Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month

JCPL librarians bring you book recommendations and discuss the bites and beverages to pair with them.

Celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with books by AAPI authors! It’s one of the prompts on the Winter-Spring 2024 Books & Bites Bingo reading challenge. Our suggestions include an action-packed adventure tale, a YA romance, and a comic but realistic immigration story.

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The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu book cover

Michael’s Pick

The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu by Tom Lin begins with Ming Tsu traversing the salt flats of the Utah Territory, making his way to a Union Pacific camp to kill a man.

The past couple years, Ming Tsu had been serving his sentence laboring for the railroad, all because he made the mistake of falling in love and marrying the daughter of a railroad baron.

This is an action-packed, cinematic adventure tale full of brawls, gunfights, showdowns, betrayal, and ambushes. It also gives a peek at the xenophobia and racism experienced in the Old West by Chinese immigrants and marginalized folks.   

Pairing: Pit Beans is a hearty dish that’s perfect for any cowboy.


Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi book cover

Jacqueline’s Pick

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi is about two young people, Penny and Sam, whose awkward meeting results in them exchanging numbers and promising to be each other’s emergency contacts because neither of them has a reliable parent. Their friendship grows via text as they find themselves texting one another non-stop.

Fans of Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before will enjoy this novel. Both novels have fresh Asian American voices and similar story arcs.

Pairing: A flat white espresso.


The Chinese Groove by Kathryn Ma book cover

Carrie’s Pick

In The Chinese Groove by Kathryn Ma, main character Shelley is an 18 year old Chinese student eager to seek his fortune in the United States, where he plans to win back his girlfriend by becoming a famous poet. His “foolproof plan” hits some snags as soon as his flight lands in San Francisco.

Though the characters, including Shelley, are all grieving, his comic and somewhat satirical voice keep the tone hopeful. Fans of The Wangs vs. the World will appreciate this character-driven and intricately plotted book.

Pairing: Steamed Sea Bass with Ginger and Spring Onion, a recipe from Every Grain of Rice: Simple Chinese Home Cooking by Fuschia Dunlop.


More Great Books by AAPI Authors