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Ranking Author Amy Tan’s Best Books (A Bibliography Countdown)

“What are Amy Tan’s Best Books?” We looked at all of Tan’s authored bibliography and ranked them against one another to answer that very question!

We took all of the books written by Amy Tan and looked at their Goodreads, Amazon, and LibraryThing scores, ranking them against one another to see which books came out on top. The books are ranked in our list below based on which titles have the highest overall score between all 3 review sites in comparison with all of the other books by the same author. The process isn’t super scientific and in reality, most books aren’t “better” than other books as much as they are just different. That being said, we do enjoy seeing where our favorites landed, and if you aren’t familiar with the author at all, the rankings can help you see what books might be best to start with.

The full ranking chart is also included below the countdown on the bottom of the page.

Happy Scrolling!

The Top Book’s Of Amy Tan

15 ) The Memory of Desire

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 14
  • Amazon: 15
  • LibraryThing: 12

14 ) Rules for Virgins

	Rules for Virgins

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 13
  • Amazon: 14
  • LibraryThing: 12

There is no room for error, however: erotic power is hard to achieve and harder to maintain, especially in the loftiest social circles. Enter veteran seducer, Magic Gourd, formerly one of Shanghai’s “Top Ten Beauties” and now the advisor and attendant of Violet, an aspiring but inexperienced courtesan. Violet may have the youth and the allure, but Magic Gourd has the cunning and the knowledge without which the younger woman is sure to fail. These ancient tricks of the trade aren’t written down, though; to pass them on to her student, Magic Gourd must reach back into her own professional past, bringing her lessons alive with stories and anecdotes from a career spent charming and manipulating men who should have known better but rarely did. The world of sexual intrigue that Tan reveals in “Rules for Virgins” actually existed once, and she spares no detail in recreating it. But this story is more than intriguing (and sometimes shocking) historical literary fiction.

13 ) Saving Fish from Drowning

	Saving Fish from Drowning

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 12
  • Amazon: 13
  • LibraryThing: 9

On an ill-fated art expedition into the southern Shan state of Burma, eleven Americans leave their Floating Island Resort for a Christmas-morning tour-and disappear. Through twists of fate, curses, and just plain human error, they find themselves deep in the jungle, where they encounter a tribe awaiting the return of the leader and the mythical book of wisdom that will protect them from the ravages and destruction of the Myanmar military regime. Saving Fish from Drowning seduces the reader with a facade of Buddhist illusions, magician’s tricks, and light comedy, even as the absurd and picaresque spiral into a gripping morality tale about the consequences of intentions-both good and bad-and about the shared responsibility that individuals must accept for the actions of others.

12 ) Where the Past Begins

	Where the Past Begins

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 11
  • Amazon: 12
  • LibraryThing: 8

In Where the Past Begins, best-selling author of The Joy Luck Club and The Valley of Amazement Amy Tan is at her most intimate in revealing the truths and inspirations that underlie her extraordinary fiction. By delving into vivid memories of her traumatic childhood, confessions of self-doubt in her journals, and heartbreaking letters to and from her mother, she gives evidence to all that made it both unlikely and inevitable that she would become a writer. Through spontaneous storytelling, she shows how a fluid fictional state of mind unleashed near-forgotten memories that became the emotional nucleus of her stories. Tan explores shocking truths uncovered by family memorabilia – the real reason behind an IQ test she took at age six, why her parents lied about their education, mysteries surrounding her maternal grandmother – and, for the first time publicly, writes about her complex relationship with her father, who died when she was 15. Supplied with candour and characteristic humour, Where the Past Begins takes listeners into the idiosyncratic workings of her writer’s mind, a journey that explores memory, imagination, and truth, with fiction serving as both her divining rod and link to meaning.

11 ) Valley of Amazement

	Valley of Amazement

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 10
  • Amazon: 11
  • LibraryThing: 7

Violet Minturn is the privileged daughter of the American madam of the city’s most exclusive courtesan house. But when the Ching dynasty is overturned, Violet is separated from her mother in a cruel act of chicanery and forced to become a “virgin courtesan.” Half-Chinese and half-American, Violet grapples with her place in the worlds of East and West – until she is able to merge her two halves, empowering her to become a shrewd courtesan who excels in the business of seduction and illusion, though she still struggles to understand who she is. Back in 1897 San Francisco, Violet’s mother, Lucia, chooses a disastrous course as a sixteen-year-old, when her infatuation with a Chinese painter compels her to leave her home for Shanghai. Shocked by her lover’s adherence to Chinese traditions, she is unable to change him, despite her unending American ingenuity. Fueled by betrayals, both women refuse to submit to fate and societal expectations, persisting in their quests to recover what was taken from them: respect; a secure future; and, most poignantly, love from their parents, lovers, and children. To reclaim their lives, they take separate journeys – to a backwater hamlet in China, the wealthy environs of the Hudson River Valley, and, ultimately, the unknown areas of their hearts, where they discover what remains after their many failings to love and be loved. Spanning more than forty years and two continents.

