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16 Memoirs by AAPI Authors to Add To Your Reading List

From generational trauma to filial duty, these AAPI authors aren't afraid to share their stories.

If you're like me, you love a raw and heart-tugging memoir. In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, why not pick up a copy of a memoir by an AAPI author? Warning: Some of these books will definitely make you cry (in a good way).

Here are 16 must-read memoirs by AAPI authors:

1. Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong

Cover of "Minor Feelings" by Cathy Park Hong
Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

Minor Feelings is quite literally the opposite of what its title frames it to be. Cathy Park Hong details the roots of her relationship with her American identity and its connections to her relationships, lifestyle, and her sense of self. More importantly, it sheds light on the significance of racial sensitivity and cultural awareness in our world today through the lens of Hong's reality as an Asian American.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

2. American Seoul by Helena Rho

Cover of "American Seoul" by Helena Rho
Amazon Publishing / Via amazon.com

Helena Rho describes her journey of taking charge of her future and discovering what it means to be Korean. Rho's family experiences also touch on the deep-rooted beliefs of Korean culture and the complexity of mother-daughter relationships. But, there is abuse and violence mentioned, so if you're sensitive to those topics, this book may not be the one for you. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here

3. Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner

Cover of "Crying in H Mart" by Michelle Zauner
Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

This book blew up during quarantine and for a well-deserved reason! Michelle Zauner's debut memoir describes how she used food as a way to cope and grieve with her mother's death, while simultaneously bridging a connection to her Korean heritage. It's a raw book about the reality of grief and the different forms coping can take. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

4. House of Sticks by Ly Tran

Cover of "House of Sticks" by Ly Tran
Simon & Schuster / Via simonandschuster.com

In House of Sticks, Ly Tran beautifully depicts her clashing identities and responsibilities as a Vietnam immigrant to the bustling city of Queens. It's essentially a coming-of-age novel where Tran must find her way through the intricacies of poverty, education, and filial bond. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

5. Made in China by Anna Qu

Cover of "Made in China" by Anna Qu
Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

In this heart-wrenching yet entrancing memoir, Anna Qu writes about the trauma of work in immigrant families. As a young girl, she was forced to work in a garment factory and abused at home. Thus, she calls the Office of Children and Family Services, which affects her career nearly 20 years later. This powerful memoir largely focuses on the costs of immigration in terms of broken families and the connotations of work. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

6. Little Manila Is in the Heart by Dawn Bohulano Mabalon

Cover of "Little Manila Is in the Heart" by Dawn Bohulano Mabalon
Duke University Press / Via dukeupress.edu

Although this was originally published in 2013, it remains such a compelling book about the recollection of culture and community of immigrant Filipinas/os in downtown Stockton. It traces the birth and demolition of Little Manila through personal archives, stories, newspapers, and more. It's truly such an eye-opening book about the vibrant culture of these immigrant families and the significance of their work in the development of California agriculture. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here

7. Not Quite Not White by Sharmila Sen

Cover of "Not Quite Not White" by Sharmila Sen
Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

Sharmila Sen tackles the idea of racial assimilation following her emigration to the US from India at the age of 12 — the age where she feels a need to become "white." She details her journey of code-switching, cultural appropriation, and the culture of Indian immigrant families all through her thoughtful writing style sprinkled with hints of humor. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here

8. Speak, Okinawa by Elizabeth Miki Brina

Cover of "Speak, Okinawa" by Elizabeth Miki Brina
Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

Elizabeth Miki Brina recollects her childhood through the experiences of having a war bride mother and Vietnam War veteran father. She grew up in a predominantly white community, due to the power imbalance of her parents. As a result, she had a typical American childhood and adolescent experience, yet she describes the disconnection to this fully American culture. Brina describes the dynamics of her family and her journey of finding her true identity. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

9. Tastes Like War by Grace M. Cho

Cover of "Tastes Like War" by Grace M. Cho
The Feminist Press / Via feministpress.org

Tastes Like War is an especially interesting memoir because it's divided into two sections: a part about the significance of food and the exploration of culture. Cho details both of these sections through the experiences of her mother's schizophrenia — an aspect of her life that's carried with her through Cho's search for her identity. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

10. In Order to Live by Yeonmi Park

Cover of "In Order to Live" by Yeonmi Park
Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

As someone who is South Korean, this memoir was such an eye-opening book for me to learn more about my fellow Koreans. In Order to Live describes Yeonmi Park's journey in escaping North Korea through the dangers of smuggling through China, crossing the Gobi desert, traveling through Mongolia, and then finally arriving in South Korea. It's a harrowing memoir that will leave you equal parts inspired and in awe.

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

11. Eat a Peach by David Chang

Cover of "Eat a Peach" by David Chang
Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

The host of the Netflix Original documentary Ugly Delicious is back with his memoir, Eat a Peach. This memoir details Chang's journey of being a culinary chef through his experiences of abandonment and loneliness in his Korean immigrant family. It's a behind-the-scenes book into Chang's psyche of tenacity, anxiety, and candidness. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

12. All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

Cover of "All You Can Ever Know" by Nicole Chung
Catapult / Via books.catapult.co

Nicole Chung is a Korean adoptee who grew up in a white family in the US. In All You Can Ever Know, Chung describes the journey of finding her birth parents, stumbling on her family history and secrets along the way. It's a candid memoir about finding her place in the world and discovering her own identity. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

13. What We Carry by Maya Shanbhag Lang

Cover of "What We Carry" by Maya Shanbhag Lang
Penguin Random House / Via penguinrandomhouse.com

For Maya Shanbhag Lang, her mother has been her idol since childhood and her constant source of support. But in one moment, that is all changed when she discovers that her mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. Lang's mother no longer remembers the stories she used to tell Lang when Lang was a child, but instead, remembers the secrets of her past. Upon uncovering these secrets, Lang is forced to re-examine their relationship and their story as immigrants from India. The memoir is a beautiful recollection of the burden women carry and how those connect us with our loved ones. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

14. Ma and Me by Putsata Reang

Cover of "Ma and Me" by Putsata Reang
Macmillan Publishers / Via us.macmillan.com

In Ma and Me, Putsata Reang explores the idea of filial duty and love through her own experiences as a lesbian Cambodian daughter. She details her own life in emigrating to the US from Cambodia in a time when war was rampant in her home country. Reang's whole life was to repay her mother for her efforts in creating a life for them. But, their bond takes a turn when Reang comes out as a lesbian and gets married to a woman. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

15. The Magical Language of Others by E.J. Koh

Cover of "The Magical Language of Others" by E.J. Koh
Tin House / Via tinhouse.com

E.J. Koh's memoir, The Magical Language of Others, traces the importance of language in love through her family history. When Koh's parents return to South Korea for work, Koh is thrust into this world without her mother overnight. This memoir is about Koh's journey in acceptance, understanding, and love in a culture where language often shapes our identity. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.

16. The Body Papers by Grace Talusan

Cover of "The Body Papers" by Grace Talusan
Restless Books / Via restlessbooks.org

For Grace Talusan, stories are a way to restore her spirit of life, and they have been for generations. It is from these stories and the legacies that remain that allow her to continue living, despite abuse, trauma, and cancer. In The Body Papers, Talusan gives hope to those living in their darkest times by speaking about her own story. 

Get it from Bookshop or from your local indie bookstore via Indiebound here. You can also try the audiobook version through Libro.fm.