Book Blog

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! Try one of these books by AAPI authors which provide unique insight into the variety of asian and pacific islander cultures; there are lists for all ages.

Items marked with an * are exclusive to the Collegedale Library libby/overdrive ebook offerings.

Memoirs and Remembrance

Image of 5 book covers of memoirs

  • In The Country* - In these nine globe-trotting tales, Mia Alvar gives voice to the women and men of the Philippines and its diaspora. From teachers to housemaids, from mothers to sons, Alvar’s stories explore the universal experiences of loss, displacement, and the longing to connect across borders both real and imagined. In the Country speaks to the heart of everyone who has ever searched for a place to call home—and marks the arrival of a formidable new voice in literature.
  • All You Can Ever Know* - o Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. She believed that her biological parents had made the ultimate sacrifice in the hope of giving her a better life, that forever feeling slightly out of place was her fate as a transracial adoptee. But as Nicole grew up—facing prejudice her adoptive family couldn’t see and finding her identity as an Asian American and as a writer, she began to wonder. A profound, moving chronicle of surprising connections and the repercussions of unearthing painful family secrets—vital reading for anyone who has ever struggled to figure out where they belong.
  • Good Talk* - Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into his own family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Mira has to think back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love. Written with humor and vulnerability, this deeply relatable graphic memoir is a love letter to the art of conversation—and to the hope that hovers in our most difficult questions.
  • The Woman Warrior* - In her award-winning book The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston created an entirely new form—an exhilarating blend of autobiography and mythology, of world and self, of hot rage and cool analysis. First published in 1976, it has become a classic in its innovative portrayal of multiple and intersecting identities—immigrant, female, Chinese, American. As a girl, Kingston lives in two confounding worlds: the California to which her parents have immigrated and the China of her mother's "talk stories." Kingston's sense of self emerges in the mystifying gaps in these stories, which she learns to fill with stories of her own.
  • The Best We Could Do* - o While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, Thi Bui ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects of displacement, Bui documents the story of her family's daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s.
  • They Called Us Enemy* - o In a stunning graphic memoir, George Takei revisits his haunting childhood in American concentration camps, as one of over 100,000 Japanese Americans imprisoned by the U.S. government during World War II. Experience the forces that shaped an American icon—and America itself—in this gripping tale of courage, country, loyalty, and love.
  • Long Live The Tribe of Fatherless Girls* - Acclaimed literary essayist T Kira Madden's raw and redemptive debut memoir is about coming of age and reckoning with desire as a queer, biracial teenager amidst the fierce contradictions of Boca Raton, Florida, a place where she found cult-like privilege, shocking racial disparities, rampant white-collar crime, and powerfully destructive standards of beauty hiding in plain sight. Equal parts eulogy and love letter. Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls is a story about trauma and forgiveness, about families of blood and affinity, both lost and found, unmade and rebuilt, crooked and beautiful.
  • Eat A Peach* - The youngest son of a deeply religious Korean American family in Virginia, David Chang opened Momofuku Noodle bar in a tiny, stark space in Manhattan’s East Village. It would have been impossible to know it at the time—and certainly Chang would have bet against himself—but he, who had failed at almost every endeavor in his life, was about to become one of the most influential chefs of his generation, driven by the question, “What if the underground could become the mainstream?”

 

Fiction

Image of a selection of book covers of AAPI Fiction books.

