The best books on Korean Americans 📚

Browse the best books on Korean Americans as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of This Burns My Heart

This Burns My Heart

By Samuel Park

Why this book?

This book will capture you with a heroine who is both irresistible and flawed, and will engross you with increasing twists in a triangle of love and sacrifice. The story explores how a fateful choice colors a decade of marriage, and challenges a young woman’s ambition already constrained by traditional Korean culture. Sam Park paints all the flavors of post-war Korea in this vivid debut, and his understanding and expression of the human heart is universal.

From the list:

The best historical fiction set in Korea by Korean American authors

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Book cover of Sunday Funday in Koreatown

Sunday Funday in Koreatown

By Aram Kim

Why this book?

Growing up as a first-generation Korean American my heart ached with love to read this book. It truly celebrates Korean culture and its ties to family. Kim portrays our young protagonist Yoomi, a black and white cat experiencing something everyone has gone through—a bad day while highlighting some of the warmth and joyful things about Korean culture, my favorite topic being food. The end cap of the book features a recipe for kimbap. I love that she does this because growing up my mother would pack me kimbap for lunch and kids would immediately peg it as sushi. Little me…

From the list:

The best books I wish existed when I was a kid

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Book cover of Finding Junie Kim

Finding Junie Kim

By Ellen Oh

Why this book?

An intergenerational story about a young girl, Junie Kim, who finds the strength to face up to the bullying and racism in school thanks to the stories shared by her grandparents is heartbreaking and inspiring. 

Though this story is set in North America, the flashbacks to Korea during the war between the North and South are chilling and authentic.  

It was fascinating to read about the Korean War and the struggles of the masses as they tried to escape to the West in search of a better life for themselves and their families. It also gave me a sense of…

From the list:

The best children's books to travel the world without leaving home

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Book cover of Stand Up, Yumi Chung!

Stand Up, Yumi Chung!

By Jessica Kim

Why this book?

Yumi is a girl trying to both please her Korean parents and live her own dream – that of attending comedy camp and becoming a stand-up comedian. I thought it was a fresh and funny take on the balancing act that many children of immigrants feel they must undertake. It made me think of the unspoken pressure I felt to study Science at university and how years later I was finally able to go back and study what interested me (creative writing!).

From the list:

The best middle-grade books featuring Asian-American/Canadian kids by Asian-American/Canadian authors

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Book cover of Your House Will Pay

Your House Will Pay

By Steph Cha

Why this book?

Is there any subject more complex, fraught, and important as race in America? And perhaps nothing is more challenging to write about, riskier, presenting nearly unlimited opportunities for disagreement, which seems to get more and more passionate, more and more polarized, every day. This remarkable novel by Steph Cha unflinchingly tackles the subject head-on in Los Angeles—the city of the Rodney King beating as background, and the city of today as foreground—through the lens of a multigenerational entanglement of a Korean American family with an African American one, defying the simplistic and reductionist tendencies of so much writing about race.

From the list:

The best suspense novels that are actually about something bigger

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Book cover of Good Enough

Good Enough

By Paula Yoo

Why this book?

I found this book when I was in high school – it was the first story I had ever read that was by and about an Asian person. Patti is desperately trying to abide by her parents’ rules and get into an Ivy League school, despite her Juilliard dreams. One of the first books of its kind, and a story that still rings true today. 

From the list:

The best children’s and teen novels that perfectly capture Asian American identity

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