Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders – Books for Adults

By Doug J. & Isaac R.
May 19, 2022

Here is a selection of outstanding recent books representing the history and culture of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI).

Click on any book cover to go to the catalog to find books, ebooks & audiobooks, and to place holds.


Speak, Okinawa by Elizabeth Miki Brina

An American woman whose parents met in U.S.-occupied Okinawa, her mother a war bride, her father a Vietnam veteran, describes the complicated, embattled dynamics of her family and the feelings of shame and self-loathing that plagued her cultural heritage. 

The Loneliest Americans by Jay Caspian Kang

Kang shares his own family’s story as it unfolds against the backdrop of a rapidly expanding Asian America in this riveting blend of history and original reportage. He explores—and reimagines—Asian American identity in a black and white world. 

Time is a Mother by Ocean Vuong 

In this deeply intimate second poetry collection, Ocean Vuong searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother’s death, embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it. Bold and prescient, and a testament to tenderness in the face of violence, this is a return and a forging forth all at once. 

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner 

The Japanese Breakfast indie pop star presents a full-length account of her viral New Yorker essay to share poignant reflections on her experiences of growing up Korean-American, becoming a professional musician and caring for her terminally ill mother. 

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung 

Nicole Chung was born severely premature, placed for adoption by her Korean parents, and raised by a white family in a sheltered Oregon town. From childhood, she heard the story of her adoption as a comforting, prepackaged myth. But as Nicole grew up she wondered if the story she’d been told was the whole truth. 

Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations by Mira Jacob

Like many six-year-olds, Mira Jacob’s half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, has questions about everything. At first, they are innocuous enough, but as tensions from the 2016 election spread from the media into their family, they become much, much more complicated. Trying to answer him honestly, Jacob thinks back to where she’s gotten her own answers: her most formative conversations about race, color, sexuality, and, of course, love. 

The Making of Asian America by Erika Lee

Describes the contributions of Asian immigrants in America and the lasting impact they have had, beginning with sailors who crossed the Pacific in the sixteenth century, through the ordeal of internment during World War II, and to their current status as “model minorities.” 

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui 

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves. 


Mother Ocean Father Nation by Nishant Batsha 

A riveting, tender debut novel, following a brother and sister whose paths diverge-one forced to leave, one left behind-in the wake of a nationalist coup in the South Pacific. 

Cyclopedia Exotica by Aminder Dhaliwal 

Doctor’s office waiting rooms, commercials, dog parks, and dating app screenshots capture the experiences and interior lives of the cyclops community in this graphic novel. Through this parallel universe, Dhaliwal comments on race, difference, beauty, and belonging, touching on these issues with her distinctive deadpan humor steeped in millennial references. 

Beasts of a Little Land by Juhea Kim 

After her desperate family sells her to a courtesan school, Jade befriends JungHo, an orphan boy begging on the streets of Seoul, and must decide to pursue her dreams or risk everything in the fight for independence. Author Juhea Kim lives in Portland. 

Afterparties by Anthony Veasna So 

Short stories that portray of the lives of Cambodian-Americans still dealing with the inherited weight of the Khmer Rouge genocide including a young, disillusioned teacher obsessed with Moby-Dick and a child whose mother survived a school shooting.