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Read Harder

6 AAPI Books to Read for AAPI Heritage Month and the Read Harder Challenge

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Danika Ellis

Associate Editor

Danika spends most of her time talking about queer women books at the Lesbrary. Blog: The Lesbrary Twitter: @DanikaEllis

May is Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month! This is a great opportunity to add books by AAPI authors to your TBR and promote the AAPI authors you’ve already read and loved. Book Riot has a bunch of lists recommending books by Asian American and Pacific Islander authors to read in May — and all year long — but because this is the Read Harder column, I wanted to shout out some books by AAPI authors that also check off tasks from the 2024 Read Harder Challenge.

Some of the books already recommended for Read Harder tasks are by AAPI authors, so I’ve gathered those together at the end, but I also wanted to add six more to your TBR, most of them for tasks I haven’t given out recommendations for. If you want to narrow it down, task #4: Read a history book by a BIPOC author, and task #7: Read an indie published collection of poetry by a BIPOC or queer author, are both ones that are easy to find a ton of books by AAPI authors that will complete them.

Without further ado, here are six books by AAPI authors that complete 2024 Read Harder Challenge tasks.

A graphic of the cover of Iep Jāltok

Iep Jāltok by Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner

Task #7: Read an indie published collection of poetry by a BIPOC or queer author.

Books by Pacific Islanders are often harder to find, so I wanted to highlight this poetry collection from a Marshallese poet and activist. Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner’s work explores Marshallese tradition and culture, the ongoing effects of colonialism, the impact of American nuclear testing, and the threat of climate change on the islands.

the magic fish book cover

The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen

Task #13: Read a comic that has been banned.

Trung Le Nguyen won my heart with their tweet, “People wanna ban my book for only gay reasons, nobody ever ever mentions the cannibalism 😔” The Magic Fish was banned in several school districts in 2021 for having LGBTQ content. It follows Tien as he bonds with his mother and helps her learn English by reading fairy tales with her. As her English approves, Tien struggles to find the words to come out to her. (The cannibalism is just mentioned in one of the fairy tales, in case that scared you off…)

Who are some of your favorite Asian American and Pacific Islander authors? Let’s chat in the comments!

Find all the previous 2024 Read Harder posts here.

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