Celebrate AAPI Month With These 12 Must-Read Books Written by AAPI Authors

Photo: W+G Creative
With the Well+Good SHOP, our editors put their years of know-how to work in order to pick products (from skin care to self care and beyond) they’re betting you’ll love. While our editors independently select these products, making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission. Happy shopping! Explore the SHOP

Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) month—which commences on the first of May each year—is all about celebrating and learning about the rich history, culture, and people of the Asian diaspora. From Yayoi Kusama's collaboration with Louis Vuitton to Everything Everywhere All at Once's sweeping wins across multiple categories this year at various esteemed awards shows, AAPI people have undoubtedly contributed to the creative fields while trailblazing for AAPI community. While more representation is still needed across film, music, and art, reading books written by AAPI authors is one great way to support and learn more.

Experts In This Article

"It's important to support and read books written by AAPI authors because it amplifies their voices and experiences, which may be different from ones we have been taught in school or exposed to in the media," says Magdalene Lim, a bookseller at Yu and Me Books. The bookstore, which opened in December of 2021 and became New York's first Asian-American, woman-owned bookstore, became a space to share immigrant stories while bringing visibility to AAPI authors. By reading books by AAPI authors, "it also helps to challenge the dominant narratives that have been perpetuated in literature and media for so long."

From memoirs that explore themes of family, love, and community to thrilling fiction, these impassioned books help us learn and connect with each other. Without further ado, go check out these stand-out reads.

"Who Is Wellness For" by Fariha Róisín — $19.00

What it’s about:

In Who Is Wellness For (published in 2022) Fariha Róisín investigates the commodification and appropriation of wellness, while examining her own journey. Part-memoir, Róisín also details her journey of gender dysmorphia, fatphobia, and chronic illness. Who Is Wellness For confronts the imbalances in health, healing, and provides a path forward that is inclusive for all.

Who is Fariha Róisín?

Based in Ontario, Canada, Fariha Róisín is a Muslim queer Bangladeshi artist. Her work expands across disciplines, from writing to poetry, and her work catalyzes conversations about wellness, queer identity, and contemporary Islam.

"Beautiful Country" by Qian Julie Wang — $13.00

What it’s about:

A New York Times bestseller, Beautiful Country (published in 2021) portrays a vivid account of Qian Julie Wang’s experience living in America as an undocumented child, helping her family navigate through the health-care system, and coming of age in one of the richest countries in the world while living in poverty. It’s a story about resilience, hardship, and the immigrant experience.

Who is Qian Julie Wang?

Beyond being a New York Times bestselling author, Qian Julie Wang is a civil rights litigator and managing partner at Gottlieb & Wang, LLP. Her writing and litigation work centers around advocating for historically excluded communities.

"All My Rage" by Sabaa Tahir — $10.00

What it’s about:

In this novel (published in 2022), Sabaa Tahir writes a profound and emotionally moving story about three main characters: Misbah, Salahudin, and Noor. Misbah is an immigrant struggling to run her motel business; Salahudin is Misbah’s son and is trying to fit in during his last year of high school; Noor, Salahudin’s best friend, wants to desperately go to college to leave her small town. Their stories are beautifully woven together to tell a story about truth, forgiveness, and love in the Pakistani community.

Who is Sabaa Tahir?

Sabaa Tahir is a Pakistani American author and novelist based in San Francisco. She’s best known for her New York Times bestselling book An Ember in the Ashes. In 2022, she won the National Book Award for All of My Rage.

"Crying in H Mart" by Michelle Zauner — $25.00

What it’s about:

Crying in H Mart (published in 2021) is a tear-jerking memoir about musician Michelle Zauner’s journey with grief, food, and love. After losing her mother to cancer, Zauner reckons with her Korean identity, upbringing in Eugene, Oregon, and finds a way to reclaim her identity through memories of her mom, cooking, and heaping plates of food.

Who is Michelle Zauner?

Beyond her beautiful and vulnerable writing, Michelle Zauner hits her notes as the lead vocalist of the alternative pop band Japanese Breakfast. Identifying as a Korean American, Zauner was raised in Eugene, Oregon where she grew her love for all things music. The musician ballooned to fame after her 2016 hit album “Psychopomp.”

"The Making of Asian America" by Erika Lee — $15.00

What it’s about:

A historical account of the past 50 years, The Making of Asian America (published in 2016) shows how generations of Asian immigrants and American-born descendants have shaped the history of the nation, from community activism to the struggle of overcoming racism. This book brings the histories of Asian people in the United States to the forefront.

Who is Erika Lee?

Lee is an award-winning historian and author, and serves as the director of Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. When she’s not teaching, she testifying before Congress about anti-Asian discrimination and violence.

"Arsenic and Adobo" by Mia P. Manansala — $16.00

What it’s about:

In the middle of a horrible breakup, Lila Macapagal moves back home to save her auntie’s failing restaurant. But when a nasty food critic, who happens to be Lila’s ex-boyfriend, drops dead after a confrontation with Lila, Lila’s life is quickly thrown for a swerve. Left with no choice, Lila has to investigate the death on her own. Mia P. Manansala marries a story of humor, mystery, and thrills onto the chopping block of this novel (published in 2021).

