Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month Reading List

woman reading in coffee shop

It’s Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! To celebrate here are some books by Asian and Pacific Islander authors we’re reading. All books are linked to second-hand or independent booksellers. Happy reading!


Genre: Memoir, Feminism

Synopsis: Edited by Piyali Bhattacharya, Good Girls Marry Doctors is an anthology exploring daughterhood in South Asian American families. 


Genre: History, Travel

Synopsis: A nontraditional travel guide, Detours examines the history of Hawai’i, including the island’s experiences with colonialism, military occupation, tourism, food insecurity, high costs of living, and climate change. Edited by Hokulani K. Aikau and Vernadette Vicuña Gonzalez, Detours brings us Hawai’i beyond the picture on a postcard.


Genre: Memoir, Race

Synopsis: Not Quite White is a memoir manifesto about race, immigration and assimilation. Sharmila Sen tells us her experience as an Indian American woman navigating through her journey into the heart of “not whiteness.”


Genre: Politics

Synopsis: Activist Grace Lee Boggs assesses the current crises facing our world and offers radical solutions to the reality unfolding. 


Genre: Memoir, Humor

Synopsis: In this funny, heartwarming memoir, comedian Ali Wong shares her life experiences through letters to her daughters.


Genre: Memoir, Music

Synopsis: Michelle Zauner, known in the music world as Japanese Breakfast, shares her experiences growing up as one of the only Asian kids in her school, moving away to college, and embracing her Korean heritage after her month is diagnosed with terminal cancer.  


Genre: Memoir, LGBTQ+

Synopsis: Fairest is a memoir about a precocious boy with albinism, a “sun child” from a rural Philippine village, who would grow up to become a woman in America. Her evocative reflections will shift our own perceptions of love, identity, gender, and the fairness of life.



Genre: Contemporary

Synopsis: Following two families from Pakistan and Iraq in the 1990s to San Francisco in 2016, Bad Muslim Discount is a hilarious, timely, and provocative comic novel about being Muslim immigrants in modern America.


Genre: Historical fiction

Synopsis: Four mothers, four daughters, four families, whose histories shift with the four winds depending on who’s telling the stories. In 1949, four Chinese women, recent immigrants to San Francisco, meet weekly to play mahjong and tell stories of what they left behind in China. 


Genre: Contemporary, Romance

Synopsis: Crazy Rich Asians is the outrageously funny debut novel about three super-rich, pedigreed Chinese families and the gossip, backbiting, and scheming that occurs when the heir to one of the most massive fortunes in Asia brings home his ABC (American-born Chinese) girlfriend to the wedding of the season.


Genre: Historical fiction, romance

Synopsis: In 1986, Henry Lee joins a crowd outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle’s Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has discovered the belongings of Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during World War II.


Genre: Contemporary

Synopsis: Meet Kailash. AKA Kalashnikov. Or AK-47. Or just plain AK. His journey from India has taken him to graduate school in New York where he keeps falling in love: not only with women – Jennifer, Nina, Cai Yan – but with literature and radical politics, the fuel of youthful exuberance.

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