100 books like Playing in Isolation

By Junwei Yu,

Here are 100 books that Playing in Isolation fans have personally recommended if you like Playing in Isolation. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Lost Colony

By Tonio Andrade,

Book cover of Lost Colony: The Untold Story of China's First Great Victory Over the West

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

From the list on Taiwan’s history.

Who am I?

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’s history

Why did John love this book?

Few stood against many as the fate of Taiwan hung in the balance. This is a gripping account of the 1660s clash between Ming loyalist Koxinga and besieged Dutch colonists at Fort Zeelandia. Written by a historian with a flair for narrative, Taiwan’s most exciting historical episode is recounted in fascinating detail, with twists and turns, and wide zooms out for comparisons of European and Chinese technological prowess. It’s an accessible book yet so richly informative and dramatic that it rewards multiple readings. 

By Tonio Andrade,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

During the seventeenth century, Holland created the world's most dynamic colonial empire, outcompeting the British and capturing Spanish and Portuguese colonies. Yet, in the Sino-Dutch War - Europe's first war with China - the Dutch met their match in a colorful Chinese warlord named Koxinga. Part samurai, part pirate, he led his generals to victory over the Dutch and captured one of their largest and richest colonies - Taiwan. How did he do it? Examining the strengths and weaknesses of European and Chinese military techniques during the period, Lost Colony provides a balanced new perspective on long-held assumptions about Western…


Accidental State

By Hsiao-ting Lin,

Book cover of Accidental State: Chiang Kai-Shek, the United States, and the Making of Taiwan

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

From the list on Taiwan’s history.

Who am I?

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’s history

Why did John love this book?

How did Taiwan become the country it is today, how did it become the Republic of China? Hsiao-ting Lin, a leading Taiwanese historian and an archivist at Stanford’s Hoover Institute, convincingly argues that the Nationalist state in Taiwan under Chiang Kai-shek came about in large part from happenstance. The book draws on both English- and Chinese-language archival materials, including newly released official files and personal papers to explain what happened to Taiwan in the crucial years following World War II; it also examines what didn’t happen but might have, such as the island being placed under temporary American trusteeship. Accidental State is unbiased and nuanced history, and packed with fun but intelligent counterfactual nuggets.

By Hsiao-ting Lin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The existence of two Chinese states-one controlling mainland China, the other controlling the island of Taiwan-is often understood as a seemingly inevitable outcome of the Chinese civil war. Defeated by Mao Zedong, Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists fled to Taiwan to establish a rival state, thereby creating the "Two Chinas" dilemma that vexes international diplomacy to this day. Accidental State challenges this conventional narrative to offer a new perspective on the founding of modern Taiwan.

Hsiao-ting Lin marshals extensive research in recently declassified archives to show that the creation of a Taiwanese state in the early 1950s owed more to serendipity than…


A Taste of Freedom

By Ming-Min Peng,

Book cover of A Taste of Freedom: Memoirs of a Taiwanese Independence Leader

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

From the list on Taiwan’s history.

Who am I?

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’s history

Why did John love this book?

For a readable work about a political figure, it’s hard to beat this moving autobiography of a reluctant hero and his journey from bookish youth to renowned scholar to political dissident. Alongside the personal story, it gives a broad sweep of Taiwanese history; the increasingly militaristic Japanese rule of the 1930s, the disastrous early years of KMT rule, and the decades of White Terror political suffocation. The book was originally published in 1972 in English, two years after the author’s daring escape from house arrest in Taipei to freedom in the West. 

By Ming-Min Peng,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Peng Ming-min was imprisoned by the Kuomintang regime in Taiwan during the White Terror era for subversion. He was released from prison but still under house arrest when he evaded his minders and fled the country, first to Sweden and then to the US, where he led the fight for democracy in his homeland. He returned to stand as a candidate in the first democratic presidential elections in 1996. A Taste of Freedom is his incredible story.


A Culinary History of Taipei

By Steven Crook, Katy Hui-Wen Hung,

Book cover of A Culinary History of Taipei: Beyond Pork and Ponlai

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

From the list on Taiwan’s history.

Who am I?

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’s history

Why did John love this book?

