RALIANCE Reading: 5 Non-Fiction Books for AANHPI Heritage Month

Asian woman in a red dress against a library bookshelf, smiling.

Photo Credit: FluxFactory

Note: Some of these books tackle sexual violence. If pursuing any of these books, we encourage readers to take care of themselves and honor their limits while reviewing this sensitive subject matter.


May is Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders (AANHPI) Heritage Month! This month serves as an opportunity to amplify the voices and stories of Asian American and Pacific Islander people throughout U.S. history. We are so excited to honor this month by uplifting some of our favorite non-fiction books by AANHPI authors.

The Body Papers (Grace Talusan)

In Talusan’s 2019 memoir, Brown University Professor Talusan explores the many ways in which growing up in her home and as a Filipina American immigrant has shaped her relationship with her body and how it interacts with the world. In a review of this book, the Tupelo Quarterly describes its narrative as follows:

“From girlhood to present, her body has endured the scrutiny of its skin color, the sexual abuse by her grandfather, political tensions of citizenship, the lingering and silencing fears from Marcos’ dictatorship, and the physical betrayal of cancerous cell mutations and infertility.”

This memoir can be a great way to learn more about anti-Asian prejudice, the immigrant experience, the culture of silence, and the lasting impacts of sexual violence and trauma.

Trigger Warning: Child Sexual Abuse


Inclusion on Purpose: An Intersectional Approach to Creating a Culture of Belonging at Work (Ruchika Tulshyan)

An Indian Singaporean who has lived much of her adult life in the United States, Tulshyan uses the workplace experiences of women of color in her book to emphasize the importance of inclusion in the workplace. In her book, she writes:

“If leadership is about motivating, influencing, and advancing your people to excellence, then intersectional inclusion shows us that we’re not truly including women of color if we don’t seek to empathize with their challenges.”

 Perhaps this book can help serve as a foundation to broaden your organization’s understanding of inclusion!


Know My Name (Chanel Miller)

In 2016, Chinese American Miller’s victim impact statement was published on Buzzfeed and accumulated over 11 million views in just four days. Her statement, then under the name “Emily Doe”, was fearless, unabashed, and straightforward condemnation of the sexual assault she experienced on Stanford University campus. The outpouring of support for this statement, from anonymous users to celebrities and political leaders, led to her releasing her full story in this revealing and important memoir. Most assuredly, we will always know her name.

Read her original victim impact statement here.

Trigger Warning: Sexual Assault and PTSD


Making a Scene (Constance Wu)

Taiwanese American actress Constance Wu is well-known for her work in Crazy Rich Asians, Hustlers, and Fresh Off the Boat. However, many were not aware of her challenges behind the scenes until the release of her memoir, Making a Scene. In this book, not only does she contend with working in an industry which consistently fails at allowing for meaningful representation of Asian Americans, she also grapples with the repeated workplace sexual harassment she experienced on the Fresh Off the Boat set and memories of a sexual interaction she came to understand was rape. This book can be a powerful reminder that we don’t always know what’s behind a smile to the camera.

Trigger Warning: Sexual Violence


Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning (Cathy Park Hong)

This essay collection was a smash hit, Pulitzer Prize finalist, and winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award. Written by Korean American Berkeley Professor Hong, her essays serve as historical lessons and cultural criticisms about the ways in which Asian American identity has been forced to develop in a white supremacist America. From discussions about inherent inequality in the publishing industry to the lack of media attention on violence against Asian American women, Hong challenges her readers to take a deep look at the flaws within our systems. While no group is a monolith, Hong’s words resonate across the incredibly diverse AANHPI community. One Indian American reviewer noted for the Broad Street Review that:

“Minor Feelings made me think more critically about my oppressors while validating my experience as an Asian American who’s never truly felt seen or understood, further inspiring me to openly demand Asian American visibility and justice during a time that desperately needs it.”

All organizations and leaders should be committed to racial justice, and as such we believe it would be quite valuable to include Asian American narratives like Minor Feelings in your reading list this month.

As always, we look forward to reading and learning more about all the communities that function in workplaces in our country and around the world. Were there any books that we missed by some of your favorite AANHPI authors? If so, we can’t wait to see your recommendations on social media!

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673

Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence (API-GBV): 415-568-3315

RALIANCE is a trusted adviser for organizations committed to building cultures that are safe, equitable, and respectful. RALIANCE offers unparalleled expertise in serving survivors of sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse which drives our mission to help organizations across sectors create inclusive environments for all. For more information, please visit www.RALIANCE.org.


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