10 ) The Kitchen God’s Wife

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 14
  • Amazon: 7
  • LibraryThing: 3

Focusing on the life of one woman, this book spans the years from pre-Revolutionary China to present day America. It covers the themes of cultural differences, the problems of exile, the generation gap and above all the special relationship between mothers and daughters.

9 ) The Opposite of Fate

	The Opposite of Fate

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 7
  • Amazon: 4
  • LibraryThing: 12

A personal account of life as seen through the eyes of one of America’s best-loved novelists. Over the course of her writing life, Amy Tan’s essays and articles have appeared in numerous magazines, journals and anthologies, much to the delight of her fans. Here she has put together her musings on what she sees as the opposites of fate. This work should illuminate her fiction and give her readers a rare glimpse into her heart and mind. Born into a family that believed in fate, Tan has always looked for ways to make sense of the world – other than the excuse of destiny. From retelling the tales of her ancestors, to redecorating her house, and from seeing ghosts to strapping on skis, her narrative journey reflects on fate’s opposites – lucky accidents, choice, memory – as well as on the comfort of accepting her past.

8 ) Hard Listening

	Hard Listening

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 1
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 12

In 1992, a cadre of the world’s best selling authors formed a garage band called the Rock Bottom Remainders. For two decades the band played proudly (and terribly) to sold-out crowds across the country and raised more than $2 million dollars for charity. Hard Listening: The Greatest Rock Band Ever (of Authors) Tells All is a collective book by Stephen King, Scott Turow, Mitch Albom, Amy Tan, Matt Groening, Dave Barry, Roy Blount Jr., James McBride, Ridley Pearson, Greg Iles, Ted Habte-Gabr, Sam Barry, and Roger McGuinn. These renowned authors share the behind-the-scenes, uncensored story of their two decades of friendship, love, writing, and the redemptive power of rock’n’roll. Includes stories, musings, group email exchanges, candid conversations, compromising photographs, and a writing contest in which several of the authors (including Stephen King) wrote a short story in King’s style. Readers get to guess which is the real thing

7 ) Mid-Life Confidential

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 9
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 11

Presents a wacky chronicle of a road trip with some of America’s most popular writers–including Stephen King, Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver, and Dave Barry–who leave their jobs to hit the road–on a bus–as a performing rock and roll band.

6 ) The Moon Lady

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 5
  • Amazon: 9
  • LibraryThing: 6

Adapted from Tan’s best seller The Joy Luck Club. Three sisters listen to their grandmother recount a mesmerizing childhood memory on a rainy afternoon. The long, complex story, filled with danger and excitement, relates what happened when Ying-ying was seven and celebrating the Moon Festival in China. On that long-ago night of the Moon Festival, she encountered the Moon Lady, who grants the secret wishes of those who ask.

5 ) Mother


Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 6
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 10

4 ) The Hundred Secret Senses

	The Hundred Secret Senses

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 3
  • Amazon: 8
  • LibraryThing: 4

A series of family secrets are unfolded that question the connections between chance and fate, beliefs and hopes, memory and imagination and the natural gifts of our 100 secret senses.

3 ) The Joy Luck Club

	The Joy Luck Club

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 8
  • Amazon: 4
  • LibraryThing: 2

A first novel which became a major US film. From the wealthy homes of pre-Revolutionary China to downtown San Francisco, this is the story of four mothers and their first-generation Chinese-American daughters; two generations of women struggling to come to terms with their cultural identity.

2 ) The Bonesetter’s Daughter

	The Bonesetter's Daughter

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 4
  • Amazon: 4
  • LibraryThing: 5

Amy Tan’s books tell us about tortuous lives of an older generation of women whose fate has brought them from China to the US, and also those of their culturally-confused, American-born daughters. In this novel, Tan takes this theme once again.

1 ) The Chinese Siamese Cat

Review Website Ranks:

  • Goodreads: 2
  • Amazon: 1
  • LibraryThing: 1

In ancient China, there lived cats that looked like Siamese cats, without the dark markings, until a naughty kitten, Sagwa, tangles with a Foolish Magistrate, falls into an inkpot, and gives Siamese cats their unique coloring.

Amy Tan’s Best Books

Amy Tan Review Website Bibliography Rankings

BookGoodreadsAmazonLibraryThingOveral Rank
The Chinese Siamese Cat 2 1 1 1
The Bonesetter’s Daughter 4 4 5 2
The Joy Luck Club 8 4 2 3
The Hundred Secret Senses 3 8 4 4
Mother 6 1 10 5
The Moon Lady 5 9 6 6
Mid-Life Confidential 9 1 11 7
Hard Listening 1 9 12 8
The Opposite of Fate 7 4 12 9
The Kitchen God’s Wife 14 7 3 10
Valley of Amazement 10 11 7 11
Where the Past Begins 11 12 8 12
Saving Fish from Drowning 12 13 9 13
Rules for Virgins 13 14 12 14
The Memory of Desire 14 15 12 15