I’ve been enjoying the trilogy by Kevin Kwan that starts with the book Crazy Rich Asians. I wanted to read them before seeing the new movie, and I’ve had a lot of fun doing so. They aren’t great literature. They aren’t full of redeeming philosophies. But they are entertaining. Reading them is a guilty pleasure!
What has intrigued me most—besides the lavish descriptions of houses, cars, meals, vacations, and designer clothing—is the book list in the second book, China Rich Girlfriend. In that novel, a woman named Kitty Pong, known for being a soap opera star who has married her way into wealth, is trying to rehabilitate her reputation. She wants to be accepted by high society in Singapore and Hong Kong, but the old families will not accept her. She hires a life coach to help her, and she is given a list of books to read in order to make her more acceptable, literary, and educated.
Here’s the list.
Snobs by Julian Fellowes
The Piano Teacher by Janice Y. K. Lee
People Like Us by Dominick Dunne
The Power of Style by Annette Tapert and Diana Edkins
Pride and Avarice by Nicholas Coleridge
The Soong Dynasty by Sterling Seagrave
Freedom by Jonathan Franzen
D. V. by Diana Vreeland
A Princess Remembers: The Memoirs of the Maharani of Jaipur by Gayatri Devi
The complete works of Jane Austen, starting with Pride and Prejudice (X)
The following Edith Wharton novels in order:
The Custom of the Country
The Age of Innocence (X)
The House of Mirth (X)
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (X)
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (X)
Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
Anthony Trollope’s Palliser series, starting with Can You Forgive Her?
I felt a bit like I haven’t done my own literary and style homework according to the Asian upper class, given that I’ve only read 5 of these! (I put an X next to the ones that I’ve read.)
Have you read any of these? Do you agree with this list?
I may have to read the rest of them to see if I can civilize myself!
I suppose that it one of the challenges with lists: you could count your self as “well read” by reading any of the conventional “Top (fill in the number)” lists. Yet your list may not have any intersection with the all the other lists.
The most comprehensive list of Western Literature I know is from Harold Bloom’s, “The Western Canon”. I know I would be hard pressed to complete a few hundred (out of probably 2,000+) in a lifetime.
Good point. Honestly, I get sick of people creating lists and telling me what to read. I like what I like and saying that I should like something because somebody put it on a list is starting to annoy me!
Exactly. I poopoo conformists. I haven’t met a genuinely happy conformist, ever, I don’t think.
It is more fun to be different!
I’ve read all of them from Jane Austen down except the Trollope Palliser series (although I’ve read a bunch of his Barsetshire series), but I haven’t read any from the top of the list, many of which seem to have to do with wealth and power. Hmmm.
Yeah, the top of the list was my weak spot as well. Maybe that’s a good thing!
I wonder what puts them on the list.
I love the covers of the Crazy Rich Asians books – very stylish!
Right? Those alone made me want to read (and instagram) them!
Fun fact: the movie poster contains the colors of pre-World War II Peranakan Singapore, namely the fuschia + teal combination which can still be seen in Singapore’s modern era, but from what I’m told the color combination isn’t as ubiquitous as it was say 90 years ago.
How interesting! I do love that color combination.
I’ve read Jane Austen, Anna Karenina and The Piano Teacher (which you might like – but I read it so long ago that it’s a little fuzzy). It must have been fun for the author to make this list. I wonder how he decided on these ones?
I ended up seeing the movie without reading the book. Oh well. One less book to read! It was very entertaining!
I guess you could still read it, but it might not matter. I am hoping to see the movie soon!
Great post and I loved it 💕
What do you think about the movie? Loved the books by the way.
I really liked the movie!