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  • Isabella Keroglyan

Must Read Books for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

In 1992, the month of May was officially declared as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the US. Since then, each May has brought on a time to honor and celebrate the many contributions and achievements that Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders have made in our history. One fun way to take part in this celebration is to explore the various cultures and stories within the AANHPI community through books written by AANHPI-identifying authors! So, as we enjoy the warm weather of May, I say it's time to take a break from the chaos of life and relax with one or more of the good books below!

If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha

Five young women—Kyuri, Ara, Sujin, Miho, and Wonna—live in the same apartment complex in Seoul, South Korea. Together, they navigate life, confronting the

pressures of impossibly high beauty standards, strict social hierarchies, and patriarchy while finding comfort in each other.

Disorientation by Elaine Hsieh Chou

One day, Ingrid Yang, a Taiwanese-American PhD student, discovers a mysterious note that completely changes her life. Before, she was just a student trying to finish her dissertation and graduate. Now, she's caught in a series of crazy events that test her relationships, who she is, and where she fits in the world.

This Is Paradise by Kristiana Kahakauwila

Through a collection of stories set across the islands of Maui, Oahu, Kaua'i, and the Big Island, Kahakauwila explores the complicated relationships between locals and tourists, ideas of tradition and modernity, and the search for what is authentic in our superficial world. From the world of cockfighting in "Wanle" to the dark side of the city's nightlife in the title story, each story offers a unique perspective on life in Hawaii.

Iep Jaltok: Poems From a Marshallese Daughter by Kathy Jetn̄ il-Kijiner

A collection of poems inspired by the author's experiences that allow readers to take a look into Marshallese life. While the poems cover events such as the nuclear testing that took place in the Marshall Islands and the current and future impact of climate change, they highlight the traumas of colonialism, racism, and forced migration Marshallese individuals are subjected to.

Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang

A look into the elite and beauty-obsessed world of New York City through the eyes of a young second-generation Chinese-American woman. As the timeline shifts between her childhood as a piano prodigy and the present where she starts her new job at a famous beauty company, she begins discovering more about her self-worth, identity, and the dark side of consumerism, finding social issues like classism, racism, and sexism within.

Welcome Me to the Kingdom: Stories by Mai Nardone

This collection of short stories features the lives of several characters within the same family and friend circle as they live through the decades in Bangkok. While the characters resort to various tactics to lie and seduce their way toward what they believe is a "good" life, these stories explore heavy themes, revealing the brutal realities of life in Thailand.

Late Bloomers by Deepa Varadarajan

Through a witty tone, the lives of an Indian-American family change drastically after the parents decide to end their thirty-six year long arranged marriage. Following the parents' decision, the family members begin a journey of discovery, where their secrets become revealed, love and loyalty are tested, and new beginnings take place.

Night Sky With Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

This collection of poems, heavily focused on themes of identity, trauma, resilience, and family, invites readers into the ultra-raw and beautiful experiences of being human. Each poem features the topic of dealing with love and loss, allowing readers to see the beauty and cruelty of life with a new sense of empathy and understanding.

Monstress: Stories by Lysley Tenorio

This collection of short stories, set in the Philippines and within the Filipino community in California, explores topics on the loss of identity, isolation, and the importance of

close connections. The collection features unforgettable characters from stories that follow characters as they deal with the challenges of living a life away from their homeland to characters who struggle to balance between their cultural/family expectations and their own desires.


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