Who is Mia P. Manansala?

Hailing from the 312, aka Chicago, Manansala is a writer and book coach who turned her love for baking into words. Her work encompasses themes of Filipino identity, pop culture, and queerness. Outside writing, Manansala is a pet mom to two doggies: Gumiho and Max Power.

"Have You Eaten Yet?" by Cheuk Kwan — $24.00

What it’s about:

For decades, Chinese restaurants across the globe have been the epicenter of community, immigration, and of course, delicious food. In Cheuk Kwan’s book (published in January, 2023), he brings the personal stories of chefs, entrepreneurs, and dreamers across the globe to life in this travelogue. Kwan reminds us that behind every meal, there’s always a backstory.

Who is Cheuk Kwan?

Born and raised in Hong Kong, Cheuk Kwan now resides in Toronto and serves as the co-founder of The Asianadian, a magazine dedicated to advancing the understanding of art, politics, and culture of the Asian Canadian community. When he’s not publishing content, he’s sharing his love for travel and Chinese culture through cinema.

"Stay True" by Hua Hsu — $24.00

What it’s about:

If you’re looking for a gripping memoir to read, Stay True (published in 2022) is a story about friendship, grief, and the search of self and solace through art. When Ken, who befriends Hsu, is tragically killed in a carjacking, Hsu tries to make sense of his life and embraces his search for meaning and belonging.

Who is Hua Hsu?

Based in the Big Apple, Hsu is a writer and professor of English at Bard College. His investigative work explores topics of immigrant culture in the United States as well as perceptions of diversity and multiculturalism. He’s also a staff writer at The New Yorker, where he’s served as a contributor since 2014.

"I Want To Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki" by Baek Sehee — $22.00

What it’s about:

Using reflective micro-essays, Baek Sehee shares her intimate conversations with her psychiatrist in this part memoir, part self-help book (published in 2022). She unveils her behaviors and thoughts that kept her in a viscous cycle of harmful behaviors. For anyone who has felt alone or struggled with hopelessness, this is a book you’ll want to keep on your bookshelf to come back to over and over.

Who is Baek Sehee?

Sehee is a South Korean creative writer. After being diagnosed with dysthymia, which is persistent mild depression, Sehee began working on essays inspired by her therapy sessions. When she’s not writing, she loves to munch on tteokbokki, aka spicy rice cakes (yum).


"Halo Halo" by Justine Ramos — $14.00

What it’s about:

Halo Halo (published in 2021) by Justine Ramos is a poetic bite of history, identity, revolution, and food. Through slam style poetry, readers get a glimpse into Ramos’ navigation of her Philipinx identity and experience with immigration, juggling cultural identities, and holding onto her native tongue. Above the poetry, there’s an underlying message that revolution and growth are possible.

Who is Justine Ramos?

A first-generation Philipinx immigrant, Ramos is a poet, mentor, and award winner of LA’s Youth Poet Laureate Program. After finishing up her degree in English and global health from UCLA, she received her doctoral degree in occupational therapy at Tufts University. Her work explores the intersection of creativity and rehabilitative medicine.

"Rise" by Jeff Yang, Phil Yu, and Philip Wang — $27.00

What it’s about:

In this step-by-step book (published in 2022), Yang, Yu, and Wang chronicle how we arrived at today’s cultural representation of Asian Americans. Through interactive infographics, Rise uncovers historic Asian American landmarks, offers graphic essays from AAPI artists, and celebrates Asian American cultural icons. It’s a bustling celebration of and love letter to the AAPI community.

About the authors:

Jeff Yang is the founder of A Magazine and a contributing writer for CNN, Quartz, and Slate. He was the former Asian Pop columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Phil Yu is a Los Angeles-based founder and editor of an Asian American news and culture blog titled Angry Asian Man. His writing appears in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and more.

Co-founder of Wong Fu Productions, Phillip Wang channels his creative work through short films, music videos, and other content. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

"Yolk" by Mary HK Choi — $12.00

What it’s about:

This novel follows the tale of June and Jayne, two sisters who grew apart but were brought back together under less-than-ideal circumstances. When June is diagnosed with cancer, the two sisters must confront their differences. In Yolk (published in 2022), Choi explores themes of family, sisterhood, and the challenges of growing up.

Who is Mary H.K. Choi?

Choi is a New York Times bestselling author of three books: Emergency Contact, Permanent Record, and Yolk. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times, and GQ. Beyond the pen and paper, she is a podcaster for Hey, Cool Life! and Hey, Cool Job! She currently lives in Brooklyn, New York.

But wait, there's more!
Want to be the first to hear about the latest (and greatest) SHOP product drops, custom collections, discounts, and more? Sign up to have the intel delivered straight to your inbox.
Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

Loading More Posts...