20 Must-Read Asian American Authored Books For AAPI Month


What books are on your reading list for AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) month?

When thinking of the best books to recommend for AAPI month in May, Forbes spoke with Lucy Yu, owner of Yu & Me books in Chinatown, New York. “It was so hard to narrow down to just these books, but I tried to choose a comprehensive range of titles that span across diverse experiences. I use reading as a tool to connect with both worlds similar to mine and those outside of my own. By connecting to stories in this way, I can gain a better understanding of others and myself – which ultimately help me connect with others easier in our present world. These are the books that have done that for me and the Yu & Me Books team, and they have helped us travel to the lovely brains of other characters. I hope that you all enjoy these choices!” offers Lucy Yu. These books are a thoughtful compilation of 20 interesting and incredibly diverse books to read from the Asian & Asian American disapora.

1) Another Appalachia: Coming Up Queer and Indian in a Mountain Place by Neema Avashia

A nuanced collection of essays that give room for complicated love and space especially with neighbors that have starkly different upbringings. This book lives beautifully in the gray area of trying to navigate a divisive environment while growing up queer and Asian American.

2) Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Not only phenomenally illustrated, this graphic novel will make you feel like you are watching one of your favorite movies while being wrapped in a cozy blanket. This book shows a parent and child navigating sexuality, growing up, and immigration in parallel while trying to support each other cross generationally.

3) Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades

For lovers of Jacqueline Woodson and Ocean Vuong, the lyrical prose of Brown Girls weave the reader through the lives of brown girls in Queens trying to find their place in this world.

4) House of Sticks by Ly Tran

A memoir that goes straight into your heart, warming your body with nostalgia, hurt, and healing throughout reading Ly’s journey of moving to NYC from Vietnam with her family.

5) A Place for Us by Fatima Mirza

One of my favorite books of all time, Fatima Mirza writes with delicacy and precision about all that’s left unsaid within a family and how to love each other despite not being able to say so. The lack of communication within a family does not mean lack of support but it does show the cultural & generational gaps of not always being able to do so in the ways that help the most.

6) Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap

A funny, loving, engrossing and witty collection of fictional stories taking the reader through contemporary Thailand.

7) Free Food for Millionaires by Min Jin Lee

I still can’t stop thinking about Casey (the main character) and how much her brain both differs from mine and mirrors my own. As someone else who is also consistently trying to find my own place given the complications of family, friends, career, and interracial relationships, this book nailed the nuances of trying to balance it all.

8) Yolk by Mary HK Choi

I couldn’t put this book down. Written with dark humor, a distinct voice, and sharpness, I can’t help but care deeply about sisters Jayne and June who struggle to say I love you to each other but continue to show love in the best ways they can.

9) The Great Reclamation by Rachel Heng

Set in an ever changing Singapore, we follow Ah Boon growing up during twentieth-century coastal Singapore in the waning years of British rule. The Great Reclamation is historical fiction, a love story, and coming of age story that showcases the difficulty of how to define home.

10) Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

Following the main character, Daiyu, being smuggled across an ocean from China to America during the 19th century, she is forced to keep reinventing herself to survive. Written with a prose that is so beautiful and sweeping, you can’t help but love this historical fiction novel showcasing a story that isn’t often told.

11) The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu

A mix of science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction, these fantastic short stories range widely in different times and worlds.

12) What My Bones Know by Stephanie Foo

This memoir tore me down and healed me from cover to cover. Foo walks through her journey of complex PTSD in a vulnerable, honest way and walks us through the nonlinear reality of continuous healing, and she makes us laugh along the way!

13) Stay True by Hua Hsu

A memoir showcasing the strength and love that exists between special friendships and the aftermath of losing a best friend. This book hits so close to home for me and continues to be one of my favorites of all time.

14) Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society, and the Meaning of Sex by Angela Chen

A brilliant essay collection about how to be asexual in a world primarily focused on sexual attraction. I recommend this one to everyone!

15) Tell Me How to Be by Neel Patel

An emotional and touching story of a mother and son who believe that they both fail to understand each other but are far more similar than they realize. Neel Patel writes about shame, guilt, love, identity while having to navigate that within family.

16) Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

I became deeply involved in this book and blacked out in 2 days reading it. It follows two friends that love each other but are never lovers as they become creative partners in video games. It shows how much friends show up for each other without expectation, also how friends fail to, and how much pain even the closest friends hide from each other.

17) Fire is Not a Country by Cynthia Dewi Oka

A stunning poetry collection in which Indonesian American poet Cynthia Dewi Oka dives into the implications of being parents, children, workers, and unwanted human beings under global capitalism and multiple histories.

18) A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

A very special, beautiful story full of magical realism following two different timelines, environments, and women that weave together both seamlessly although anachronistically.

19) First Generation cookbook by Frankie Gaw

One of my favorite cookbooks ever with innovative recipes that really show the mixed kitchen of a first generation kid growing up in America. Plus, the best step-by-step breakdown of dumplings I’ve ever seen.

20) Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed by Abi Balingit

Obsessed with everything bout this cookbook not only because it makes me drool, but the stories between and within the recipes of Abi’s family and community make it exceptional.

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