Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month Reading List Over the past year, stories surrounding Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been full of violence and grief — here are some reading recommendations that'll take you beyond just suffering.

Engaging with Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month: A reading list

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The uptick in anti-Asian hate during the pandemic has many Asian Americans worried and, in some cases, angry. But the threat of violence is not the only story Asian Americans are telling right now. There are many tales of joy, of confusion or relief.


As Asian Pacific American Heritage Month ends, we asked our NPR colleagues about their favorite books by AAPI authors, stories by and about Asians from across genres and experiences, starting with a collection of poetry.


SAM CAI, BYLINE: My name is Sam Cai, and I'm a news assistant at The Indicator From Planet Money. The book that I chose is a poetry collection by Chen Chen called "When I Grow Up I Want To Be A List Of Further Possibilities." The reason I chose this book is because of Chen Chen's almost magical ability to create images that are so vivid and surreal but also relatable, like a fearless mango. or a friendly tomato. I've been moving around a lot for the past two or three years, and it's not very conducive to having a lot of books, but this is the one volume that always comes with me everywhere I go.


MALAKA GHARIB, BYLINE: My name is Malaka Gharib, and I'm an editor on NPR's Science Desk. I'd like to recommend the book "Fe: A Traumatized Son's Graphic Memoir" by the Filipino American artist Bren Bataclan. He tells the story of his relationship with his mom, who was prone to hoarding, throwing tantrums and was struggling with undiagnosed mental illness. And it's about his earnest efforts to love her while trying to keep his family together. For Filipinos like me, Bren's relationship with his mom is highly relatable - that pressure to be deferential, respectful, feeling obligated to make them happy. But it's also relatable to anyone who has difficult parents. I love this book. It's a brilliant story of a mother and son. And I hope you read it.


JANET LEE, BYLINE: Hey, this is Janet from the TED Radio Hour podcast. The book I want to share with everyone is "How To Write An Autobiographical Novel" by Alexander Chee. It's a collection of personal essays. And a dear friend shared it with me when I hit a really hard writer's block, especially with writing anything about myself or writing for pleasure. My favorite piece is about the author's rose garden that reminded me of the little joys and the small things we take care of in life. There's also a literal list on how to write an autobiographical novel - surprise - and that showed me that writing about myself, as scary as it is, may not be too different from writing about every other story that's just as important about who I am and where I come from.

CHANG: That was NPR's Janet W. Lee, Malaka Gharib and Sam Cai. You can find a longer list of our colleagues' book recommendations at

CORNISH: We hope that's where you'll find your next favorite book for this month or any other.


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