Experts > Ken Liu

Ken Liu's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Ken Liu recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Ken Liu's favorite book recommendations of all time.

A blockbuster, near-future science fiction thriller, S.L. Huang's Zero Sum Game introduces a math-genius mercenary who finds herself being manipulated by someone possessing unimaginable power

Cas Russell is good at math. Scary good. The vector calculus blazing through her head lets her smash through armed men twice her size and dodge every bullet in a gunfight, and she'll take any job for the right price.

As far as Cas knows, she’s the only person around with a superpower...until she discovers someone with a power even more dangerous than her own. Someone...
Recommended by Ken Liu, and 1 others.

Ken LiuZero Sum Game has an action hero whose superpower is math. The hero is an expert in mathematics, and has the ability to see the math behind everyday things, and she uses that to perform superhuman feats. It’s fresh, it’s exciting, it’s fun, and it’s so moving. (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...


A Song for a New Day

In this captivating science fiction novel from an award-winning author, public gatherings are illegal making concerts impossible, except for those willing to break the law for the love of music, and for one chance at human connection.

In the Before, when the government didn't prohibit large public gatherings, Luce Cannon was on top of the world. One of her songs had just taken off and she was on her way to becoming a star. Now, in the After, terror attacks and deadly viruses have led the government to ban concerts, and Luce's connection to the world--her music, her...
Recommended by Ken Liu, and 1 others.

Ken LiuThe novel is in the subgenre of post-apocalyptic fiction, and imagines a world in which a plague has caused all of us to become isolated. Everyone is living like a hermit, working from home, eating at home, studying at home, and there are no large-scale gatherings anymore. So, the very visceral experience of going to a live concert, of that connection between the performer and the audience, of... (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...


United States of Japan

Decades ago, Japan won the Second World War. Americans worship their infallible Emperor, and nobody believes that Japan’s conduct in the war was anything but exemplary. Nobody, that is, except the George Washingtons – a shadowy group of rebels fighting for freedom. Their latest subversive tactic is to distribute an illegal video game that asks players to imagine what the world might be like if the United States had won the war instead.
Captain Beniko Ishimura's job is to censor video games, and he's working with Agent Akiko Tsukino of the secret police to get to the bottom of...
Recommended by Ken Liu, and 1 others.

Ken LiuIt’s an alternate history in which the Axis powers won World War II, and Japan has conquered parts of the United States. And it’s a book in which there are giant mechas, and there are references to gaming culture, a lot of nerdy, geeky references that we love to see in science fiction. (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...


Riot Baby

"Riot Baby bursts at the seams of story with so much fire, passion and power that in the end it turns what we call a narrative into something different altogether."—Marlon James

Rooted in foundational loss and the hope that can live in anger, Riot Baby is both a global dystopian narrative an intimate family story with quietly devastating things to say about love, fury, and the black American experience.

Ella and Kev are brother and sister, both gifted with extraordinary power. Their childhoods are defined and destroyed by structural racism and...
Recommended by Ken Liu, and 1 others.

Ken LiuSuch a powerful, powerful book. It is amazing. It is, in some ways, a superhero story that literalizes power, and powerlessness, and anger, and allows us to understand and view racial injustice in America in a way that I think few works have been able to do for me, at an emotional level. (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...


This Is How You Lose the Time War

Two time-traveling agents from warring futures, working their way through the past, begin to exchange letters—and fall in love in this thrilling and romantic book from award-winning authors Amal-El Mohtar and Max Gladstone.

Among the ashes of a dying world, an agent of the Commandant finds a letter. It reads: Burn before reading.

Thus begins an unlikely correspondence between two rival agents hellbent on securing the best possible future for their warring factions. Now, what began as a taunt, a battlefield boast, grows into something more. Something epic....
Recommended by Ezra Klein, Ken Liu, and 2 others.

Ezra KleinThis book is amazing and if you haven't read it you should. (Source)

Ken LiuI suppose you could call it a time travel story. It takes place across all history, and features two protagonists, two women who are essentially spies—saboteurs for rival visions of the future, who are trying to twist the timeline to lead to their respective faction’s visions. But then they fall in love with each other. The story is incredibly beautiful and moving, and the language is so poetic. (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...

Don't have time to read Ken Liu's favorite books? Read Shortform summaries.

Shortform summaries help you learn 10x faster by:

  • Being comprehensive: you learn the most important points in the book
  • Cutting out the fluff: you focus your time on what's important to know
  • Interactive exercises: apply the book's ideas to your own life with our educators' guidance.