningly as Don Lee." Harking "back to the timeless concerns of Chekhov: fate, chance, the mystery of the human heart" (Stuart Dybek), these interconnected stories "are utterly contemporary,...but grounded in the depth of beautiful prose and intriguing storylines" (Asian Week). They paint a novelistic portrait of the fictional town of Rosarita Bay, California, and a diverse cast of complex and moving characters. "Nothing short of wonderful...surprising and wild with life" (Robert…


Book cover of Longevity Park

Karen Laura Thornber Author Of Global Healing: Literature, Advocacy, Care

From my list on aging and end-of-life decisions and care.

Why am I passionate about this?

Karen Thornber is Harry Tuchman Levin Professor in Literature and Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard. Her work brings humanistic insights to global challenges.  Thornber is the author of the award-winning scholarly books Empire of Texts in Motion and Ecoambiguity as well as most recently Global Healing: Literature, Advocacy, Care. Current projects include books on gender justice in Asia, mental health, inequality/injustice, sustainability/climate change, and indigeneity.

Karen's book list on aging and end-of-life decisions and care

Karen Laura Thornber Why did Karen love this book?

This expertly translated Chinese novel tells the compelling story of a family in Beijing with an aging patriarch. Narrated largely from the perspective of the rural nurse hired to care for him, Longevity Park reveals the many difficulties facing Chinese individuals as they age as well as the difficulties facing Chinese families with an aging loved one. These challenges resonate with those of individuals and families globally, including pervasive stigmas against the elderly, particularly those who are not as agile mentally or physically as they once were; and the particular hurdles facing family members with their own mental health and other concerns. Zhou’s novel also eloquently describes the many hurdles facing healthcare providers.

By Zhou Daxin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

China is ageing. Its shrinking households, overworked and overstretched, struggle to carry the burden of care for their elderly. Retired Beijing judge Uncle Xiao is one among millions of old\-timers who face a hopeless choice: accept a lonely decline, or chase dubious miracle cures. Then into his life steps Miss Zhong, a young rural nurse with her own share of problems. The two have little in common, but as time delivers tragedies they learn that family can take many forms. Will this unlikely pair weather lifes storms together, and will Xiao find warmth in his sunset years?


Book cover of Party Members

Isham Cook Author Of The Mustachioed Woman of Shanghai

From my list on written by foreigners in China.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having lived in China for almost three decades, I am naturally interested in the expat writing scene. I am a voracious reader of fiction and nonfiction on China, past and present. One constant in this country is change, and that requires keeping up with the latest publications by writers who have lived here and know it well. As an author of three novels, one short story collection, and three essay collections on China myself, I believe I have something of my own to contribute of documentary value, although I tend to hew to gritty, offbeat themes to capture a contemporary China unknown to the West.

Isham's book list on written by foreigners in China

Isham Cook Why did Isham love this book?

Here we have the most politically incorrect of novels, an unflinchingly vicious take on China by a Westerner, though Party Members (pun on the second word) does have an acknowledged precursor in fellow Englishman Ralph Townsend’s Ways That Are Dark, an equally unsentimental account of China published in 1933. We follow the faceless bureaucrat protagonist, Yang Wei, as he inventively combines his passions for sex and KFC (China’s comfort food of choice) at one and the same time, and eggs on the state-sanctioned thugs who set his mother’s house on fire to clear it for developers – with her inside. To be fair, China is evolving out of the nasty pre-2008 Olympics era Meursault is documenting and this is after all satire. But the novel is not only very funny, it’s required reading precisely due to its pariah status.

By Arthur Meursault,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Deep within the heart of China, far from the glamour of Shanghai and Beijing, lies the Chinese every-city of Huaishi. This worker’s paradise of smog and concrete is home to Party Member Yang Wei, a mediocre man in a mediocre job. His content life of bureaucratic monotony is shattered by an encounter with the advanced consumer goods he has long been deprived of. Aided by the cynical and malicious advice of an unlikely mentor, Yang Wei embarks on a journey of greed, corruption, and murder that takes him to the diseased underbelly of Chinese society. 

