5 books to read after “Beautiful Country” by Qian Julie Wang


For the month of September, Jenna Bush Hager has selected “Beautiful Country” by Qian Julie Wang like her pick from the Read With Jenna book club.

Wang’s early memoirs tell the story of her life as an undocumented immigrant in New York’s Chinatown.

“’Beautiful Country’ was one of those remarkable books that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it,” Jenna said. “I love memoirs and especially love beautifully written memoirs that read almost like novels.”

If you liked “Beautiful Country” as much as Jenna did, the author has five book recommendations to read next.

“The glass castle”, by Jeanette Walls

Boasting over seven years on the New York Times bestseller list, Jeannette Walls’ compelling story of resilience and redemption comes highly recommended by fans of the Read With Jenna Book Club.

Walls tells the story of her life, growing up with a brilliant father who suffered from alcoholism, a free-spirited mother who stepped away from the responsibility of raising a family, and her three siblings who learned to take care of each other when their parents couldn’t.

The book is an honest and compelling look at a special yet loyal family. Walls’ gift for storytelling shines as she shares the intimate details of her unconventional upbringing.

“I know why the bird in a cage sings”, by Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou’s autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” tells the story of the first years of her life. She talks about the experience of bigotry, feeling lonely as a child and overcoming trauma. This beloved coming of age story has become an American classic.

“Angela’s Ashes”, by Frank McCourt

The Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Angela’s Ashes tells the story of Frank McCourt who grew up in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. He writes about the lingering poverty, famine and cruelty of his neighbors and loved ones as his mother struggles to keep her children alive. Despite the hardships, his writing is imbued with humor and forgiveness.

“The undocumented Americans”, by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

In her book, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio tells the stories of undocumented immigrants from all over the country. It highlights the people who worked to clean up Ground Zero after 9/11; Flint, Michigan, residents who did not have state IDs to receive clean drinking water, and many more, to shed light on what it means to live an undocumented life in America.

“On Earth, we are briefly beautiful”, by Ocean Vuong

In this semi-autographic novel, Ocean Vuong writes a letter from an American narrator of Vietnamese descent to his mother, who cannot read. He writes on the themes of race, class, sexuality and gender with brutal honesty. The book reads almost like a poem as Vuong shares moments, ideas and memories in snippets throughout the novel.

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