Books to Deepen Your Understanding of AAPI Experiences
If these books aren’t already on your to-read list, they should be! This AAPI Heritage Month, we urge you to deepen your understanding of Asian American identity through reading about the triumphs, challenges, and questions these authors face as they tell their stories. They generously share their experiences through memoir, nonfiction, and poetry and through their writing, and create containers to learn and process complex ideas about identity, racial consciousness, cultural history, and what it will take to create a better future.
In addition to spending time on your own reading, we urge you to connect with AAPI artists, activists, and community organizers at several upcoming local events that will celebrate Asian American communities in Boston and the greater Commonwealth of Massachusetts and galvanize the change that is needed to #StopAsianHate.
Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning
By Cathy Park Hong
With sharp observations about her own experiences with racial consciousness as a Korean-American woman, Cathy Park Hong critiques the systems and elements of American culture that allow myths and prejudices about Asian-American life to be upheld. This book of essays span a larger quest for the truth as the author analyzes themes of friendship, professional life, family, and individuality.
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities
By Chen Chen
Poet and essayist Chen Chen, who also teaches at Brandeis University, investigates how many different types of love impact us throughout our lives. From Asian American, immigrant, and queer perspectives, these poems offer wisdoms about and odes to the everyday aspects of relationships and the connections we make, coming from our own personal backstories.
Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight to Fit In
By Phuc Tran
This book weaves through the themes and stories of classic books, music, and 1980’s pop culture as author Phuc Tran describes his journey to embracing his identity as a Vietnamese immigrant to America. Against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, this memoir shows the importance of art as a tool for processing essential truths about oneself and the cultures that we find ourselves a part of.
Not Quite Not White
By Sharmila Sen
Winner of the ALA Asian/Pacific American Award for Nonfiction, this rousing book grapples with questions of identity and directly confronts the systems of American culture that favor whiteness. Starting in her childhood as an Indian-American rejecting how she felt perceived as “not ____ enough” in most situations, Sen asks readers to see through it all and take up the charge in embracing how so much of American society’s heartbeat comes from non-white experiences.
Good Talk: A Memoir in Conversations
By Mira Jacob
Good Talk is a love-letter to conversations and relationships, as author Mira Jacob recounts interactions with her half-Jewish, half-Indian son, Z, as he starts to grapple with questions about race, color, sexuality and everything else a 6-year-old could possbily want to know. This book unpacks the imprortance of honesty and transpacency within families, and the impressions we leave on children in their formative years.
By Meredith Talusan
Award-winning author and journalist Meredith Talusan describes her journey as a transgender Filipino-American with albinism. From her childhood as an immigrant to uncovering the illusions of race, disability, gender, and sexuality later on as a student at Harvard University, this coming-of-age memoir will shift your thinking on what it means to be perceived and to perceive others.
All You Can Ever Know
By Nicole Chung
In her captivating memoir, Nicole Chung describes her childhood growing up as the adopted daughter of white parents in suburban Oregon. In searching more a deeper connection with her Korean roots, Chung also comes to understand more about the racism and types of prejudices that her white family would never face. This book is a helpful read to learn more about transracial adoption, and to meditate on the themes of identity and belonging.
Elena Morris (she/her/hers) is ArtsBoston’s Community Outreach and Marketing Manager. She is a dramaturg and arts administrator passionate about forward-thinking in the arts. Elena holds a BFA in Theatre Arts from Boston University, focusing her studies on dramatic literature and movement.