Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

In May 1968, in an apartment in Berkeley California, two graduate students, Yuji Ichioka and Emma Gee, met to discuss the formation of a new activist organization composed of students of Asian descent. From these conversations emerged the Asian American Political Alliance and with it the first recorded use of the term Asian American. (For more information see, “Before,” Rise: A Pop History of Asian America.)    

Co-founders Victor Ichioka (l.), Yuji Ichioka (r.) and founding member Phil Nakamura (center) of the Asian American Political Alliance.

Since then, the term Asian American has been embraced by many communities in the US whose backgrounds are from East, Southeast, and South Asia. This includes countries such as China, India, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam among many others. The largest groups of Pacific Islanders are communities native to Hawaii, Guam, and Samoa.

This month, in honor of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AAPIHM), Emory Libraries takes this opportunity to recognize the contributions and experiences of Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans. We invite you to engage with the rich stories below. And don’t forget to visit out our Research Guide for Asian American Studies at Emory! (Note that the links here are for the Emory community to access these materials via the Emory Libraries, but members of the public can do a search for these items, including streaming films, through their local public library’s website.)


“Rise: A Pop History of Asian America from the Nineties to Now” by Jeff Yang

Instant New York Times Bestseller. “RISE is a love letter to and for Asian Americans–a vivid scrapbook of voices, emotions, and memories from an era in which our culture was forged and transformed, and a way to preserve both the headlines and the intimate conversations that have shaped our community into who we are today.” (Publisher description)


“Ma and Me: A Memoir” by Putsata Reang

Winner of the Pacific Northwest Book Award. “A nuanced mediation on love, identity, and belonging. This story of survival radiates with resilience and hope.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City” by Jane Wong

Winner of the Pacific Northwest Book Award. “A love letter to Atlantic City and the Asian American working class.” (Los Angeles Times)

“Year of the Tiger: An Activists Life” by Alice Wong

National Bestseller. “This groundbreaking memoir offers a glimpse into an activist’s journey to finding and cultivating community and the continued fight for disability justice, from the founder and director of the Disability Visibility Project.” (Publisher description)

“Beautiful Country: A Memoir of an Undocumented Childhood” by Qian Julie Wang

New York Times Bestseller. “The moving story of an undocumented child living in poverty in the richest country in the world—an incandescent debut from an astonishing new talent.” (Publisher description)

Poetry and fiction

“from unincorporated territory [amot]” by Craig Santos Perez

National Book Award Winner for Poetry. “This book is the fifth collection in Craig Santos Perez’s ongoing from unincorporated territory series about the history of his homeland, the western Pacific island of Guåhan (Guam), and the culture of his indigenous Chamoru people.”

“South to South: Writing South Asia in the American South” by Khem Aryal

“This anthology of eight short stories and eight narrative essays depicts diverse facets of the South Asian experience in the American South.” (Publisher description)

“Meet Us By the Roaring Sea” by Akil Kumarasamy

New York Times Editors’ Choice 2022. “In the near future, a young woman finds her mother’s body starfished on the kitchen floor in Queens and sets on a journey through language, archives, artificial intelligence, and TV for a way back into herself.” (Publisher description)


“My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India into a Southern Kitchen” by Asha Gomez

“My Two Souths takes you on a culinary journey with Chef Asha Gomez, from her small village in the Kerala region of southern India to her celebrated restaurants in Atlanta, and on into your kitchen.” (Publisher description)

“Cook Korean! A Comic Book with Recipes” by Robin Ha

New York Times Bestseller. “Fun to look at and easy to use, this unique combination of cookbook and graphic novel is the ideal introduction to cooking Korean cuisine at home.” (Publisher description)

Make it Japanese by Rie McClenny

A Best Cookbook of the Year by LA Times, NPR: “Make It Japanese reflects Rie McClenny journey from her birthplace of Japan to the United States and how she learned to cook heartfelt recipes from scratch, often using only ingredients from her local supermarket.” Publisher Description


“Asian Americans”

This series traces the story of Asian Americans, spanning 150 years of immigration, racial politics, and cultural innovation. It is a timely look at the role that Asian Americans have played in defining who we are as a nation. (Publisher description)

“Everything, Everywhere, All at Once”

A middle-aged Chinese immigrant is swept up into an insane adventure in which she alone can save existence by exploring other universes and connecting with the lives she could have led. (Publisher description)


“A Korean American family moves to an Arkansas farm in search of its own American dream. Amidst the challenges of new life in the strange and rugged Ozarks, they discover the undeniable resilience of family and what really makes a home.” (Publisher description)

Want more book suggestions? Visit the Asian American Writers Workshop for information on recently released works of fiction, poetry, and more. And please visit these past blog posts for additional recommendations.

Do you have a book suggestion for the Woodruff Library? Contact your subject librarian!

—by Erica Bruchko, subject librarian for Asian American Studies, African American Studies, and US history