  • How Much Of These Hills Is Gold* - Ba dies in the night; Ma is already gone. Newly orphaned children of immigrants, Lucy and Sam are suddenly alone in a land that refutes their existence. Fleeing the threats of their western mining town, they set off to bury their father in the only way that will set them free from their past. Both epic and intimate, blending Chinese symbolism and reimagined history with fiercely original language and storytelling, How Much of These Hills Is Gold is a haunting adventure story, an unforgettable sibling story, and the yearning for home.
  • Interior Chinatown* - Willis Wu doesn't perceive himself as the protagonist in his own life: he's merely Generic Asian Man. Sometimes he gets to be Background Oriental Making a Weird Face or even Disgraced Son, but always he is relegated to a prop. Yet every day, he leaves his tiny room in a Chinatown SRO and enters the Golden Palace restaurant, where Black and White, a procedural cop show, is in perpetual production. After stumbling into the spotlight, Willis finds himself launched into a wider world than he's ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family.
  • A Place For Us - As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made. There is Hadia: their headstrong, eldest daughter, whose marriage is a match of love and not tradition. Huda, the middle child, determined to follow in her sister's footsteps. And lastly, their estranged son, Amar, who returns to the family fold for the first time in three years. A Place for Us is a book for our times: an astonishingly tender-hearted novel of identity and belonging, from the bonds that bring us together, the differences that pull us apart, and the resonance of what it means to be an American family today.
  • No One Can Pronounce My Name* - In a suburb outside Cleveland, a community of Indian Americans has settled into lives that straddle the divide between Eastern and Western cultures. For some, America is a bewildering and alienating place where coworkers can't pronounce your name but will eagerly repeat the Sanskrit phrases from their yoga class. Harit, a lonely Indian immigrant in his mid forties, lives with his mother who can no longer function after the death of Harit's sister, Swati. Meanwhile, Ranjana, also an Indian immigrant in her mid forties, has just seen her only child, Prashant, off to college. When Harit and Ranjana's paths cross, they begin a strange yet necessary friendship that brings to light the distinctive, funny, and insightful lives of people who must reconcile the strictures of their culture and traditions with their own dreams and desires.
  • The Namesake* - Meet the Ganguli family, new arrivals from Calcutta, trying their best to become Americans even as they pine for home. The name they bestow on their firstborn, Gogol, betrays all the conflicts of honoring tradition in a new world—conflicts that will haunt Gogol on his own winding path through divided loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs. In The Namesake, the Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri brilliantly illuminates the immigrant experience and the tangled ties between generations.
  • The Sympathizer* - o The winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as seven other awards, The Sympathizer is one of the most acclaimed books of the twenty-first century. With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Vladimir Nabokov, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a "man of two minds," a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who comes to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping spy novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.
  • Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet* - The 1940s, the height of the war: young Henry Lee’s world is a jumble of confusion and excitement. While “scholarshipping” at the exclusive Rainier Elementary, where the white kids ignore him, Henry meets Keiko Okabe, a young Japanese American student. Amid the chaos of blackouts, curfews, and FBI raids, Henry and Keiko forge a bond of friendship–and innocent love–that transcends the long-standing prejudices of their Old World ancestors. Forty years later, Lee comes upon a crowd gathered outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. The new owner has made an incredible discovery: the belongings of Japanese families, left when they were rounded up and sent to internment camps during World War II. As Henry looks on, the owner opens a Japanese parasol – Keiko’s parasol. Set during one of the most conflicted and volatile times in American history, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is an extraordinary story of commitment and enduring hope.
  • On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous* - Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.

The History of Discrimination

Image of the 3 books covers on the history of discrimination.

  • The Making Of Asian America* - The Making of Asian America shows how generations of Asian immigrants and their American-born descendants have made and remade Asian American life, from sailors who came on the first trans-Pacific ships in the 1500 to the Japanese Americans incarcerated during World War II. Over the past fifty years, a new Asian America has emerged out of community activism and the arrival of new immigrants and refugees. But as Lee shows, Asian Americans have continued to struggle as both "despised minorities" and "model minorities," revealing all the ways that racism has persisted in their lives and in the life of the country. Published fifty years after the passage of the United States' Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, The Making of Asian America is new way of understanding America itself, its complicated histories of race and immigration, and its place in the world today.
  • Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning* - Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. As the daughter of Korean immigrants, Cathy Park Hong grew up steeped in shame, suspicion, and melancholy. She would later understand that these “minor feelings” occur when American optimism contradicts your own reality—when you believe the lies you’re told about your own racial identity. With sly humor and a poet’s searching mind, Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today.
  • Asian American Dreams: The Emergence Of An American People* - This groundbreaking book is about the transformation of Asian Americans from a few small, disconnected, and largely invisible ethnic groups into a self-identified racial group that is influencing every aspect of American society. It explores the junctures that shaped a new consciousness, including the murder of Vincent Chin; the working conditions of Filipinos in the Alaska canneries; the boycott of Korean American greengrocers in Brooklyn; and many others. Helen Zia, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, was born in the 1950s when there were only 150,000 Chinese Americans in the entire country, writes as a personal witness to the dramatic changes involving Asian Americans. Written for both Asian Americans and non-Asians, Asian American Dreams argues that America can no longer afford to ignore these emergent, vital, and singular American people

