Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “How to American: An Immigrant's Guide to Disappointing Your Parents” as Want to Read:
How to American: An Immigrant's Guide to Disappointing Your Parents
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

How to American: An Immigrant's Guide to Disappointing Your Parents

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  4,695 ratings  ·  555 reviews
Standup comic, actor and fan favorite from HBO's Silicon Valley and the film Crazy Rich Asians shares his memoir of growing up as a Chinese immigrant in California and making it in Hollywood.

"I turned down a job in finance to pursue a career in stand-up comedy. My dad thought I was crazy. But I figured it was better to disappoint my parents for a few years than to disappo
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published March 13th 2018 by Da Capo Press
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about How to American, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Alex Shrugged It depends on the high school. The F-word is used enthusiastically. Homosexual prostitution is implied. He talks about wanting to have sex with stripp…moreIt depends on the high school. The F-word is used enthusiastically. Homosexual prostitution is implied. He talks about wanting to have sex with strippers. He worked for a gangster, and he took drugs... mostly marijuana, but also cocaine and meth when he was misled by strangers. (I'm not sure I believe that, but OK.) In his favor, he does not glorify any of these things. He did pursue the job as a DJ for a stripper joint, but even that turned out badly. Thus it was not glorified but revealed to be a dead end. Your choice, of course.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.99  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,695 ratings  ·  555 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of How to American: An Immigrant's Guide to Disappointing Your Parents
Carol (Bookaria)
Nov 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2018
This book was nominated on the 2018 Goodreads Choice Awards’ Nonfiction category and seeing it listed there was enough reason for me to pick it up and read it.

I didn’t know who Jimmy O. Yang was but my husband saw the cover of the audiobook and told me he was Jian Yang from HBO’s Silicon Valley, he seemed overly excited that I was reading this book since that is one of his favorite shows.

The author describes his experience emigrating from Hong Kong and into America as well as his career as a com
Valerity (Val)
I was pleasantly surprised by this book, it was funny and smart and ended before I was ready to be finished with it. I found myself enjoying it a lot more than I expected to, as I'd never heard of Jimmy O. Yang, or seen anything he's been in prior to getting it.

Lucky for me, it turned out to be a good experience. After reading the foreword by Mike Judge, I learned that Jimmy was born in Hong Kong and moved to the US just before starting high school. He learned English by watching BET, the Black
Sep 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: memoir
This was a quick, entertaining read. Loved the cringe-worthy pictures included in here. The book delivered exactly what was promised. I do wonder *who* this book is for. It's poised as a how-to guide for disappointing your parents, but if you're an immigrant, you probably already have a phd on that subject. ...more
Wing Kee
Apr 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't review nonfiction a lot so I'll need to forgo my normal structure and just give you my thoughts.

I enjoyed the book, O.Yang has a unique voice and his story is one that is familiar to a lot of success stories in Hollywood (eating ramen, barely getting by). But because he's Chinese and he came from where I came from I understood it a bit more of the drive that he had and the trails and tribulations he had to get where he is today. It's an interesting read for me.

I will be honest and say th
Brian's Book Blog
Hilarious But Also Full Of Interesting Stories

4.5 out of 5 stars

I didn’t realize just how much I was going to enjoy this book until I was in tears from laughing on my way into work. I listen to audiobooks in my car and this was absolutely hilarious. So funny (especially the chapter about working with T.J. Miller) that I think people thought I was crazy in my car.

Jimmy O. Yang – better known as Jian Yang on the hit tv-show Silicon Valley came to America as a young child. He spent his early childh
Mar 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is absolutely hilarious. Pretty much reminds me of my Asian friends. His experiences in LA are actually pretty crazy. Great point of the book is to never give up. I need to catch up on Silicon Valley.
Jun 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jimmy has navigated a lot of interesting experiences and I'm pleased for his success. Not just in this book, but in his life, he needs to reconsider his frame of reference for every interaction he's had with female human beings. Throughout his narrative we are solely mentioned as hot or not, and how his supposed inability to "score" us somehow relates to his status as a comedian, an Asian immigrant, or with himself. It's a sad, creepy undercurrent to an otherwise charming book. I'm still torn be ...more
There's much to relate to here, although Yang's phenomenal success seems to eclipse the dreams of even the most ambitious day-dreaming Chinese tragic entrapped in the accounting job their parents made them sign up for. Yang's success hasn't been overnight, but his tenacity and dogged determination underwrites much of his triumphs.

