Posted in Interesting News & Commentary

Asian American and Pacific Islander Book Recommendations


What are you reading this month? May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, and to celebrate the contributions and influence of AAPI communities in the United States, we have gathered eight significant reads written by AAPI authors. All titles are available at McCain Library in print and several are also available in eBook. Check one out today!

I Hotel by Karen Tei Yamashita – I Hotel follows a group from San Francisco’s Chinatown. Taking place in 1968 and the years following, the novel explores their experiences throughout America’s struggle for civil rights. This group is connected through an intent to save the International Hotel, the main site for the Yellow Power Movement.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki – A Tale for the Time Being explores the lives of two characters set generations apart: Nao and Ruth. Nao is a sixteen year old from Tokyo who, after struggling with bullying at school, decides to take her life. Before she does this though, she decides to write about the life of her great grandmother. Shortly after, we are introduced to Ruth, who lives across the Pacific. Ruth discovers Nao’s writings and is drawn into the past.

The Refugees by Viet Thanh Nguyen – The Refugees is a collection of short stories revolving around topics such as race and immigration. The stories explain the lives of people stuck between two worlds, whether these worlds are two different countries or two differing personalities.

Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao – After the death of her mother, Poornima, a young girl in India, is stranded with her siblings and uncaring father. Poornima’s life is already set out for her: she will take care of her siblings until her father sets up an arranged marriage. This all changes when Savitha arrives, however. Savitha shows her a world that she never thought possible. So when Savitha is sent away, Poornima does everything that she can to return to her friend.

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay – After discovering that his Filipino cousin, Jun, was killed due to the war on drugs, Jay travels to the Philippines to uncover the whole story. Along the way, he is forced to confront new truths about his cousin to fully understand the events leading up to his death.

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung – This biography recounts the experiences of Nicole Chung as a transracial adoptee. After being placed for adoption by her biological Korean parents, Nicole is adopted by a white family in the United States. As a child, she believes that her parents made this choice for her own wellbeing, but as she grows up and begins to experience prejudice due to her race, she questions if she was told the full story and seeks the truth of her adoption.

Hawaii’s Story by Hawaii’s Queen by Queen Liliuokalani – This biography, written by Hawaii’s last monarch (Queen Liliuokalani), tells over six decades of Hawaii’s history. The events discussed range from Queen Liliuokalani’s upbringing to the eventual annexation of Hawaii by the United States. This book directly portrays the actions of the United States and the harm that it caused to the Hawaiian people. It has often been referred to as one of the most significant books in Hawaiian literature.

The Leavers by Lisa Ko – This novel tells the story of Deming Guo, a young boy living in the Bronx. Deming’s mother, Polly, is an undocumented immigrant and one day does not return home from work. With his mother gone, Deming is taken in by two white college professors. Here, he must learn how to live after everything that he once knew was taken away. At the same time, his mother must also deal with her past mistakes.

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