Despite the title, this is a history of the food of Taiwan, not just Taipei. The “ponlai” in the subtitle refers to a strain of rice developed in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial period, stickier and quicker maturing than the indica rice cultivated previously; and this specificity gives a good indication of the admirable depth the book goes into. There’s great breadth too, the authors covering almost everything you might be curious about, whether aboriginal crops or traditional banquet culture, religious food offerings, food folklore and prohibitions, the evolution of basic ingredients, and the origin stories of iconic dishes.

By Steven Crook, Katy Hui-Wen Hung,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Culinary History of Taipei as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

There is a compelling story behind Taiwan's recent emergence as a food destination of international significance. A Culinary History of Taipei is the first comprehensive English-language examination of what Taiwan's people eat and why they eat those foods, as well as the role and perception of particular foods.

Distinctive culinary traditions have not merely survived the travails of recent centuries, but grown more complex and enticing. Taipei is a city where people still buy fresh produce almost every morning of the year; where weddings are celebrated with streetside bando banquets; and where baristas craft cups of world-class coffee. Wherever there…


The Catcher Was a Spy

By Nicholas Dawidoff,

Book cover of The Catcher Was a Spy: The Mysterious Life of Moe Berg

R.D. Rosen Author Of Tough Luck: Sid Luckman, Murder, Inc., and the Rise of the Modern NFL

From the list on Jews and sports.

Who am I?

I am an author whose works have spanned several genres, from mysteries (I won an Edgar for Strike Three You’re Dead), to psychology (I coined the word “psychobabble” and wrote a book about it), to humor (Bad Cat and Bad Dog were both bestsellers), and, more lately to nonfiction, including Such Good Girls, true story of three Jewish women who survived the Holocaust. I have worked in television as a comedian, writer, and producer, and as a senior editor in the publishing industry, but my first and enduring love is the magic of writing.

R.D.'s book list on Jews and sports

Why did R.D. love this book?

As Dawidoff writes in this account of elusive Berg (1902-72), the major league catcher who also worked for the US as a spy, “[Hank] Greenberg punctured the stereotype that Jews were unathletic. Berg suggests that you could get a top education and be a ballplayer too.” A Princeton graduate who could speak twelve languages (but couldn’t hit in any of them), the OSS sent him to Germany during World War II to determine the state of Germany’s atomic bomb capacity. Rebuffed by the CIA after the war, the secretive, impoverished, self-consciously Jewish Berg became a world-wandering Jew. One of his prized possessions: a card that let him in for free to any major league stadium.

By Nicholas Dawidoff,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Catcher Was a Spy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NATIONAL BESTSELLER
Now a major motion picture starring Paul Rudd

“A delightful book that recounts one of the strangest episodes in the history of espionage. . . . . Relentlessly entertaining.”—The New York Times Book Review

Moe Berg is the only major-league baseball player whose baseball card is on display at the headquarters of the CIA. For Berg was much more than a third-string catcher who played on several major league teams between 1923 and 1939. Educated at Princeton and the Sorbonne, he as reputed to speak a dozen languages (although it was also said he couldn't hit in any…


The Cloudbuster Nine

By Anne R. Keene,

Book cover of The Cloudbuster Nine: The Untold Story of Ted Williams and the Baseball Team That Helped Win World War II

Jim Noles Author Of Undefeated: From Basketball to Battle: West Point's Perfect Season 1944

From the list on sports during World War II that inspire me.

Who am I?

I’m an “Army brat” who attended five different middle and high schools, graduated from West Point (where I majored in international history), and later attended law school. The law is my profession, but writing is my avocation, and I’ve been fortunate to have several military histories published. I reside in Birmingham, Alabama, with my wife, our youngest son, and two untrained, incorrigible dogs. As far as my latest book is concerned, they like to say at West Point that “the history that we teach was made by people we taught.” In my case, I guess it was “the history I wrote about was made by people wearing the same uniform that I wore.”

Jim's book list on sports during World War II that inspire me

Why did Jim love this book?

