Books about Immigration: 21 Inspiring Must-Reads | LIRS

10 Compelling Books to Read for AAPI Heritage Month

Check out our list of inspiring and insightful books about immigrant and American life by these stellar authors of Asian American and Pacific Islander descent. From historical nonfiction to Young Adult literature to must-read autobiographies, this list includes a book for all types of readers looking to explore AAPI authors. 

Books about Immigration from our Virtual Author Series

We interviewed the authors of each of the below books as part of our Virtual Book Series. Watch the free replay to learn more about their books, personal stories, and work! 

One Mighty and Irresistible Tide

Jia Lynn Yang
Jia Lynn Yang immigration book

Framed movingly by her own family’s story of immigration to America, Jia Lynn Yang’s book is a sweeping history of the twentieth-century battle to reform American immigration laws that set the stage for today’s roiling debates. A deeply researched and illuminating work of history, “One Mighty and Irresistible Tide” shows how Americans have strived and struggled to live up to the ideal of a home for the “huddled masses,” as promised in Emma Lazarus’s famous poem.

WATCH THE INTERVIEW

The Next Great Migration

Sonia Shah

Sonia Shah

Sonia Shah elegantly covers the science and history of migration in animals, plants, and humans. Far from being a disruptive behavior to be quelled at any cost, migration is an ancient and lifesaving response to environmental change, a biological imperative as necessary as breathing.

Conclusively tracking the history of misinformation from the 18th century through today’s anti-immigration policies, The Next Great Migration makes the case for a future in which migration is not a source of fear, but of hope.

WATCH THE INTERVIEW

Other Must-Reads by AAPI Authors

Everything I Never Told You

Celeste Ng

A profoundly moving story of family, history, and the meaning of home, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, exploring the divisions between cultures and the rifts within a family, and uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another. 

Dear America Notes of an Undocumented Citizen

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen

Jose Antonio Vargas

“This book is about lying and being forced to lie to get by; about passing as an American and as a contributing citizen; about families, keeping them together, and having to make new ones when you can’t. This book is about constantly hiding from the government and, in the process, hiding from ourselves.”

The Namesake

Jhumpa Rahiri

In The Namesake, Lahiri enriches the themes that made her collection an international bestseller: the immigrant experience, the clash of cultures, the conflicts of assimilation, and, most poignantly, the tangled ties between generations. Here again Lahiri displays her deft touch for the perfect detail — the fleeting moment, the turn of phrase — that opens whole worlds of emotion. 

The Language of Geckos

Gary Pak

The nine short stories in Language of the Geckos and Other Stories paint an array of locals caught up in failed dreams of financial success and romantic fulfillment. Many of these stories deal with issues particular to Native Hawaiian perspectives, while others take slice-of-life glimpses at characters alienated in the land of their birth. Pak’s sure narrative voice shifts deftly between his actors, shading the nuanced voices and interior lives of housewives, mechanics, cabdrivers, aging hippies, and desperate bargirls. 

American Born Chinese

Gene Luen Yang

All Jin Wang wants is to fit in. When his family moves to a new neighborhood, he suddenly finds that he’s the only Chinese American student at his school. Jocks and bullies pick on him constantly, and he has hardly any friends. Then, to make matters worse, he falls in love with an all-American girl… 

It's Not Like It's a Secret

Misa Sugiura

Sixteen-year-old Sana Kiyohara has too many secrets. Some are small, like how it bothers her when her friends don’t invite her to parties. Some are big, like that fact that her father may be having an affair. And then there’s the one that she can barely even admit to herself—the one about how she might have a crush on her best friend. 

Minor Feelings

Cathy Hong Park

Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose the truth of racialized consciousness in America. Binding these essays together is Hong’s theory of “minor feelings”… Hong uses her own story as a portal into a deeper examination of racial consciousness in America today. This book traces her relationship to the English language, to shame and depression, to poetry and artmaking, and to family and female friendship in a search to both uncover and speak the truth. 

The Sympathizer Viet Nguyen

The Sympathizer

Viet Thanh Nguyen

The narrator, a communist double agent, is a “man of two minds,” a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam. 

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