A List of Stories

  1. Live-Action Movies
  2. Animated Movies
  3. Science Fictions
  4. Mystery or Suspense Fictions
  5. Historical Novels
  6. Manga

Live-Action Movies

  • The Matrix TRILOGY: The philosophy is far beyond the story itself. It doesn’t matter if we are really in a simulacrum, the society and environment we grow up is conceptually the Matrix, and we decide on taking whether the red or blue pill. The story also brings up the existence question of the free will.
  • Let the Bullets Fly (让子弹飞): If you are familiar with Chinese history, you would be impressed that every frame of the movie and every sentence of lines is so carefully crafted. It makes us think about inequality, ignorance, and revolutions, and reminds us of the tale where the dragon slayer will eventually become an evil dragon.
  • Parasite (寄生蟲): A Korean tragedy where no one is totally innocent yet on one is to blame. It subtly depicts the social class division by the contrast of reactions and psychology. The story can be seen as an allegory for the colonialism that is inherent to capitalistic growth.
  • Fight Club: A cool and violent story of a nobody with dual personality, pushing us to question the meaning of our routine lives. One universal theme of the movie is the search for the identity.
  • Mulholland Drive: The movie that best matches my taste of suspense stories. It could be seen as a visual elaboration of Sigmund Freud’s dream theory.
  • Inception: A typical American business story with a perfect fusion of logical dream-in-dream-in-dreams, familiy bonds, and action scenes. The idea that you can implement an impossible labyrinthian architecture in dreams is fascinating.

Animated Movies

  • Paprika (パプリカ): The wildest, vividest and eeriest dreams I have seen on screen. The director Satoshi Kon (今 敏) is an indisputable genius in the animation industry, who died of cancer in 2010. I feel that no other movie can match Paprika in exploiting the expressive power of animation.
  • Millenium Actress (千年女優): Another masterpiece of Satoshi Kon (今 敏), a romantic story blending reality, recollections, and rehearsals. The theme of the movie is not limited to the pursuit of love, but also the pursuit of one’s dream or ambition or art.
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカ): One of the early works of Hayao Miyazaki (宮﨑駿). Nausicaä is my favorite fictional character. The movie brings up the question, whether humans and nature can survive together in peace, while the manga contains more philosophical thoughts, e.g. Lives should not be manipulated.
  • Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し): A warm growing-up story of Chihiro, a ten-year-old girl who accidentally adventures in the spiritual world of Kami. This is perhaps the most well-known movie of Hayao Miyazaki (宮﨑駿), perfect in all aspects of story-telling.
  • Ghost in the Shell - Innocence (イノセンス): A highly philosophical movie by Mamoru Oshii (押井守) that I haven’t fully understood but feel awed by the scene (不明觉厉).

Science Fictions

  • The Three-Body Problem (三体) by Cixin Liu (刘慈欣): You will be amazed by the “density” of fancy ideas in this trilogy. Personally I like the story settings of Book I, the plots of Book II, and the allegories in Book III.
  • The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov: A well-organized story on time travel with causal loops, which also has mixed flavors of suspense and romance.
  • Neuromancer by William Gibson: A classical sci-fi that defines the word “cyberpunk”: High Tech Low Life.
  • Solaris by Stanisław Lem: A weird story that reaches beyond the arrogant human-way of thinking.

Mystery or Suspense Fictions

  • By Agatha Christie
    • And Then There Were None
    • The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
    • Peril at End House
    • Evil Under the Sun
  • Journey under the Midnight Sun (白夜行) by Keigo Higashino (東野圭吾)
  • The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  • The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Historical Novels

  • Les Misérables by Victor Hugo: France, 1815–1832.
  • The Life of Sakamoto Ryōma (竜馬がゆく) by Ryōtarō Shiba (司馬遼太郎): Japan, 1836–1867.
  • Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell: United States, 1861–1873.
  • Lawrence of Arabia by Scott Anderson: Arabia, 1914–1924.
  • Winter of the World by Ken Follett: Germany, Britain, United States, & Soviet Union, 1933–1949.
  • To Live (活着) by Hua Yu (余华): China, 1940s–1980s.
  • The Spy and the Traitor by Ben Macintyre: Soviet Union, 1961–1985.


  • Phoenix (火の鳥) by Osamu Tezuka (手塚治虫)
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカ) by Hayao Miyazaki (宮﨑駿)
  • Mushishi (蟲師) by Yuki Urushibara (漆原友紀)
  • Natsume’s Book of Friends (夏目友人帳) by Yuki Midorikawa (緑川ゆき)

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