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Books to Read for AAPI Heritage Month

If you didn’t know, May is AAPI (Asian-American and Pacific Islander) Heritage month, which is something I didn’t realize until recently. I’m a first generation Indian-American so this is something I’m really happy to participate in and spread more awareness of books centered around Asian voices and characters.

Diversity in literature is so important for readers everywhere and can introduce you to new cultures, identities, struggles, and more. It’s a great way to learn more about the world and about people whose lives may be different than yours. I think it’s important to highlight these books and encourage everyone to branch out regardless of what they usually read and try something new.

I will be recommending books centered around AAPI characters and/or written by AAPI authors. I’ve read all the books on this list of recommendations and at the end will list books I personally have not read yet but are on my TBR and sounds amazing if you’re interested in reading them 💙

THE ASTONISHING COLOR OF AFTER by EMILY X.R. PAN
Trigger Warnings can be found here
One of my favorite books on this list is The Astonishing Color of After and I honestly cannot recommend it enough. We follow our main character, Leigh, who is half-white and half-Asian. She travels to Taiwan in this book to meet her mom’s side of the family for the first time. She is able to connect with her culture in a way she wasn’t able to before and discover family secrets.

THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT SWEETIE by SANDHYA MENON

If you’re looking for a simple, funny rom-com type YA book, then this is the one for you! I actually found myself laughing out loud to some of the scenes from here and was rooting for our two characters, Sweetie and Ashish, from the start 💙 The author, Sandhya Menon, has a lot of other books about Indian-American characters and I would recommend them all! There’s Something About Sweetie is my favorite though :))

THE NAMESAKE by JHUMPA LAHIRI

The Namesake will always have a special place in my heart because it’s the first book I read where I could really truly relate to the characters and see myself fully represented in the pages of a book. This story follows two Indian immigrants when they move to the U.S. and their kids from when they start their lives in a new country to when they grow old and their kids start getting married, etc. It’s such a beautiful story about immigrants and the clashing of Western and Indian culture. I love this book so much and will forever be recommending it to anyone and everyone 🤧

EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU by CELESTE NG
Trigger Warnings can be found here
I almost didn’t include this book for this list just because I feel like I talk about it all the time. BUT, it’s so good and follows a Chinese-American family so it’s really fitting for this post 😁 You can find my full review of Everything I Never Told You right here, but what you need to know is that it’s a family drama about how they all struggle after the loss of the oldest daughter. It’s so melancholy and hard to read at times, but really worth it.

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES by SABAA TAHIR
Trigger Warnings can be found here
We love a good fantasy, and An Ember in the Ashes is exactly that. This is a really popular series so chances are if you haven’t already read it, you’ve at least heard of it. Laia and Elias are our main characters and they’re living under the Martial Empire where defiance is met with death. Laia is a spy within this Empire and will do anything to save her brother, while Elias is a soldier for the Empire. This book is full of plot twists and is for sure a page turner!

WARCROSS by MARIE LU

If you’re a fan of Ready Player One or the movie, then this is the perfect book for you! It’s about a futuristic-esque world in which a game called Warcross is how people spend their whole time. Emika Chen, our main character, is a hacker and illegally works as a bounty hunter for the game. One night she accidently glitches herself into the game leading to her becoming a global sensation and catching the eyes of the creators of the game. If you’re into technology and video games, then this is a really cool book you might be interested in 👾

⭐️ AAPI BOOKS ON MY TBR ⭐️

  1. THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS by CHLOE GONG

    ⭐️ Summary via Goodreads

The year is 1926, and Shanghai hums to the tune of debauchery.
A blood feud between two gangs runs the streets red, leaving the city helpless in the grip of chaos. At the heart of it all is eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, a former flapper who has returned to assume her role as the proud heir of the Scarlet Gang—a network of criminals far above the law. Their only rivals in power are the White Flowers, who have fought the Scarlets for generations. And behind every move is their heir, Roma Montagov, Juliette’s first love…and first betrayal.
But when gangsters on both sides show signs of instability culminating in clawing their own throats out, the people start to whisper. Of a contagion, a madness. Of a monster in the shadows. As the deaths stack up, Juliette and Roma must set their guns—and grudges—aside and work together, for if they can’t stop this mayhem, then there will be no city left for either to rule.