For Teens

Image of a selection of book covers of AAPI Teen fiction books.

  • Patron Saints Of Nothing* - Jay Reguero plans to spend the last semester of his senior year playing video games before heading to the University of Michigan in the fall. But when he discovers that his Filipino cousin Jun was murdered as part of President Duterte's war on drugs, and no one in the family wants to talk about what happened, Jay travels to the Philippines to find out the real story. Hoping to uncover more about Jun and the events that led to his death, Jay is forced to reckon with the many sides of his cousin before he can face the whole horrible truth — and the part he played in it. As gripping as it is lyrical, Patron Saints of Nothing is a page-turning portrayal of the struggle to reconcile faith, family, and immigrant identity.
  • American Born Chinese* - A tour-de-force by rising indy comics star Gene Yang, American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters: Jin Wang, who moves to a new neighborhood with his family only to discover that he's the only Chinese-American student at his new school; the powerful Monkey King, subject of one of the oldest and greatest Chinese fables; and Chin-Kee, a personification of the ultimate negative Chinese stereotype, who is ruining his cousin Danny's life with his yearly visits. Their lives and stories come together with an unexpected twist in this action-packed modern fable. American Born Chinese is an amazing ride, all the way up to the astonishing climax.
  • The Girl From Everywhere* - As the daughter of a time traveler, Nix has spent sixteen years sweeping across the globe and through the centuries aboard her father's ship. Modern-day New York City, nineteenth-century Hawaii, other lands seen only in myth and legend—Nix has been to them all. But when her father gambles with her very existence, it all may be about to end. Now that he's uncovered the map to 1868 Honolulu, the year before Nix's mother died in childbirth, Nix's entire existence is at stake. No one knows what will happen if her father changes the past. It could erase Nix's future, her dreams, her adventures… and her connection with the charming Persian thief, Kash, who's been part of their crew for two years.
  • A Thousand Beginnings And Endings - Star-crossed lovers, meddling immortals, feigned identities, battles of wits, and dire warnings: A mountain loses her heart. Two sisters transform into birds to escape captivity. A young man learns the true meaning of sacrifice. A young woman takes up her mother's mantle and leads the dead to their final resting place. From fantasy to science fiction to contemporary, from romance to tales of revenge, these short stories will beguile readers from start to finish.
  • Parachutes* - They're called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the United States while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang, living a privileged life in Shanghai, never thought she'd be one of them. Suddenly she finds herself living in a stranger’s house, with her newfound freedom. Dani De La Cruz, Claire's new host sister in California, couldn't be less thrilled that her mom rented out a room to Claire. An academic and debate team star, Dani is determined to earn her way into Yale. But Dani's game plan veers unexpectedly off course when her debate coach starts working with her privately. As they steer their own distinct paths, Dani and Claire keep crashing into one another, setting a course that will change their lives forever. Award-winning author Kelly Yang weaves together an unforgettable modern immigrant story about love, trauma, family, corruption, and the power of speaking out.
  • Almost American Girl* - For as long as she can remember, it's been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn't always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together. So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation—following her mother's announcement that she's getting married—Robin is devastated. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn't understand the language. She is completely cut off from her friends in Seoul. At home, she doesn't fit in with her new stepfamily, and worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to—her mother. Then one day Robin's mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.
  • American Panda* - At seventeen, Mei should be in high school, but skipping fourth grade was part of her parents' master plan. Now a freshman at MIT, she is on track to fulfill the rest of this predetermined future: become a doctor, marry a preapproved Taiwanese Ivy Leaguer, produce a litter of babies. With everything her parents have sacrificed to make her cushy life a reality, Mei can't bring herself to tell them the truth—that she (1) hates germs, (2) falls asleep in biology lectures, and (3) has a crush on her classmate Darren Takahashi, who is decidedly not Taiwanese. From debut author Gloria Chao comes an incisive, laugh-out-loud, heartfelt tale of how unlike the panda, life isn't always so black and white.
  • Starfish* - Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she's thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn't quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin. So when she doesn’t get an invitation to Prism but does receive an invitation from a childhood friend, Kiko jumps at the opportunity to leave her small town. And now that she is finally free to be her own person, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave. From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.
  • The Sun Is Also A Star* - o Natasha is a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. Definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when her family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. And Daniel has always been the good son, the good student, living up to his parents' high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But something about Natasha makes him think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store. Every moment in their lives has brought them to this single moment. A million futures lie before them. Which one will come true?
  • I'll Be The One* - Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn't dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn't call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she's about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her—without losing herself.