Will Yang Wei achieve his…


Book cover of Once Upon A Time in the East: A Story of Growing up

Hallgrímur Helgason Author Of The Hitman's Guide to Housecleaning

From my list on me-against-the-world.

Why am I passionate about this?

Hallgrimur Helgason is an Icelandic artist and writer born in Reykjavik in 1959. He started out as a painter but then also took up writing. Since 1990 he has published eleven novels, the most well-known being 101 Reykjavik, which was turned into a popular film, The Hitman’s Guide to Housecleaning, and The Woman at 1000°. Helgason has also published 4 books of poetry and is an active political columnist. His books have been translated into 14 languages and three of them have been nominated for the Nordic Prize of Literature. Helgason won the Icelandic Literature Prize three times. In 2020 he was awarded the French medal Officier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres.

Hallgrímur's book list on me-against-the-world

Hallgrímur Helgason Why did Hallgrímur love this book?

The great Chinese British powerhouse writes about her childhood in a poor coastal village in post-Mao’s China where she’s made to live with her grandparents and life is rough and hard, especially for a girl. It’s a very atmospheric tale, that paints a vivid picture of this incredible society. It’s also a Cinderella story, about a suffering child that, thanks to incredible stubbornness and stamina, rises up to become one of the twelve (out of a million or so) applicants that are accepted into the Chinese Film School in Beijing each year. She later moves to England and her descriptions of the west are super fresh and priceless.

By Xiaolu Guo,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Once Upon A Time in the East as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Xiaolu Guo meets her parents for the first time when she is almost seven. They are strangers to her.

When she is born her parents hand her over to a childless peasant couple in the mountains. Aged two, and suffering from malnutrition on a diet of yam leaves, they leave Xiaolu with her illiterate grandparents in a fishing village on the East China Sea. It's a strange beginning.

A Wild Swans for a new generation, Once Upon a Time in the East takes Xiaolu from a run-down shack to film school in a rapidly changing Beijing, navigating the everyday peculiarity…


Book cover of Beijing Doll

Tom Carter Author Of China: Portrait of a People

From my list on naughty Chinese girls.

Why am I passionate about this?

Peeking over the American fence, I found myself in China in 2004 as the nation was transitioning from its quaint 1980s/90s self into the futuristic “China 2.0” we know it today. My occupation, like many expats, was small-town English teacher. I later departed for what would become a two-year backpacking sojourn across all 33 Chinese provinces, the first foreigner on record to do so. It was during this journey that I discovered the following five female writers, whose catty, carnal memoirs accompanied me like jealous mistresses vying for attention.

Tom's book list on naughty Chinese girls

Tom Carter Why did Tom love this book?

Chun Sue is like the literary little sister to Mian Mian and Wei Hui, copying her elder sisters and trying to follow in their footsteps – but stumbling because their heels were still too big for her to wear. In fact, despite its derivative nature, Beijing Doll did quite well, landing Chun on the cover of Time Magazine in 2004 and turning her into a pseudo-celebrity for her punky, tough-girl persona (a stark contrast to Wei’s slinky, sexy image). Western adult readers may roll their eyes at the melodramatic musings of middle-school heartbreak, but read within the context of its confining culture, Beijing Doll is no less an important addition to the annals of Chinese literature.

By Chun Sue,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Banned in China for its candid exploration of a young girl's sexual awakening yet widely acclaimed as being "the first novel of 'tough youth' in China" (Beijing Today), Beijing Doll cuts a daring path through China's rock-and-roll subculture. This cutting edge novel -- drawn from the diaries the author kept throughout her teenage years -- takes readers to the streets of Beijing where a disaffected generation spurns tradition for lives of self expression, passion, and rock-and-roll. Chun Sue's explicit sensuality, unflinching attitude towards sex, and raw, lyrical style break new ground in contemporary Chinese literature.


