May is Asian-American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month in the US, so to celebrate we have rounded up some of our favorite cookbooks, memoirs, and novels that spotlight the diverse history and culture of the region.

Travel is a great way to get outside your own experience and expand your horizons – especially when you stay in one place long enough to get to know the people and culture.

Blueground rents our move-in ready furnished apartments for a month or longer is so that our guests can truly experience a new city like a native. Part of being a well-rounded global citizen is engaging with local culture, whether you’re staying in one of our amazing one-bedroom apartments in New York City or a lovely two-room flat with a balcony in Istanbul. (If you’re looking for some great new restaurants to try during AAPI Heritage Month, check out these delicious picks in various Blueground markets in the U.S.)

Many of these thought-provoking reads also highlight intersectionality and the need to push beyond easy clichés when exploring a culture that is not your own.

Here are some great reads to help you celebrate AAPI Heritage Month.

Crying in H Mart, Michelle Zauner

This tearjerker memoir follows an enterprising indie rocker as she explores the world beyond her suburban childhood in Eugene, Oregon.

Success is elusive in the music industry, but Zauner’s talent led her to a new life on the East Coast performing gigs and making ends meet by working in restaurants. But a family tragedy forces her to examine the intersection of her Korean roots and her identity as a twenty-first century American woman.

The Girl with Seven Names: A North Korean Defector’s Story, Hyeonseo Lee

This nail-biting tale of escape from one of the harshest dictatorships in the world will make you forget your everyday cares in a few pages. Lee describes her fraught existence in North Korea, then details how she escaped to China in 1997.

Although Lee enjoyed a much easier existence in China than in North Korea, she was still an illegal alien and unable to live a full life. After more than a decade, she decided to make an even bolder escape – to South Korea, where she might finally be able to advocate for those she left behind.

people reading

Hawai‘i’s Story by Hawai‘i’s Queen, Lili‘uokalani

The autobiography of Queen Lili‘uokalani is a moving tale of the dark underbelly of the US infiltration of this island paradise. Lili‘uokalani was Hawai’i’s queen for only a few years before being imprisoned by occupying American forces.

This book, written in captivity, explores pre-colonial life in Hawai’i as well as the rise of sugar plantations and their effect on Hawai’ian society. The queen shares her struggle to retain her kingdom with such poignancy that this book is still relevant more than a hundred years after hear death.

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns), Mindy Kaling

Actress and screenwriter Mindy Kaling’s memoir about the transition from the shy child of immigrants to playing Ben Affleck in an off-Broadway show to starring in the hit show The Office is a rollicking ride.

The wry tone of this book makes it almost impossible to put down. Kaling’s sense of humor made her famous, and it’s easy to understand why she ended up on camera instead of staying in the writers’ room for her entire comedy career.

asian woman reading in a windowsill

Maenam: A Fresh Approach to Thai Cooking, Angus An

This wonderful Thai cookbook adapts recipes from Taiwanese-Canadian chef Angus An’s renowned Vancouver restaurant Maenam for home cooks. There are more than 100 recipes in the book, including favorites like pad see ew and hot sour chicken soup with tamarind leaves and bamboo.

You can make restaurant-style food at home with An’s patient guidance. Maenam also features make-at-home snacks inspired by Thai street vendors and a number of quick and easy one-pot curries and soups.

Time Is a Mother, Ocean Vuong

Poet and novelist Ocean Vuong’s deftness with language makes this poetry book the perfect bedside read. The short poems explore the themes of loss, love, family, and the long tail consequences of war.

This book is a highly anticipated follow-up to Night Sky with Exit Wound, Vuong’s debut collection of poetry.

man reading a book

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, Jia Tolentino

Celebrated essayist Jia Tolentino turns her critical eye on contemporary American culture in this wry and funny book of essays. Many of the pieces are highly personal, showing that Tolentino can be just as incisive about her own foibles as when she’s writing about someone else.

In the first essay in the collection, the author recounts her time as an almost-ran on a reality TV franchise. This experience caused her to see just how manufactured our “authentic” selves are in the age of the internet and the 24-hour news cycle.

Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking, Madhur Jaffrey

This collection of delicious plant-based recipes from the queen of Indian cooking will inspire you all year long. This wonderfully inventive guide to vegetarian Indian cooking has more than 200 recipes from across the entire subcontinent.

Jaffrey’s recipes are easy to follow and always produce amazing results! The cookbook also includes photos from her travels throughout India.

What We Were Promised, Lucy Tan

This multilayered novel explores what happens when the wealthy Zhen family leaves the US suburbs for Shanghai. They are welcomed into a close-knit community of Chinese-born professionals who were educated in the west.

At first, Wei and Lina Zhang think they have achieved the American Dream overseas. Life seems richer than ever for the Zhangs as they adapt to their new environment – but a strange incident reveals that all is not well beneath the shiny surface of their glittering Shanghai lives.

a blueground apartment

Whether you are already exploring the world as a digital nomad or looking for a flexible-term apartment to fuel your dreams, you will feel right at home in one of Blueground’s comfortable furnished apartments in cities around the world. Our stylish turnkey homes offer exactly what our guests need to make the most of their time in a new city.

Blueground offers fully-furnished, equipped and serviced apartments in some of the world's most sought after cities.

Are you still renting your apartment the old-fashioned way? Find out more about the Blueground experience.

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