May is Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage month and we’ve reached out to some of our favorite AAPI bookish influencers to ask for book recs written by AAPI authors. Check out some of these amazing recommendations, give our friends a follow, and don’t forget to read and celebrate AAPI folks and their amazing stories all year long!
Danielle | @dogmombookworm
“I’m a Korean adoptee living in Philly with my pup Maxi. If you live in Philly, you might see me around the city holding up books against murals trying to get bookstagram photos 🙂 I love literary fiction and memoir with a focus on women authors of color.
One book that is going down as one of the best books I’ve read this year and best of all times is the latest memoir by Nicole Chung, A Living Remedy. It is so deeply moving and emotional and Chung’s writing always feels so clear and precise, but raw with emotion. An absolute must read.”
Maya | @maya.reads, @mnmbooks
“Hi!! My name is Maya (she/her) and I am a booktoker (@maya.reads) and bookstagrammer (@mnmbooks) from Atlanta, Georgia that loves promoting South Asian books! Since I was a kid, I’ve loved going to my local library and searching the stacks for a good book (or 20) to take home. Some of my favorite genres are romance and fantasy. Outside of reading, I love to swim, go on walks, and attend concerts.
To anyone looking for an incredible coming of age story, I highly recommend TJ Powar Has Something to Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo. This is such an amazing book with a great balance of laugh out loud hilarious scenes and serious conversations about beauty standards. Not to mention the academic rivals to lovers romance! Once you start this, it’ll be impossible to put down.”
Cal | @low_keybookish
“Hi my name is Cal, and I’m a Korean American bookstagrammer. Born in the U.S., I’ve lived on both coasts, the Midwest, and in the South! I love exploring and supporting indie bookstores, public libraries, and Little Free Libraries. I predominantly read and review BIPOC and/or queer authors and translated books.
I’d recommend Which Side Are You On by Ryan Lee Wong because I have a lot of connections to the story, and I think reading is personal! The book is a love story to Los Angeles Koreatown, where I spent many years of my life. It also honors activists who have and continue to build interracial coalitions, which can be absolutely messy, contradictory, but necessary for racial justice work”
Seema | @diversifyyourshelf
“I’m Seema! I’m an Indian-American literary influencer and disability advocate! My goal is to foster a love of reading and encourage folks to seek out more books by women, BIPOC, disabled/chronically ill writers, and authors from the LGBTQIA+ community. I also freely share my experiences as a chronically ill woman, offering advice, support, and solidarity. If you follow me, you’ll also see some origami, tap dancing, accessible fitness, thrifted fashion, and plenty of reminders to hydrate!
The Bandit Queens by Parini Shroff is a new favorite! It follows an Indian woman who did not kill her husband, despite what everyone thinks. Everything is fine until the other women in her community ask for help killing their no-good spouses as well. Shroff manages to take kind of a silly concept and completely ground it in reality. It’s sharp and witty and fun but also delves into a lot of serious issues, exploring friendship and patriarchy and romance and abuse and independence and trauma and loyalty and poverty and commitment and caste and colorism and race and religious discrimination and community and corruption and tradition. It’s a really fun one that will still make you think.”
Hannah | @yoon.reads
“I’m a Korean Canadian American freelance photographer living in Philadelphia that has been on bookstagram for 2.5 years. I’m a big mood reader that loves to do buddy reads with friends I’ve met through bookstagram. I love historical fiction, books about mental health and motherhood, and anything related to immigrant diasporic experiences. I also love graphic novels. Books are a way for me to build connections to people around me, just like my photography.
A book I’d recommend is The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui. This is a graphic novel of Bui exploring her family’s story as refugees from Viet Nam. Bui guides readers through the history of Viet Nam, as she tells the deeply personal stories of her parents. It was enough for me to feel and experience the struggle and pain of what people went through during each event.”
Taylor | @taylormadespines
“Hey, y’all! I’m a mixed Japanese-American reader and MLIS (Master of Information Science) grad student currently working on becoming a full-fledged librarian. Although, I thoroughly enjoy a good memoir or YA novel, I make it my mission to read widely across genres, frequently promoting authors and stories from marginalized communities that have been underserved by the publishing industry. Banned books have a particularly special place in this future librarian’s heart and shelves!
Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner covers some pretty heavy topics like growing up mixed-race, cultural isolation, and the death of a parent. While a challenging read at times, Zauner’s raw depiction of grief, identity crisis, and enduring love will resonate long after finishing. Note: ugly-crying may or may not occur when reading this book.”
