Good Minds Suggest: Kevin Kwan's Favorite Books for Social Climbers

Posted by Goodreads on April 24, 2017

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As a descendant of one of Singapore's founding families, author Kevin Kwan knew exactly how he wanted to portray the characters in his first novel, Crazy Rich Asians. That bestseller and its sequel, China Rich Girlfriend, have given readers a satirical insider peek into the secrets and scandals of Asia's most privileged families.

His new novel, Rich People Problems, is the conclusion to the trilogy, where the heir to one of Asia's greatest fortunes is locked out of his inheritance, an ex-wife is driven psychotic with jealousy, and battle royales between social climbing beauties are fought through couture gown sabotage.

For those of you who don't have the heart to desecrate million-dollar dresses, Kwan shares his best books for social climbers:

The Custom of the Country by Edith Wharton
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"Undine Spragg, the heroine of this novel, is the ultimate social climber, and I don't think any other character in literary history comes close to her. She is like the Energizer Bunny of social climbers—she keeps going and going, and this book is a testament to what a genius Wharton was at capturing American high society. It's absolutely timeless, and even though the story is set in 1913, it shows that things haven't changed one bit over a century later."

People Like Us by Dominick Dunne
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"This is required reading for anyone who wants to understand New York society. It's devastating, hilarious, razor-sharp social satire at its best, and the circus of characters who populate this novel are thinly veiled caricatures of Manhattan's ruling class. I have no idea how Dunne wrote what he did and still got invited to the best parties."

Snobs by Julian Fellowes
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"Julian Fellowes is the undisputed king when it comes to chronicling Britain's aristocratic set. It's about a middle class girl who marries the son of a marquess and all the land mines she sets off as she tries to survive in this rarified world. Snobs so brilliantly captures the mores of English society, and it's such delicious fun—one of my all-time favorites that I reread once a year."

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin
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"Daisy Goodwin's novel, about an American heiress during the Gilded Age who heads to England to marry her way into a title, is a cleverly told twist on the story of Consuelo Vanderbilt, who famously was forced into a marriage to the Duke of Marlborough by her social mountaineering mother. It's a lusciously evocative cautionary tale."

The Windfall by Diksha Basu
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"This debut novel chronicles a recently rich Indian family [who is] trying to penetrate Delhi's upper crust, and I just laughed my way through it. It's wickedly smart and really shows how the world's wealthy are basically all the same. Everyone, no matter how high up the social ladder, always feels like there's another rung to climb."

Want more book recommendations from authors? Check out our Good Minds Suggest series.

Comments Showing 1-5 of 5 (5 new)

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message 1: by Nenda (new)

Nenda Hi Kevin, thank you for your suggestions. I'm a huge fan of your work, in fact I made a whole Kitty Pong Reading List from China Rich Girlfriend here ( I hope I can read Rich People Problem, ASAP. I already pre-ordered it. I hope 23 May 2017 can come soon enough.

Thank you.

message 2: by Randee (new)

Randee Loved Crazy Rich Asians and am anxious to read China Rich Girlfriend and now, your new one, Rich People Problems. I am not a social climber myself, but it is fun to read about them. Your narrative and descriptions of Singapore were so precise, I felt I was there with your characters. I wish you continued success with writing and will continue reading your work. Thank you~

message 3: by Abby (new)

Abby Hi Kevin, I love your work and just finished an ARC of Rich People Problems. It's the best one yet!

message 4: by Réýan (new)

Réýan RèÝäñ Best idea

message 5: by Hungnhon (new)

Hungnhon Huong dan tai messenger mien phi ve dien thoai

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