Readers Say

These 21 books are the best by AAPI authors, according to readers

Add one of these reader-favorite books by Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander writers to your reading list.

Readers share their favorite books by Asian and AAPI authors.

This Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month,’s Book Club is celebrating the great works by writers across Asian diasporas.

For our May book pick, we’re reading ‘A Scatter of Light’ by Malinda Lo, a novel that explores queer, Chinese American identities in the Bay Area. In addition to joining the Book Club for a virtual author talk on May 30, Lo was one of the many authors named by readers as the best in Asian American literature.

We asked readers to share their favorite works by Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander authors and they shared poetry, fiction, and nonfiction that entertained them, affirmed them, and gave them a greater glimpse into AAPI identities. 


Below you’ll find a list of coming-of-age novels, cookbooks, historical fiction, and more that readers said they love. Plus, a survey for you to make your own recommendations for this book guide. 


“Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold” by Dorothy Chan

“A book I return to again and again. The poems explore a range of topics from food to sexuality to Chinese-American identity, tying together historical events, personal memories, fantasy, and nightmares. The poems are thought-provoking, hopeful, fearful, empowering, fun, hungry, and teeming with energy and imagery. In what other book can you find chrysanthemum jelly, red stockings, tequila, sushi hotdogs, and ‘the first-ever-Double-Z-cup-bra’?” — M, Dorchester

Children’s Books

“Naomi’s Road” by Joy Kogawa

This critically acclaimed 1986 book tells the story of Japanese internment camps through the eyes of a young girl sent to a camp in British Columbia. The story follows Naomi as she’s separated from her mother and makes sense of World War II.

“The Sound of Silence” by Katrina Goldsaito, illustrated by Julia Kuo

“It’s a beautiful story and picture book for children of all ages that speaks to the profound nature of peace and silence in our lives. The story follows the search for silence by little Yoshio.” — Dorcas G., Jamaica Plain


“Babel” by R.F. Kuang

Fantasy fans will love “Babel,” a historical fantasy epic set at Oxford University’s prestigious Royal Institute of Translation, where the book’s protagonist is training in magic that may be of use when it comes time to stop Britain from waging a war with China over silver and opium.

“Crazy Rich Asians” by Kevin Kwan

“This series was amazing! Sometimes you really just want to live in a fabulously rich fantasy world full of drama for a day or two, and that is exactly where this book takes you. I loved the characters, the setting, the language lessons. The descriptions of everything, from clothing to food, were the perfect amount of detail to give you the visual but not take away from the action. The entire trilogy keeps you laughing the whole way through. I originally borrowed these from the library but went out and bought them afterward because I know I will read them again and again.” — Becca B., Topsfield

“Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng

In this debut novel, a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio has their life thrown into chaos when their beloved daughter is found dead in the local lake.

“Interior Chinatown” by Charles Yu

“A different sort of narrative structure, much humor, and provocative things to say about what it means to straddle multiple cultures and family units.” — Jack F., Newton Upper Falls

“Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo

“Though young adult and set during the Red Scare, this book tackles timeless, heavy, vital themes including race and racism, immigration and citizenship, class and classism, politics, PTSD, queerness, and internalized homophobia. Complex and written with love, this book tells the story of a young Asian-American lesbian in the 50s. It’s an extensively researched fictionalization of a marginalized population’s largely unrecorded history. I felt seen and connected to my predecessors in reading this. A vital story for everyone, but especially coming-of-age queer Asian Americans.” — Max L., Somerville

“Little Fires Everywhere” by Celeste Ng

“Totally engrossing. A sensitive exploration of race and class.” — Paula S., Randolph

“My Year of Meats” by Ruth L. Ozeki

This novel takes readers to Japan, where Asian American protagonist Jane moves for a job producing a Japanese television show. While there, her path crosses with Akiko, a housewife struggling to survive in her overbearing marriage.

“Norwegian Wood” by Haruki Murakami

This reader-recommended novel is a story of a hopeless first love. Set in 1960s Japan, the story follows Toru, a young college student in Tokyo, as he finds love after the death of his childhood best friend. 

“On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” by Ocean Vuong

Poet and author Ocean Vuong wrote his debut novel in the form of letters from the protagonist to his mother. The letters trace their family history in Vietnam and explores race, class, and masculinity.

“Pachinko” by Min Jin Lee

This historical fiction is set in early 1900s Korea, where a beautiful young woman is seduced and impregnated by a wealthy stranger. When she discovers that her new lover is married, she decides to accept another marriage proposal and leave her home for Japan.

“The Bone People” by Keri Hulme

“It’s full of interesting characters, it’s written in an atypical form, and it’s just beautiful.” — Lori W.

“The Fortunes of Jaded Women” by Carolyn Huynh

“You must listen to the audiobook of The Fortunes of Jaded Women. The audiobook is read by Vyvy Nguyen and it is absolutely hilarious and delightful. The voices of three generations of Vietnamese American women are spot-on accurate — from the matriarch to the Gen Z teens — [and reflect] their ages, subcultures, and unique personalities. It was also nice to hear the correct pronunciation of the Vietnamese names and terms.” — Ruth S., Royalston

“The Love Match” by Priyanka Taslim

“I am also Bangladeshi-American and have never felt more seen by a book than when I read it a few months ago. I used to live in Jersey City not too far from the setting in a neighborhood not that different from Patterson but moved to Boston for school. Massachusetts also has a big Bengali diaspora but there aren’t many (or any that I can think of) books about this cultural background even though we are among the largest growing Asian diaspora populations. This book has Bengali food and melas and an adorable love story.” — Farzana A., South End

“When the Elephants Dance” by Tess Uriza Holthe

This book, written by a Filipina author, tells an epic story about a family and their neighbors who band together to survive the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II. While the book is a work of fiction, Holthe was inspired by the experiences of her father, who was a young boy in the Philippines during the years depicted in the novel.

“Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers” by Lois-Ann Yamanaka

“The author manages to capture all the universal angst of adolescence and the unique challenges of growing up in the small town of Hilo, Hawaii. The voices are authentic right down the pidgin English.” — Chris, Natick


“Beautiful Country” by Qian Julie Wang

“I’m Filipino American and I love reading immigrant stories. ‘Beautiful Country’ is powerful, humbling, and emotional.” — Alyanna T., Quincy

“Double Awesome Chinese Food” by Margaret Li, Irene Li, and Andrew Li

“Cookbook from the Asian American family [behind Mei Mei Restaurant and Street Kitchen] in Boston. Fun and family-friendly for cooking in your kitchen.” — Pat, Brookline

“The Woman Warrior” by Maxine Hong Kingston

“This book by Maxine Hong Kingston is a great account of blending Asian and American culture. I read it in an American Studies class at Yale in the 1980s but it is a book for the ages!” — Amy D., Brookline

Book Club’s next read is ‘A Scatter of Light’ by Malinda Lo

Join the live virtual author discussion with Kimi Loughlin, manager of Buttonwood Books and Toys, on May 30, at 6 p.m.