In The Cloudbuster Nine, Anne Keene not only channels her father’s memories of his own dreams of baseball glory but also recounts the tale of a collection of fighter-pilot cadets—men like the legendary Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, and Johnny Swain—who, while preparing for flight training in the U.S. Navy’s V-5 pre-flight program during World War II. In doing so, she provides a fascinating overview (and reminder) of what World War II meant for many of America’s star athletes—and what those athletes meant for America’s war effort. 

By Anne R. Keene,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 1943, while the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals were winning pennants and meeting in that year's World Series, one of the nation's strongest baseball teams practiced on a skinned-out college field in the heart of North Carolina. Ted Williams, Johnny Pesky, and Johnny Sain were among a cadre of fighter-pilot cadets who wore the Cloudbuster Nine baseball jersey at an elite Navy training school at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

As a child, Anne Keene's father, Jim Raugh, suited up as the team batboy and mascot. He got to know his baseball heroes personally,…


Baseball Saved Us

By Ken Mochizuki, Dom Lee (illustrator),

Book cover of Baseball Saved Us

Kelly Bennett Author Of The House That Ruth Built

From the list on baseball players of color for little sluggers.

Who am I?

No one really knows who invented baseball. Games involving balls hit with sticks, runners, and bases are as old as time. By the middle of the 1800s, everybody in America was playing baseball. And I mean everybody—girls, boys, women, and men from all walks of life and heritage.  While researching baseball history for The House That Ruth Built, I read stacks of baseball books about baseball legends—for the most part, White players like Babe Ruth or Black players like Jackie Robinson who broke the color barrier. I was surprised and delighted when I came across books about baseball players who represented the rest of everybody—hence this list.

Kelly's book list on baseball players of color for little sluggers

Why did Kelly love this book?

Baseball fans of today, watching Shohei Ohtani and other players of Japanese heritage, might find it difficult to imagine how during World War Two, thousands of Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, but that’s the world as it was.

Shorty and his father’s efforts to build a baseball diamond and form a league while imprisoned is the story of determination, overcoming adversity, and gaining self-respect, told simply and heartfully. 

By Ken Mochizuki, Dom Lee (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Best Multicultural Title - Cuffies Award, Publisher's Weekly
Choices, Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC)
Editor's Choice, San Francisco Chronicle
Not Just for Children Anymore Selection, Children's Book Council

Twenty-five years ago, Baseball Saved Us changed the picture-book landscape with its honest story of a Japanese American boy in an internment camp during World War II. This anniversary edition will introduce new readers to this modern-day classic.

One day my dad looked out at the endless desert and decided then and there to build a baseball field.

"Shorty" and his family, along with thousands of other Japanese Americans, have been forced…


Jackie Robinson

By Arnold Rampersad,

Book cover of Jackie Robinson: A Biography

Vladimir Alexandrov Author Of To Break Russia's Chains: Boris Savinkov and His Wars Against the Tsar and the Bolsheviks

From the list on grit transforms people’s lives.

Who am I?

After more than thirty years of teaching Russian literature and culture at Yale and Harvard, and publishing numerous academic articles and monographs, I switched to writing historical biographies for a general audience. The catalyst was my discovery of Frederick Bruce Thomas, the remarkable son of former slaves in Mississippi who became a multimillionaire impresario in tsarist Moscow and the “Sultan of Jazz” in Constantinople. This resulted in The Black Russian, a widely praised biography that is now well on track to being made into a TV series. I am always drawn to stories of people whose grit makes them rebel against the limits that life seems to impose and allows them to achieve something transcendent.

Vladimir's book list on grit transforms people’s lives

Why did Vladimir love this book?

Because it’s the amazing story of how a supremely gifted and charismatic young Black man overcame his impoverished background and the racism endemic in the United States to break the color barrier in the national sport—baseball, and became an iconic figure in the struggle for civil rights. Rampersad’s unprecedented access to Robinson’s papers allowed him to paint a detailed, intimate, and moving portrait of a courageous and defiant man.

By Arnold Rampersad,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The extraordinary life of Jackie Robinson is illuminated as never before in this full-scale biography by Arnold Rampersad, who was chosen by Jack's widow, Rachel, to tell her husband's story, and was given unprecedented access to his private papers. We are brought closer than we have ever been to the great ballplayer, a man of courage and quality who became a pivotal figure in the areas of race and civil rights.

