May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month background template.

AAPI Heritage Month ()

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. To help celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of 10 compelling dramas, fascinating histories and even a young adult dystopian fantasy for your reading pleasure.

Crying in H Mart” by Michelle Zauner (2021) (Memoir)

After the loss of her mother, Michelle grapples with the duality of being Korean-American and holding on to her cultural identity. This poignant memoir details the love language of food and the cultural differences in parent-child relationships.

The Descendants” by Kaui Hart Hemmings (2007) (Contemporary Fiction)

Known for the film version starring George Clooney, the story is told from the perspective of Matt King, whose family is descended from Hawaiian royalty and is one of Hawaii’s most prominent and wealthiest landowners. Complicated by a tragic accident, a crumbling marriage, two rebellious daughters and an impending massive real estate deal, Matt’s life is at a crossroads.

The Joy Luck Club” by Amy Tan (1989) (Historical Fiction)

Set across multiple decades and generations, this story is about four Chinese immigrant women who meet weekly to play mahjong, thus forming the Joy Luck Club. Detailing love, loss and complex mother-daughter relationships, the story makes us realize how much we can learn from our elders and the stories they have yet to tell.

Karma of the Sun” by Brandon Kit Boey (2023) (Young Adult) (Sci-Fi) (Fantasy)

This young adult, sci-fi fantasy novel is a fascinating look at a dystopian landscape in the Himalayas through the eyes of Karma, a young Tibetan teen searching for his father and who may hold the key to preventing complete destruction of the world.

Moloka’i” by Alan Brennert (2003) (Historical Fiction) (Coming of Age)

This historical fiction set at the end of the 19th century follows the life of Rachel, a young Hawaiian girl infected with Hansen’s Disease who is exiled at Kalaupapa on Molokai. Knowing she can never leave, she finds hope, love and faith in the harshest and darkest parts of life.

No-No Boy” by John Okada (1956) (Historical Fiction) (WWII)

This novel gives a voice to the young Japanese-American men known as “No-No Boys,” those who refused to enlist in the U.S. Army and also refused to swear an oath of allegiance to the U.S. during and after World War II.

The Paper Daughters of Chinatown” by Heather B. Moore (2020) (Historical Fiction) *Trigger Warning* Sexual Assault

Based on actual events, this story retells the shady Chinese immigration practices of the late 19th century. Known as “paper children,” young immigrants were given false documents claiming they were related to someone who was now a U.S. citizen. Upon arrival, many girls were sold into servitude or prostitution. However, there were small beacons of hope to help these young women escape the horrific situations.

Survival in the Killing Fields” by Haing Ngor (1975) (Memoir) (War)

This autobiography is a challenging but important read. Between 1975 and 1979, the Khmer Rouge (an extreme and brutal military regime) took over Cambodia. Residents were forcibly removed from the cities to labor camps in rural areas. More than 1.5 million Cambodians and ethnic minorities were executed in what was known as the “Killing Fields.” This book chronicles the devastating story of one survivor of the Killing Fields.

They Called Us Enemy” by George Takei (2019) (Graphic Novel) (Memoir)

This graphic novel tells the true stories of actor, author and Trekkie George Takei. Takei was sent to live in the Japanese internment camps as a young boy. Seen through the eyes of a child, the story weaves his parents’ complex emotions and struggles and understanding of how and why this happened.

We Were Dreamers: An Immigrant Superhero Origin Story” by Simu Liu (2022) (Memoir)

Known as Shang-Chi from Marvel’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the 10 Rings” or Jung from “Kim’s Convenience,” Simu Liu’s memoir is witty, heartbreaking and hilarious. The story of a Chinese-born Canadian immigrant depicts the struggles of trying to fit in while being born to stand out.

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