Asian Americans Advancing Justice - LA

Building upon the legacy of the Asian Pacific American Legal Center

Essential Heritage Month Reading List

Tuesday, May 9th 2017

You may know Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Los Angeles (Advancing Justice-LA) as one of the leading civil rights organizations for Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPIs). But, did you know that we’re big book lovers as well?

When our staff is not busy advocating for immigrant rights, protecting voter rights, or defending our health care, they love to read. For Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, we’re sharing our favorite books about and/or written by AANHPIs. These aren’t necessarily the “best” books out there, but they’re books that we have found interesting or impactful to us in some way. We hope that you find pleasure in reading these books, too.


"Moloka'i" and "Honolulu" by Alan Brennert

"No-No Boy" by John Okada

"Moloka'i" is about the leprosy outbreak in Hawaii and the building of the leper colony Kalaupapa on the island of Moloka'i.  "Honolulu" is about a picture bride from Korea who came to Honolulu and got married to an abusive husband but finds her way.  "No-No Boy" by John Okada is a classic post-internment camp story. 

Recommended by Kerilyn Sato, Development Assistant

"Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties" by Karen L. Ishizuka

"Yellow Peril!: An Archive of Anti-Asian Fear" by John Kuo Wei Tchen and Dylan Yeats

"Legacy to Liberation" by Fred Ho

"Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama" by Diane Fujino

Everything by Grace Lee Boggs 

Recommended by Ken Montenegro, IT Director

"I Love Yous Are for White People: A Memoir" by Lac Su 

It's an autobiography of a Vietnamese American man who came to the United States as a boat person at the age of 5. The memoir talks about the evolution of his relationship with his father and how living in America changed his family. The story touches on cultural assimilation, domestic violence in Asian communities, and how it drove the formation of local Asian gangs in Southern California. 

Recommended by Tiffany Panlilio, Legal Advocate

"Unsettled: Cambodian Refugees in the New York City Hyperghetto" by Eric Tang 

A highly relevant book in light of the current refugee crisis. 

Recommended by Izumi Miyake, Staff Attorney

"The Sympathizer" by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Recommended by Randy Bunnao, Communications Director

"The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures" by Anne Fadiman 

This book was very memorable to me in law school because it underscores the value of cultural competency in the medical context and beyond through the story of a young Hmong girl whose cultural context conflicts with her medical treatment. Great read!

Recommended by Christine Chen, Staff Attorney

"We Gon’ Be Alright" by Jeff Chang

"Good Girls Marry Doctors" by Piyali Bhattacharya 

"The Color of Success" by Ellen Wu

"The Elephant Vanishes" by Haruki Murakami 

"Apple Pie Fourth of July" by Margaret Chodos-Irvine

"Cora Cooks Pancit" by Dorina K Lazo Filmore 

Recommended by Michelle Lim, Voting Rights Policy Advocate

"Redefining Realness" by Janet Mock

It's a powerful, beautifully written memoir that describes her experiences growing up as a poor, multiracial (African American/Native Hawaiian) transwoman in California and Hawaii.

Recommended by Shelly Chen, Voter Data and Engagement Coordinator

“Pau Hana: Plantation Life and Labor in Hawai'i'” by Ron Takaki

"From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i" by Haunani-Kay Trask
“Pau Hana: Plantation Life and Labor in Hawai'i" documents the working-class roots of Asian Americans in Hawai'i and chronicles the amazing pan-ethnic solidarity, organizing that occurred among plantation workers there. And "From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai'i" gives voice to the ongoing struggles of native Hawaiians as a colonized people and contests popular images of Hawai'i as a vacation paradise.
Recommended by Dan Ichinose, Demographic Research Project Director


Disaster Relief Assistance for Immigrants (DRAI)
9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Monday - Friday

For more information or to apply to DRAI, please call: 

Chinese (Mandarin/Cantonese)  (213) 241-8872
Khmer  (213) 241-8877
Korean  (213) 241-8873
Tagalog  (213) 241-8874
Thai  (213) 241-8875
Vietnamese  (213) 241-8876
English/Other, Non-Spanish  (213) 241-8880
Spanish/English** (CARECEN)  (213) 315-2659
Spanish/English** (CHIRLA)  (213) 201-8700
 (213) 395-9547

*This list will continue to expand.
** Spanish assistance available through CARECEN & CHIRLA.
***We are experiencing heavier call volume than usual. We highly encourage you to call your native language phone line, the wait time may be shorter. 

Our mission is to advocate for civil rights, provide legal services and education, and build coalitions to positively influence and impact Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders and to create a more equitable and harmonious society.