  1. THE ONES WE’RE MEANT TO FIND by JOAN HE

    ⭐️ Summary via Goodreads

Cee has been trapped on an abandoned island for three years without any recollection of how she arrived, or memories from her life prior. All she knows is that somewhere out there, beyond the horizon, she has a sister named Kay, and it’s up to Cee to cross the ocean and find her.
In a world apart, 16-year-old STEM prodigy Kasey Mizuhara lives in an eco-city built for people who protected the planet―and now need protecting from it. With natural disasters on the rise due to climate change, eco-cities provide clean air, water, and shelter. Their residents, in exchange, must spend at least a third of their time in stasis pods, conducting business virtually whenever possible to reduce their environmental footprint. While Kasey, an introvert and loner, doesn’t mind the lifestyle, her sister Celia hated it. Popular and lovable, Celia much preferred the outside world. But no one could have predicted that Celia would take a boat out to sea, never to return.
Now it’s been three months since Celia’s disappearance, and Kasey has given up hope. Logic says that her sister must be dead. But nevertheless, she decides to retrace Celia’s last steps. Where they’ll lead her, she does not know. Her sister was full of secrets. But Kasey has a secret of her own.

  1. LOVEBOAT, TAIPEI by ABIGAIL HING WEN

    ⭐️ Summary via Goodreads

When eighteen-year-old Ever Wong’s parents send her from Ohio to Taiwan to study Mandarin for the summer, she finds herself thrust among the very over-achieving kids her parents have always wanted her to be, including Rick Woo, the Yale-bound prodigy profiled in the Chinese newspapers since they were nine—and her parents’ yardstick for her never-measuring-up life.
Unbeknownst to her parents, however, the program is actually an infamous teen meet-market nicknamed Loveboat, where the kids are more into clubbing than calligraphy and drinking snake-blood sake than touring sacred shrines.
Free for the first time, Ever sets out to break all her parents’ uber-strict rules—but how far can she go before she breaks her own heart?

  1. THE STAR-TOUCHED QUEEN by ROSHANI CHOKSHI

    ⭐️ Summary via Goodreads

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…
But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

I hope you were able to find a few recommendations from this list that interested you!

Have you read any of these? What are some books you would recommend for AAPI Heritage Month?

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Author: Aarushi @ aarushireads

Hi friends! My name is Aarushi (she/her) and welcome to my blog 💖 I’m a 19 year old reader and decided to start this so I’d have a place where I could write down all my bookish rambles and thoughts! In addition to reading, I love to write in my free time and am currently working on my YA Fantasy WIP. Found family, rivals to lovers, and a historical backdrop are just a few tropes I've added in. I love interacting with other readers and writers so be sure to leave your comments so we can chat! Thanks for being here <33 All my socials are aarushireads :) *profile pic created by prequel

18 thoughts on “Books to Read for AAPI Heritage Month”

  1. loved reading this post, you mentioned a lot of great books!! i also really loved Everything I Never Told You – i agree that it’s such a melancholy read for sure, and very impactful 💕 and An Ember in the Ashes is incredible, i couldn’t stop reading it once i started!

    i hope you’ll enjoy These Violent Delights – it’s one of my favorite 2021 reads so far, Chloe Gong’s writing is so beautiful and the characters are everything 🤩 it’s a painful read for sure tho haha. good luck with your TBR :))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ahh tysm Dezzy!! 💙 i’m glad you agree with this list & that you feel the same way about Everything I Never Told You and An Ember in the Ashes :)) they were both just so well written in their own ways

      omg yess that makes me so much more excited to read These Violent Delights! ngl, i love a good painful book LOL so def looking forward to that. thanks again <33

      Liked by 1 person

  2. omg i love this list so much! the astonishing color of after and an ember in the ashes are both super high on my tbr, so i can’t wait to get to them! also these violent delights is SUCH an amazing book, plus the writing in TOWMTF is absolutely gorgeous, so i hope you love both of them as much as i did! 💞💞

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks so much, Ahaana! i hope you enjoy The Astonishing Color of After and An Ember in the Ashes when you get around to reading them 🥰 & it’s so good to know you loved These Violent Delights and TOWMTF; that makes me even more excited to read them :))

      Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a great list of recommendations!

    (Also just a quick note, I debated whether or not to say anything but decided I might as well: you followed me the other day, but I accidentally deleted you as a follower today (oops!). Sorry about that! Feel free to re-follow me, if you want. :))

    Liked by 1 person

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