 

For Kids

Image of a selection of book covers of AAPI children's books.

Picture Books

  • A Different Pond - As a young boy, Bao Phi awoke early, hours before his father's long workday began, to fish on the shores of a small pond in Minneapolis. Unlike many other anglers, Bao and his father fished for food, not recreation. Between hope-filled casts, Bao's father told him about a different pond in their homeland of Vietnam.
  • Eyes That Kiss in the Corners - A young Asian girl notices that her eyes look different from her peers'. They have big, round eyes and long lashes. She realizes that her eyes are like her mother's, her grandmother's, and her little sister's. They have eyes that kiss in the corners and glow like warm tea, crinkle into crescent moons, and are filled with stories of the past and hope for the future.
  • Ho'onani: Hula Warrior - An empowering celebration of identity, acceptance and Hawaiian culture based on the true story of a young girl in Hawaii who dreams of leading the boys-only hula troupe at her school.
  • All About The Philippines: Stories, Songs, Crafts And Games For Kids - Learn about the life, culture, language, and beliefs of the Filipino peoples.
  • Mali Under The Night Sky: A Lao Story Of Home - The true story of Laotian American artist Malichansouk Kouanchao, who lived an idyllic life in Laos in a community where she felt safe and was much loved. But the coming war forces the five year old and her family to flee to another country and a life that was less than ideal.
  • 'Ohana Means Family - In this cumulative rhyme in the style of "The House That Jack Built," a family celebrates Hawaii and its culture while serving poi at a luau.
  • Desert Girl, Monsoon Boy - One girl. One boy. Their lives couldn't be more different. While she turns her shoulder to sandstorms and blistering winds, he cuffs his pants when heavy rains begin to fall. But as the Indian weather becomes more severe, and their families and animals must flee to safety, their destination begins to show that they might be more alike than they seem.
  • Silly Chicken - In Pakistan, Rani believes that her mother loves their pet chicken Bibi more than she cares for her, until the day that a fluffy chick appears and steals Rani's own affections.
  • Peek! A Thai Hide-and-Seek - A father and daughter play hide-and-seek in the midst of the animals near their house in Thailand.
  • My First Day - The raining season has come to the Mekong Delta, and An, a young Vietnamese boy, sets out alone in a wooden boat wearing a little backpack and armed only with a single oar. On the way, he is confronted by giant crested waves, heavy rainfall and an eerie forests where fear takes hold of him. Although daunted by the dark unknown, An knows it will all be worth it when he reaches his destination.
  • Lali’s Feather - Lali finds a feather in the field. Is little feather lost? Lali sets out to find feather a home.
  • P Is For Poppadoms: An Indian Alphabet Book - From C for chai to Y for yoga, this fresh, rhyming alphabet book takes young readers on a spirited journey to discover the people, places, lifestyles and language of India.
  • Natsumi's Song Of Summer - Two young cousins meet for the first time when Jill's family travels from America to Japan. Natsumi's nervousness disappears when she discovers she and her cousin both love summertime beaches, food, festivals and fireworks! Then Jill asks Natsumi about the strange buzzing sound that comes from the nearby trees. Oh no! What if Jill is frightened of Natsumi's cherished cicadas, the insects that sing the music of summertime?

