My America Reading List

“My America” Reading List

All the books featured in My America: Immigrant and Refugee Writers Today.

We present our reading list of books written by refugees, immigrants, and second-generation immigrants, all of which are included in our newest exhibit My America, open now. From poetry collections to memoirs to young adult novels, there is a wide range of genres — and experiences — represented. All of these books are available to read in the exhibit itself, and the authors even bookmarked specific passages to read with a personal note as to its significance. These titles and more are also available for purchase in our gift shop. Plan your visit today!


Becoming Americans: Immigrants Tell Their Stories from Jamestown to Today edited by Ilan Stavans

Becoming Americans: Immigrants Tell Their Stories from Jamestown to Today

edited by Ilan Stavans

Becoming Americans, an anthology edited by Ilan Stavans, brings forth the diverse and complex stories of immigrants spanning 400 years. An immigrant himself, Stavans showcases the experiences of immigrants and how they relate to one another. Each story addresses common themes like physical displacement, language differences, difficulty with assimilation, and split identities in order to bolster the image of America as the “nation of immigrants.”

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Best Worst American: Stories by Juan Martinez

Best Worst Americans: Stories

by Juan Martinez

Juan Martinez immigrated from Bucaramanga, Colombia and now lives in Chicago, though Las Vegas is the setting of most of the stories in his first book, Best Worst American. Through 24 humorous and absurd tales of exile, displacement and identity, the reader is reminded how big the world actually is, and that it is people — and their stories — that define what it means to be American.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


A Bright and Guilty Place: Murder, Corruption, and L.A.'s Scandalous Coming of Age by Richard Rayner

A Bright and Guilty Place: Murder, Corruption, and L.A.’s Scandalous Coming of Age

by Richard Rayner

Prolific writer Richard Rayner introduces a new side of Los Angeles in this book. In the early 20th century, L.A. was a breeding ground of oil fever, get-rich-quick schemes, celebrity scandals and organized crime. Rayner focuses on two men who were caught up in L.A.’s gilded persona and the journey they took to realize that the city was not what it was cracked up to be.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Check Please! Book One: #HOCKEY by Ngozi Ukazu

Check Please! Book One: #Hockey

by Ngozi Ukazu

Ngozi Ukazu grew up in Houston, the daughter of Nigerian immigrants. Her recent comic book Check Please! Book 1: #Hockey tells the tale of Eric, a former junior skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and amateur patissier, as he navigates college, plays hockey and has a crush on the hockey team’s captain, Jack. Eric goes on a journey to discover who he is and confront his feelings of being an outsider.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez

Citizen Illegal

by José Olivarez

José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants, an educator, and an award-winning poet. His debut poetry collection Citizen Illegal is a celebratory look at Latinx life and examines the inconsistencies and intricacies for those caught between the United States and Mexico. Olivarez skillfully invokes everyday language to address complicated issues including race, ethnicity, gender, class, and immigration.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life by Yiyun Li

Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life

by Yiyun Li

Yiyun Li grew up in China and has spent her adult life as an immigrant in a country not her own. She has been a scientist, an author, a mother, a daughter—and through it all she has been sustained by a profound connection with the writers and books she loves. From William Trevor and Katherine Mansfield to Søren Kierkegaard and Philip Larkin, Dear Friend is a journey through the deepest themes that bind these writers together. Interweaving personal experiences with a wide-ranging homage to her most cherished literary influences, Yiyun Li confronts the two most essential questions of her identity: Why write? And why live?

