Our Favorite AAPI Authors Recommend 12 Must-Read Books

Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage month might be over, but that doesn’t mean you can’t continue to celebrate, read and boost AAPI voices. We asked some of our favorite AAPI authors about what books they would recommend for AAPI month and all year round. The resulting list overflows with heartwarming, fun, and diverse stories that showcase a wide range of cultures and experiences. These books will encourage you to go place a hold at your local library or order from your local bookstore! Happy reading!

Quill Tree Books

In honor of AAPI month, I would love to recommend Clues to the Universe by Christina Li, which is a middle-grade novel that follows Ro and Benji. It’s a heartwarming story that navigates grief with a focus on friendship, and it’ll make you smile, laugh, and cry. I can’t praise it enough! — Tashie Bhuiyan, author of Counting Down To You

Rick Riordan Presents

Witches are making a comeback. In The Last Fallen Star, a secret society of Korean witch clans live in modern day Los Angeles. We follow Riley, a 12-year-old girl born without powers, on a quest to find her sister after a spell goes wrong, threatening the whole community. The story is full of magic; one that beautifully blends Korean mythology and culture. It’s also an emotional ride, so you might shed some tears along the way. You need this book! — Dustin Thao, author of You’ve Reached Sam

Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

I’d love to recommend Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe. This charming middle grade fantasy is the book equivalent of curling up next to a fireplace with a mug of hot tea. It’s a transportive, whimsical story about a young witch in training, fighting to keep her magic. And even better—the magic continues in the upcoming sequel, Eva Evergreen and the Cursed Witch! — Sarah Suk, author of Made in Korea

HMH Books for Young Readers

Traci Chee does an amazing job creating the experience of being Japanese in America during WWII in We Are Not Free. Through fourteen distinct teenage perspectives, Chee summons up all the heartbreak and outrage of being evacuated from your home and forced into internment camps. She conjures the sights, smells and sounds of living in makeshift barracks, and makes you feel the pain of living in a country that no longer wants you. Masterful storytelling. — James Sie, author of All Kinds of Other

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Severance by Ling Ma changed my life, and it will always be my go-to when recommending a book that not only adds so much value to Asian diaspora literature, but to good literature in general. It touches larger U.S.-China relations, but also the human side of survival and coming-into-adulthood. — Chloe Gong, author of These Violent Delights

Harper Perennial

Kiss and Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0-22 by Mari Naomi: Sex is weird and growing up is complicated. Mari Naomi does a beautiful job of baring the awkwardness and profundity that the kissing and groping and making mistakes our adolescence provide. Messy, and candid, reading this book feels like taking a sanctioned peek into your best friend’s diary. — Maggie Tokuda-Hall, author of Squad

Point / Inkyard Press / Harper Voyager

K-Pop Confidential by Stephan Lee is a must-read for K-pop fans—it’s joyful and hilarious and heartwarming, and so relatable for Asian Americans. The sequel K-Pop Revolution releases in April 2022. Counting Down With You by Tashie Bhuiyan is a touching rom-com debut that will make readers laugh and cry, often on the same page. The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang is an adult grimdark fantasy trilogy that I will always highly recommend as a masterclass in character study and worldbuilding, not to mention its brilliant analysis of 20th century Chinese history. — Katie Zhao, author of How We Fall Apart



We Belong by Cookie Hiponia Everman is an astonishing debut. It’s unlike any other book on my shelf. Stella and Luna, first-generation American sisters, ask their mother, Elsie, to tell them a story. She tells them two: one about her childhood in the Philippines and another about the mythical daughter of a god. This dramatic novel weaves verse and illustration to celebrate sisterhood, the immigrant experience, and the bond between mothers and daughters. It’s absolutely beautiful. — Erin Entrada Kelly, author of Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey

Greenwillow Books

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig: Nix has sailed across the centuries alongside her time traveling father, who has never recovered from the death of Nix’s mother. When a map from 1868 Honolulu surfaces, it gives him a chance to turn back time and save her life. But his obsession will put Nix-her past, present, and future-at risk. This book has all the good stuff: science fiction, fantasy, Hawaiian mythology… and a sequel. Be sure to check out The Ship Beyond Time. — Makiia Lucier, author of Year of the Reaper

Quill Tree Books

Red, White and Whole is a beautiful heartbreaking and heartwarming story. I LOVED so many different parts. The way Rajani described mustard seeds and cooking was phenomenal as well as the way she described and broke down blood cells that connected to the title. I connected with the way Rajani identified with her Indian identity and her American identity. I loved how Rajani zoomed into the teenage moments making them universal for all. Reha is a character that I resonated with deeply and fell in love with her from the first page. I also adored the relationship and the way her parents are described. I admired the way Reha spoke about her faith and wove it throughout the story. This is a gorgeous story about heroism, faith, and love. — Reem Faruqi, author of Unsettled



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