Novels

  • Tua and the Elephant - In Chiang Mai, Thailand, nine-year-old Tua releases an abused elephant from its chains--can she complete the rescue by getting it to an elephant refuge without being caught herself?
  • The Night Diary - Shy twelve-year-old Nisha, forced to flee her home with her Hindu family during the 1947 partition of India, tries to find her voice and make sense of the world falling apart around her by writing to her deceased Muslim mother in the pages of her diary.
  • The Year of the Book - Follows a young Chinese American girl, as she navigates relationships with family, friends, and her fourth-grade classroom, and finds a true best friend.
  • Stranger On The Home Front: A Story Of Indian Immigrants and World War I - What does it mean to be American? Living in California in 1916, Margaret Singh thinks nothing of the war in Europe or the cause of Indian independence from Britain until the United States enters the war, her father is arrested, and her own allegiances are called into question.
  • Kaiulani: The People’s Princess - Follows the life of Victoria Kaiulani Cleghorn from 1889 to 1893 as she studies to be a better princess, even as Hawaii's monarchy and her throne are being undermined by American businessmen.
  • Peasprout Chen [Series] - Peasprout Chen dreams of becoming a legend of wu liu, the deadly and beautiful art of martial arts figure skating. As the first students from the rural country of Shin to attend Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, Peasprout and her little brother Cricket have some pretty big skates to fill! A Taiwanese-inspired middle-grade fantasy series.
  • Vanished - Eleven-year-old Neela dreams of being a famous musician, performing for admiring crowds on her traditional Indian stringed instrument, the veena. Her particular instrument was a gift from her grandmother—intricately carved with a mysterious-looking dragon. She must solve the mystery when her beautiful but cursed instrument goes missing.
  • Desert Diary: Japanese American Kids Behind Barbed Wire - In March 1943, twenty-seven children began third grade in a strange new environment: the Topaz Relocation Center in Utah. Together with their teacher, Miss Yamauchi, these uprooted young Americans began keeping a classroom diary, with a different child illustrating each day's entry. Their full-color diary entries paint a vivid picture of daily life in an internment camp: schoolwork, sports, pets, holidays, health--and the mixed feelings of citizens who were loyal but distrusted.
  • Call It Courage - Based on a Polynesian legend, this is the story of a youth who overcomes his fear of the sea and proves his courage to himself and his tribe. A Newbery Medal book.
  • Amina’s Voice - A Pakistani-American Muslim girl struggles to stay true to her family's vibrant culture while simultaneously blending in at school after tragedy strikes her community.
  • Save Me A Seat - Ravi has just moved to the United States from India and has always been at the top of his class; Joe has lived in the same town his whole life and has learning problems--but when their lives intersect in the first week of fifth grade they are brought together by a common enemy (the biggest bully in their class) and the need to take control of their lives.

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A Place for Us

Book cover of A Place for Us by Fatima Mirza

A Place for Us, by Fatima Mirza, tells the story of a Muslim Indian-American family and the tensions between generations.  The parents, Layla and Rafiq, both immigrants from India, were an arranged marriage.  Both are still heavily steeped in tradition, as is the local community of Musli

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My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

Book cover of My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

This is an epic work of fiction covering events as wide ranging as the holocaust and the civil rights movement, but all told through the diary of a 10 year old girl growing up in 1960s Chicago.  Karen Reyes’ remarkable imagination and art skills set her apart from her peers although it’s her Hisp

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