• asianpacificamerican badge

18 Romance Books By Asian Authors That You Should Pick Up This Month

These are 100% worth reading!

A couple of years ago, I read Christina Lauren’s Josh and Hazel's Guide to Not Dating. A few chapters in, I was shocked to find that Josh’s last name was "Im." A Korean American hero in a popular, mainstream romance novel set in the contemporary US? Outside of Amy Tan’s The Joy Luck Club, I had never read about an East Asian main character in a fictional book that wasn’t focused on race or immigration or history. I set the book aside because the concept of someone like me as the romantic lead was too foreign and out of place. I was used to seeing Asians as the nerd, as the main character’s best friend, as the kung fu master — all of that seemed “normal." But not as a love interest.

Maybe that’s my fault for not actively seeking diverse books. Or maybe it is a sign that diversity in books isn’t prevalent enough for casual readers or even avid readers like me who hadn’t thought to search out diversity specifically.  

I eventually got over my surprise, loving how normal Lauren treated Josh, his family, and his relationship with Hazel. His race was simply part of the story — not performative, not ignored. It sounds ridiculous, but it gave me hope. It gave me hope when I wrote my debut book, Give Love a Chai, that my Chinese American female hero or my very Chinese-sounding name wouldn’t be a turnoff to readers. It gave me hope of seeing more characters like me at the center of stories, not as side characters; that people who looked like me or had experiences like mine could be worthy of stories.

In recent months, with the rise in hate crimes against Asians — whether driven by reactions to the coronavirus pandemic or by the normalization of open racism — it becomes extra important to be an ally. Being an ally can be as simple as checking on your Asian friends or reading a book written by an Asian author. 

Below, you'll find some books that you can try. 

1. The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

2. Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

3. A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

4. Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

5. The Governess Affair by Courtney Milan

6. From London With Love by Aviva Vaughn

7. The Dating Plan by Sara Desai

8. Level Up by Cathy Yardley

9. Serena Singh Flips the Script by Sonya Lalli

10. A Taste for Love by Jennifer Yen

11. The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

12. The Lotus Palace by Jeannie Lin

13. American Panda by Gloria Chao

14. Lord Lucifer by Jade Lee

15. The Chai Factor by Farah Heron

16. Boss I Love to Hate by Mia Kayla

17. Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto

18. Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

Bonus: Though these next two books don't fall into the romance category, they're certainly worth picking up.

19. Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan

20. Eyes That Kiss in the Corners by Joanna Ho, Illustrated by Dung Ho

Check out how BuzzFeed is celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month! And follow @buzzfeedapop on Instagram!