Born in the rural South, the son of a sharecropper, Robinson was reared in southern California. We see him blossom there as a student-athlete as he struggled against poverty…


Summerland

By Michael Chabon,

Book cover of Summerland

Daniel Paisner Author Of A Single Happened Thing

From the list on baseball novels.

Who am I?

I’m a writer and a lifelong baseball fan with a weakness for baseball-ish fiction. For a lot of folks, this means reading the usual suspects: Kinsella, Malamud, Coover, Roth, DeLillo... But I especially enjoy stumbling across under-the-radar novels that can’t help but surprise in their own ways. I enjoy this so much, in fact, I went out and wrote one of my own – inspired by the life and career of an all-but-forgotten ballplayer from the 1880s named Fred “Sure Shot” Dunlap, one of the greats of the game in his time. In the stuff of his life there was the stuff of meaning and moment… of the sort you’ll find in the books I’m recommending here.

Daniel's book list on baseball novels

Why did Daniel love this book?

It feels a little misleading to suggest that a Michael Chabon book is widely underread, but this one almost never comes up when I talk to writers and readers about their favorite baseball novels.  Perhaps it’s because Chabon, one of our most celebrated writers, imagined Summerland as a book for young readers, and while it is surely that, it is also surely so much more. It’s strange and wonderful and oh so beautifully written. The author’s prose jumps off every page with an exit velocity that demands your attention. Read it with your kids or your grandkids. Read it on your own. Just, read it. 

By Michael Chabon,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

From the Pulitzer Prize winning Michael Chabon comes this bestselling novel that blends fantasy and folklore with that most American coming-of-age ritual: baseball—now in a new edition, with an introduction by the author.

Ethan Feld is having a terrible summer: his father has moved them to Clam Island, Washington, where Ethan has quickly established himself as the least gifted baseball player the island has ever seen. Ethan’s luck begins to change, however, when a mysterious baseball scout named Ringfinger Brown and a seven-hundred-and-sixty-five-year-old werefox enter his life, dragging Ethan into another world called the Summerlands. But this beautiful, winter-less place…


Dominican Baseball

By Alan Klein,

Book cover of Dominican Baseball: New Pride, Old Prejudice

Gregg Bocketti Author Of The Invention of the Beautiful Game: Football and the Making of Modern Brazil

From the list on sports in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Who am I?

For almost thirty years, I have studied and tried to understand Latin America and the Caribbean. As a historian I have worked with manuscripts and newspapers and books, in archives and libraries and private collections, but I’ve learned my most important lessons elsewhere: on the baseball diamond in Holguín, Cuba, at pick-up cricket matches in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and in soccer stadiums in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, and Buenos Aires. These books help give us a sense of the power of such places, the power of sports to reveal the region, and as such they’re a great place to start to understand it. 

Gregg's book list on sports in Latin America and the Caribbean

Why did Gregg love this book?

In Dominican Baseball, Alan Klein continues his essential work to document the country’s relationship to American professional baseball. As he says, Major League teams have come to view the Dominican Republic as “a renewable resource” of baseball talent, a resource they not only consume but produce, through sophisticated recruitment strategies and the highly regimented academies many teams run in the country. Rather than offering easy answers, he shows that the system is one of American power, but also of Dominican agency, of local pride in Dominican success, but also of anxiety about the loss of national sovereignty. He thus provides an invaluable illustration of how Latin American sports help us understand the region’s position in the global commodity chain.

By Alan Klein,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Pedro Martinez. Sammy Sosa. Manny Ramirez. By 2000, Dominican baseball players were in every Major League clubhouse, and regularly winning every baseball award. In 2002, Omar Minaya became the first Dominican general manager of a Major League team. But how did this codependent relationship between MLB and Dominican talent arise and thrive?

In his incisive and engaging book, Dominican Baseball, Alan Klein examines the history of MLB's presence and influence in the Dominican Republic, the development of the booming industry and academies, and the dependence on Dominican player developers, known as buscones. He also addresses issues of identity fraud and…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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