Reading Recommendations

This is a largely unordered list of reading recommendations separated into categories. Works may appear in multiple categories. In the future, I may write more descriptions and longer posts about the listed works.


Hunger of Memory

Amazing memoir describing Rodriguez’s experience growing up in a working-class immigrant household. While Rodriguez makes interesting arguments against bilingual education and affirmative action, I do not believe I agree with them and may address these points later. What hits closest to home for me are Rodriguez’s descriptions of family life and the damaging consequences of upward mobility.

The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us

Provides a detailed overview of the American education system from primary school all the way through college and beyond. In this book, we are exposed to the inequity throughout the educational system as well as effective and ineffective tactics for leveling the playing field. The book provides a spectacular fact-based argument against standardized testing (particularly the SAT) because of the extreme socioeconomic inequalities attached to the test.

Let America Be America

Langston Hughes poem describing the realities of modern life and the promise of a better America.

Asian American Achievement Paradox

This book changed my understanding for how to explain why Asian American as a whole have been so successful in America. Asian American success is neither purely the result of socioeconomic wealth nor essential cultural values, but rather a much more complex situation resulting from education-based immigration policies, ethnic institutions, and stereotype promise.


Pachinko encourages you to think big, to think about how your ancestors’ actions and experiences influence your life. America is not the only country with a racism problem. In this book, we see how Japanese racism against Koreans affect the lives of a family. We see how Koreans came to fill the niche of Pachinko businesses.


Sexual assault, hockey, and rural small town life intertwine in this beautiful story. I love Amat and his mother.

The Hate U Give

This is a Young Adult fiction book that encourages you to see yourself in the eyes of someone else and understand the struggles of a community.

Favorite quotes:

Williamson is one world and Garden Heights is another, and I have to keep them separate.

I could call Hailey and Maya, those girls Kenya claims don’t count as my friends. I guess I can see why she says that. I never invite them over. Why would I? They live in mini-mansions. My house is just mini.

I’ve seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down. Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.

Destiny of the Republic

My favorite history book. James Garfield was the best president who never got the chance to really be a president.

The Privileged Poor

Great for understanding how private schools help ‘poor’ (really anyone median income or below at this point) students succeed. Unfortunately, this book lacks many Asian American perspectives. Given research indicating how socioeconomic status is a far less reliable indicator of educational success among Asian Americans, I would be interested in learning more about the experiences of working-class Asian Americans compared to their more privileged counterparts and what differences may lie there.

The Changeling

A Harry Potter fan-fiction by Annerb, The Changeling is an amazing exploration into stereotypes and self-acceptance. The fanfic shows how even “good” people have prejudices and that our worldview can not consist of “careful columns of good versus Slytherin”. The Changeling has fundamentally shifted my views on the Harry Potter series and I firmly believe it should be treated as canon.

Born a Crime: Stories from as South African Childhood

Trevor Noah is an amazing storyteller. He makes intriguing observations about the role of language in gaining acceptance among groups.

Political Tribes: Group Instinct and the Fate of Nations

People are divided into tribes—ideological, racial, ethnic, sports teams—our identities and membership in these tribes shape our views. Amy Chua explores the consequences of not recognizing the powerful influence of these tribes in foreign policy and politics today.

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed

When is it right to be outraged on the internet and when have we taken it too far? Jon Ronson explores these questions through his interviews with experts and those who have been publicly shamed.

The Rape of Nanking

Iris Chang is my favorite Chinese American author. The Rape of Nanking is meticulously researched and sheds light on a historical event rarely focused on in the English-speaking world. Is it possible for there to be a “Good Nazi”? How can we reconcile this seeming oxymoron in John Rabe, the Nazi who saved hundreds of thousands of Chinese lives?

Race & Ethnicity


Born a Crime: Stories from as South African Childhood

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

America for Americans

Asian America

Chinese in America

The Making of Asian America

Asian American Achievement Paradox

Snow Falling on Cedars

Everything I Never Told You

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down


The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us

Moving Up Without Losing Your Way

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?

The Privileged Poor


I’m interested in hearing how much people identify with these characters. To me, I feel like they exaggerate the workload and difficulties they have in school, even though it provides an interesting perspective. In my view, I think the issues presented here are far more of a problem in Asian countries with far more dedicated ‘cram schools’ than in America. When I read this book, I get the impression that some teenagers are exaggerating the hardships they face in their lives.