I did like how he pointed out that Asian accents tend to seen as cringeworthy, rather than, say, charged with the sex appeal of a French or Irish lilt. Too true.

The o
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you like standup, if you relish learning about how foreign ethnic backgrounds manifest in American society and if you’re a fan of Silicon Valley (HBO), then you’re like me. And if you’re like me, you’re gonna love this book.
The audiobook made me cry with laughter while driving, on a bus commute (must have looked weird) and the ending moved me so much that I almost had tears in my eyes again. No, no spoilers. Just greetings to Jimmy’s father.
Siobhan Ward
Aug 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book wasn't something I'd planned on reading, since other than a small part in Crazy Rich Asians , I'd never seen Jimmy O Yang in anything. However, since it was easily on-hand and my friends had been enjoying it so much, I figured I might as well read it.

This was such a fun and sweet read. It's a great story of immigration and coming to terms with new identities. I loved Yang's sense of humour throughout, but also how genuine he was. This was a sweet book where I found myself totally enra
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book written by Jimmy O. Yang who is a standup comedian, film and TV actor and fan favorite as the character Jian Yang from the popular HBO series Silicon Valley (although I'm not familiar with the show).
Yang shares his story of growing up as a Chinese immigrant who pursued a Hollywood career to the strong dismay of his parents: Yang arrived in Los Angeles from Hong Kong at age 13, learned English by watching BET RapCity for three hours a day (which in itself is hysteric
Mar 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
I picked this up because I love the author's character on Silicon Valley and I was interested to know more about him. I also enjoy memoirs about the immigrant experience and thought this would be an interesting take. This definitely did not disappoint! It was a quick and enjoyable read that feels genuine. This was smart and funny and I would 100% recommend it!

Thanks to Netgalley for the advanced copy!
May 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I enjoyed reading most about his return visit to Hong Kong, his personal reflections on identity and belonging. Even tempered with self-deprecation, the rest is a little bit too in the belly of noxious standards of success and masculinity. I would be like his father, though, and have an unspoken devotion and respect—explicit expression of love and pride always comes across as too-American obsessions.
Dec 18, 2018 rated it liked it
I may have enjoyed this book even more if I actually knew who the author was or the shows he has appeared on.
Just the same I found the self-deprecating humor to be cute at times.
Jun 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
I don't watch Silicon Valley and didn't know who Jimmy Yang was, but I love immigrant memoirs. The book is funny and light. It's a little sexist (a lot of his career was in a strip club), but it's also touching. I want more stories just like this and I hope Jimmy keeps opening up about what it's like to be an Asian immigrant ...more
Maya Osseiran
Jun 12, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Such a hilarious and sweet read. Jimmy Yang is so thoughtful and genuine as he describes his immigration experience and figuring out his identity. This book is filled with wonderful and sweet stories. I eat the fish ♥️
Yasu Hotta
One big humblebrag. Maybe memoirs of successful young people are supposed to be that way. Funny and easy reading, probably yes. Not a big fan of this book.
Becca Noggle
Nov 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved it! Probably more like a 4.5 rating. So fun. I loved him in Silicon Valley and was curious about his book. It was better than I expected - cute and funny. Go Jian Yang!
Julie Harding
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good, funny, and readable. Not extremely well-written, but enjoyable and light. An excellent account of what an immigrant goes through in our land of opportunity.
Mitchell Keo
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hilarious and heartfelt quick read. Being Asian is pretty tight.
Sofia The Great
Feb 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a fun audiobook. Really enjoyed it.
Sep 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio-books
Oh my gosh, this book is laugh-out-loud funny, and also very poignant. And inspiring – Jimmy O. Yang believes in the American dream, because he has lived it. And the audio book is highly recommended – he's a stand-up comedian/actor, and even if he wasn't, it's always preferable to have an author read his own book. However, warning – parts of the book are definitely R/X-rated. (Jimmy seems like a nice, basically normal guy, but, for example, one of his jobs before making it big in Hollywood was a ...more
Ning Yan
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a pleasant listen. The audiobook was read by Jimmy himself, in which he nailed the narratives with different accents and excellent mimicking of different characters.