Anna | @anna.andthebooks
“Hi! I’m Anna, a first generation Korean-American living in sunny Phoenix. I’m a social worker for a non-profit health plan. Consistent with my background, I’m drawn to novels and memoirs exploring identity, cultural commentary, immigration, sociology and mental health. I enjoy most genres though, with the exception of fantasy. 😅 I’m slower these days on account of my two young kids, but I’ll still pop up on the ‘gram.
I’ve read more novels by AAPI authors since joining Bookstagram 4 years ago. My recent favorite is Severance by Ling Ma. I love the dark atmosphere of the book, and Ling Ma’s satire is Sharp. I haven’t stopped thinking about it since I read it a couple months ago.”
Cindy | @cindyheartsbooks
“Born in South Korea, I was adopted at 7 months and grew up in the Midwest. I was always very resistant of the millennial stereotypes, but I have come to terms that I am a geriatric millennial through and through. I love reading all genres but literary fiction is my favorite. Other than reading, I love to consume all things Bravo, early 2000s hip hop, and a good California cab.
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim: There are some books you read where it feels like someone is squeezing your heart throughout the story. Set in Korea during the 50s and 60s, If You Leave Me explores a shift in Korean history most people are unaware of, and also the limitations of being a woman. It shows how the decisions we make in our past, can vastly change the course of our future.”
Ceci | @winstonandbooks
“I’m Ceci, a high school history teacher from Portland, OR. I love reading, cheese, mangoes, sarcasm, and my cat, Winston. I am a multiracial — Chinese, Lebanese, and British. I am the first Chinese-American in my family.
A book by an AAPI author I recommend is, hands down, Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou. I recommend this sharp, hilarious satire because it authentically encapsulates the experience of being an Asian American woman. This book inspires me to be unapologetically me!”
Krithi | @krithiques
“Hello! My name is Krithi and I am an Indian-American bookstagrammer, who loves to read all types of books. I love highlighting stories by LGBTQ+ and BIPOC authors from all genres on my page. I consider myself a lifelong learner and a lifelong lover of literature, and I hope to inspire others to read widely and discover new authors and stories. Aside from reading, I love writing, dancing, and learning languages. And most recently, I’ve developed an affinity for collecting as many houseplants as I can.
I highly recommend American Betiya by Anuradha Rajurkar. American Betiya is a book that I wished I had when I was in high school. I loved the experience of reading a coming-of-age story featuring an Indian-American protagonist. I especially appreciated the nuanced representation of family and the conversations around interracial relationships, friendship, and self-love in this book.”
RA | @definitelyra
“I’m RuthAnn (RA for short), and I live outside Philadelphia in the very cute town of Kennett Square, PA, with my husband and our dog, a Westie named Ted. Since 2014, I’ve had the privilege to advocate with Dressember, a nonprofit that empowers everyday advocates to raise awareness and funds to fight human trafficking. Aside from reading multiple books at a time, my favorite things to do are take long walks, learn about birds, and hear about whatever you’re really into.
The Making of Asian America by Erika Lee is an excellent work of history about how Asian immigrants and citizens have shaped America and American history. One of my favorite aspects is that it was written by a female Asian American historian, and she wove elements of her own family’s immigrant history without drifting into memoir territory. Perhaps the highest compliment for this book is that I bought it as a birthday gift for my mom, a huge history buff and research nut who loves Asian history.”
Saga | @sagarific
I’m Saga (they/she), and I am the face behind (and sometimes on) the bookstagram @sagarific. I read across genres and demographics, and my account reflects that, though I’m partial to stories with intergenerational narratives and coming-of-age themes.
Unwieldy Creatures by Addie Tsai is an endlessly fascinating spin on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This book has some of the best prose I have ever read, and I loved the exploration of queerness and transness at the intersections of Asian identities and the ethical and moral questions around scientific advancements in human fertility. And for something more wholesome and personally special to me, I must recommend Shakti by SJ Sindu (illustrated by Nabi H Ali), a lovely graphic novel featuring an Indian American witch and Hindu mythology.
A literary omnivore and influential Bookstagrammer, Layne applies her vivid creativity for every title we promote by deftly coordinating news coverage and events for authors, writing and editing diverse content for social media, and assisting with Books Forward’s social media engagement initiatives.
As a former special education teacher, Layne firmly believes in the importance of literature and accessibility. This unique point of view is an asset in her publicity efforts as she works to reach readers across various platforms and demographics.
Layne received her Bachelors of Arts in Creative Writing and Bachelors of Science in Psychology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, and her Masters of Art in Teaching from Relay Graduate School of Education. She lives in New Orleans with her loyal, but sadly illiterate cat, Macaroni.