Book cover of The Last Days of Old Beijing: Life in the Vanishing Backstreets of a City Transformed

Isham Cook Author Of At the Teahouse Cafe: Essays from the Middle Kingdom

From my list on old Beijing.

Why am I passionate about this?

Having lived in China for almost three decades, I am naturally interested in the expat writing scene. I am a voracious reader of fiction and nonfiction on China, past and present. One constant in this country is change, and that requires keeping up with the latest publications by writers who have lived here and know it well. As an author of three novels, one short story collection, and three essay collections on China myself, I believe I have something of my own to contribute, although I tend to hew to gritty, offbeat themes to capture a contemporary China unknown to the West.

Isham's book list on old Beijing

Isham Cook Why did Isham love this book?

Books on Chinese cities by foreigners have long lamented the redevelopment juggernaut’s steamrolling of old buildings and neighborhoods (Juliet Bredon’s Peking for one). Meyer’s exhaustively researched study of the Beijing neighborhood in which he lived in the early 2000s takes this a step further to a grassroots political call for action, before “replicas replace architectural heritage across China.” By illuminating his neighbors’ lives and their histories and reaching back into the city’s past, Meyer attempts to immortalize the disappearing Dashilar neighborhood literally in the form of a book, which if nothing else will be of future documentary value. Driving the old-vs.-new dichotomy too hard, however, obscures the more interesting question of how Chinese cities today are creatively blending the old and the new, as again they have long done in the past. As a longtime Beijing resident, I am stuck with the present and nonetheless find that history doesn’t stop…

By Michael Meyer,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Days of Old Beijing as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Journalist Michael Meyer has spent his adult life in China, first in a small village as a Peace Corps volunteer, the last decade in Beijing--where he has witnessed the extraordinary transformation the country has experienced in that time. For the past two years he has been completely immersed in the ancient city, living on one of its famed hutong in a century-old courtyard home he shares with several families, teaching English at a local elementary school--while all around him "progress" closes in as the neighborhood is methodically destroyed to make way for high-rise buildings, shopping malls, and other symbols of…


Book cover of Tao of Sketching: The Complete Guide to Chinese Sketching Techniques

Sylvia Vetta Author Of Brushstrokes in Time

From my list on the heart and soul of China.

Why am I passionate about this?

I studied modern Chinese history so, when Qu Leilei told me the story of the Stars Art Movement, I couldn’t understand why I hadn't heard their courageous story. I spent three years interviewing Qu Leilei, researching and visiting China with him before writing the Stars story as a historical novel. I am a freelance writer, author, and speaker.

Sylvia's book list on the heart and soul of China

Sylvia Vetta Why did Sylvia love this book?

I was reviewing Qu Leilei’s Everyone’s life is an Epic at the Ashmolean when a chance encounter changed my life. While writing Qu's profile, I learned about the first contemporary art movement in China - the Stars in Beijing in 1979 - and spent three years interviewing him for the background to Brushstrokes in Time

Leilei’s art is imbued with deep humanity but he is also a fine teacher- hence my recommending The Tao of Sketching. Daoism influenced traditional Chinese art and is a focus for meditation. The empty space is important. If you want to get into that cultural mindset, try Leilei’s books.

By Qu Lei Lei,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Award-winning artist Qu Lei Lei offers an inspirational view of art from the Chinese perspective. Instead of looking at the sketch as an end in itself, he focuses on the work as personal fulfillment for the artist and as a valued meditation. All the essential techniques are here?from choosing and using materials to mixing the ink to mastering brushstrokes. With the natural world as his subject, Lei Lei pulls out key features?water, trees, landscapes?and focuses on practical ways of depicting their different varieties. A master class covers techniques for capturing pets at play, and for conveying the spirit of all…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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