I purchased this audiobook after watching his standup show live in San Francisco. He is hilarious and witty in person, and you got to learn more about his childhood and how he struggled to get the recurring role in Silicon Valley from this book. It is not unfamiliar to hear how young actors and actresses are auditioning tirel
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it
I have never been one to take an interest in the lives and adventures of celebrities, and to be honest, I'd never heard of Jimmy O. Yang until I came across this book on Goodreads. But the subhead, An Immigrant's Guide to Disappointing Your Parents was worth a laugh: as an Asian American, this has been an ongoing theme in my own life. Yang's "voice" really came through. There was a delightful naivete in his big dreams and a heartfelt expression of love for his family, his friends, and his adopte ...more
Oct 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
On its face, How to American appears to exist solely for the purpose of entertainment, the musings of a stand-up comedian with an association with Mike Judge's show Silicon Valley. What's remarkable, however, is that the book morphs into something much more insightful and meaningful as you go along. Learning about Jimmy's experience coming to America and his attempt to live the American dream as he imagines it, you get a new, valuable perspective as well as a reminder of what's truly important i ...more
Ms. McGregor
Listened to half. Some interesting anecdotes and point of view as an entertainer who immigrated as a teen from China, but I couldn’t stand the way he talks about women. I finally tapped out after, “I didn’t think it was possible to be friend-zoned by a stripper...” but I thought about it several times before that.
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Love to read about celebs before they get where they are. This book seemed genuine. If your ready to just laugh out loud,this is it!

Thanks to author, publisher and NetGalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.
Boldkhuu Batbaatar
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Following your dream is how you become homeless. That is exactly most Asian people /us/ think. This book is about how Jimmy, ordinary Asian guy, stood against this perspective and pursued his dream. This book is about how he crossed every line of his wish list. Plus, it's hilarious ;) ...more
Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Funny and HELLA relatable. There were some parts that I could have done without but in the end, I felt that feeling of kinship that people with Asian parents in America understand. I have MAD respect for Jimmy O. Yang. The dude has sauce.

Also, his narration was fantastic.
Hanson Ho
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
4 stars just because Jimmy O. Yang is the only comic or actor I know who immigrated from HK to North America as a child.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Fresh Off the Boat
  • Double Cup Love
  • Dear Girls: Intimate Tales, Untold Secrets, & Advice for Living Your Best Life
  • Eat a Peach
  • Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning
  • Yearbook
  • A Very Punchable Face
  • Interior Chinatown
  • Mixed Plate: Chronicles of an All-American Combo
  • Crying in H Mart
  • Please Don't Sit on My Bed in Your Outside Clothes: Essays
  • Sigh, Gone: A Misfit's Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In
  • Charlemagne's Tablecloth: A Piquant History of Feasting
  • 爱你就像爱生命
  • The Myth of the Self-Made Man
  • The Novelist's Rake
  • Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote
  • Girl Walks Into a Bar...: Comedy Calamities, Dating Disasters, and a Midlife Miracle
See similar books…
See top shelves…

Related Articles

Anne Lamott, the beloved writer of memoirs including Bird by Bird and Traveling Mercies, once said, “You own everything that happened to you....
63 likes · 22 comments
“I take pride in playing immigrant characters. I've come across people who had a negative opinion about playing Asian characters that have an accent. I've even met Asian actors who won't audition for a role that has an Asian accent. They believe these accented characters reinforce the stereotype of an Asian being the constant foreigner. Frankly, I can't relate. I was an immigrant. And no matter how Americanized I become, no matter how much Jay-Z I listen to, I'll always be an immigrant. Just because I don't speak English with an accent anymore doesn't mean that I'm better than the people who do. My job as an actor is not to judge anyone and to portray a character with humanity. There are real people with real Asian accents in the real world. I used to be one of them. And I'm damn proud of it.” 5 likes
“From eating at El Pollo Loco salsa bar to the Golden Globes buffet, I managed to stumble through this journey with the perseverance of an immigrant and the mindset of an American. I learned to thrive on being uncomfortable to pursue what I loved. The English language was uncomfortable, so I studied BET until it became my natural tongue. Doing stand-up was uncomfortable, so I hung out at the Comedy Palace until it became my second home. Auditions were uncomfortable, so I spent six hundred bucks a month on acting classes while I slept in some dude's living room for three hundred bucks until acting became my profession. I never looked at these challenges as barriers; I saw them as opportunities to grow. I'd rather try to pursue my dream knowing that I might fail miserably than to have never tried at all. That is How to American.” 4 likes
More quotes…