May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and this year we’re fortunate to be partnering again with our friends at APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon) to share a curated reading list. APANO is a statewide, grassroots organization, uniting Asians and Pacific Islanders to achieve social justice and find solutions to the disproportionate gaps in education, health, and economic prosperity that Asian and Pacific Islander communities often face.
APANO is led and staffed by a dynamic group of community experts, seasoned advocates, and volunteers and the books they share below are as impassioned, riveting, and diverse as the individuals that comprise APANO and the families and communities the organization is dedicated to serving.
Amy Tan is a wonderful storyteller, and this book is a beautiful exploration of family, loyalty, adventure, spirit, immigration, and strong Chinese women. This is a classic that everyone should read. — Bea Yeh Ogden, APANO Community Space and Event Manager
Chu T'ien-wen crafts a poetic exploration of LGBTQ+ culture in contemporary Taiwan: often heartbreaking, sometimes humorous, always captivating. Considered one of the most important contemporary Taiwanese novels: a must-read. — Bea Yeh Ogden
Dive into Filipino folklore mixed with modern storytelling in this comic book, soon to be on Netflix as an animated series. — Oliver Evangelista, Arts and Media Project (AMP) Member
Disappear is a brilliant take on identity, Asian invisibility, and adoption. This is not a typical "straddle two cultures" narrative. It follows a character who literally exists in two worlds, moving back and forth between parallel universes. It's smart, strange, uncomfortable, beautiful, and laugh-out-loud funny at moments. — Joon Ae Haworth-Kaufka, Arts and Media Project (AMP) Member
This is a heartbreaking page-turner about an elderly mother from rural Korea who gets lost and disappears in Seoul. The novel explores the idea of memory, maternal love and sacrifice, and rural/urban and generational divides in changing Korea. — Joon Ae Haworth-Kaufka
These Buddhist teachings are for the beginner as much as they are for the lifelong Buddhist practitioner, for the nonbeliever as much as for the believer. Where other translations of The Dhammapada feel spiritually obtuse, Easwaran's clear and lyrical prose makes this collection of the Buddha's teachings accessible and highly enjoyable to read. This text has grounded me in any otherwise untenable world full of global suffering and perpetual social injustices. On page 150: "Why is there laughter, why merriment, when the world is on fire? When you are living in darkness, why don't you look for light?" It is through acceptance — not complacency or inaction — that we find liberation. — Jenny M. Chu, Arts and Media Project (AMP) Member
A beautiful book about the complexities of family, navigating identity as an immigrant, living in your motherland, and the ways we carry our traumas with us. This book will break your heart and mend it back together. — Misha, APANO Staff
Tells the story of a queer Pinoy who immigrates to New York in the 1990s. This poetry book brilliantly explores identity, family, and the ways in which language flows through us. — Misha
Editor's note: This title is currently unavailable.
These autobiographical pieces by the Quimpo family, covering the martial law years under the Marcos dictatorship as well as before and after, weave long decades of struggle to constitute a gripping memoir. — Jake E. Vermaas, Arts and Media Project (AMP) Member/Volunteer
Join spaceboy as these poems walk untethered in the expanse, then find their way back home again, deftly skirting the boundary conditions between longing, science, the body’s waterways, and the abyss of space. — Jake E. Vermaas
It's the most beautifully written, heart-crushing, honest love letter (to his mother) that I have ever read. A deeply personal immigrant story of survival and trauma. — Jodi Kim, Communications Coordinator
I have never felt more seen or heard after reading a book. As a Korean American adoptee, Chung's memoir is incredibly important work. The validation, support, and introspection that it provides is invaluable. — Jodi Kim