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Dragonfish by Vu Tran

Dragonfish

by Vu Tran

Vu Tran was born in Vietnam months after the fall of Saigon, which forced his father to flee, but did not escape with his family until he was five years old. After months at a refugee camp in Malaysia, Tran’s father brought them to Tulsa, Oklahoma where Vu was raised. Tran’s short stories have won awards and his debut novel Dragonfish brilliantly melds thriller genre fiction with the immigrant journey.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


A Dream Called Home by Reyna Grande

A Dream Called Home

by Reyna Grande

Born in Iguala, Mexico, Reyna Grande entered the United States as an undocumented child immigrant. Despite having few resources, she later went on to earn a university degree and become an author who has received numerous awards. Her memoir A Dream Called Home shows this journey of making her impossible dreams possible and finding her own place in America.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya

Each Tiny Spark

by Pablo Cartaya

Pablo Cartaya is an award-winning author whose novels focus on young Latinx lives and how they navigate family, community, and culture. His third novel, Each Tiny Spark, tells the story of a girl struggling to regain her relationship with her dad while the community ruptures into conflict with her best friend at the center of it.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat

Everything Inside

by Edwidge Danticat

Multi-award winner Edwidge Danticat delivers eight different stories in Everything Inside, which showcase the emotions that hold people together or drive them apart. These stories take the reader from the U.S. to the Caribbean as love, family, and intimacy intertwine to demonstrate a hard-won wisdom and humanity.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Eye Level: Poems by Jenny Xie

Eye Level: Poems

by Jenny Xie

Winner of the Walt Whitman Award, Jenny Xie’s debut Eye Level: Poems wrestles with immigration, travel, and loss. This collection of poems takes the reader on a journey from Phnom Penh to Corfu to Hanoi to New York and other places, combining sensual writing to ask questions about how one sees and is seen. Xie shows the struggle of trying to belong in a seemingly never-ending journey.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Good Morning, Aztlán by Louie Pérez

Good Morning, Aztlán

by Louie Pérez

Lyrics in music can tell a story as easily as any novel and Louie Pérez’s Good Morning, Aztlán exemplifies that in a collection of songs, poems, and paintings Pérez did himself. His songs display the duality of Chicano culture through the use of Spanish in some lyrics and stories of growing up in a world that seems to be against you.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Good Trouble: Stories by Joseph O'Neill

Good Trouble: Stories

by Joseph O’Neill

Winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award, Irish-American Joseph O’Neill offers a collection of subversive yet comical stories in Good Trouble Stories. His stories range from a poet being asked to sign a petition to free Edward Snowden to a man seeking solace with a goose at a wedding. Each story looks at life in the twenty-first century through a troubling and sometimes even political lens.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Gun Island by Amitav Ghosh

Gun Island

by Amitav Ghosh

Amitav Ghosh was born in Calcutta and grew up in India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka before settling in New York. In his latest novel, Gun Island, the main character embarks on a journey of discovery, both inward and outward, while meeting a wide cast of characters along the way. Ghosh incorporates Bengali folklore into this story of displacement and transition while trying to understand a world in crisis.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Gwan Anthology edited by Jerome Walford

Gwan Anthology

edited by Jerome Walford

Gwan Anthology, edited by Jerome Walford, features authors and illustrators who are children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. One of these stories, “Going Postal: Redefine,” is based on a true story that shows the pressure immigrants go through in order to fit in a country that doesn’t speak their native language and the fear to ask for help.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


The House of Broken Angels b y Luis Alberto Urrea

The House of Broken Angels

by Luis Alberto Urrea

Gwan Anthology, edited by Jerome Walford, features authors and illustrators who are children of immigrants or immigrants themselves. One of these stories, “Going Postal: Redefine,” is based on a true story that shows the pressure immigrants go through in order to fit in a country that doesn’t speak their native language and the fear to ask for help.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Houston Astros: Armed and Dangerous by Jose de Jesus Ortiz

Houston Astros: Armed and Dangerous

by Jose de Jesus Ortiz

Sportswriter Jose de Jesus Ortiz has covered Major League Baseball for more than two decades, working as a beat writer and columnist. In his 2006 book Houston Astros: Armed and Dangerous, he chronicles the two historic seasons the Astros faced in the early 2000s, a turbulent time for the team as they lost players, endured the firing of a manager, and changed the national pastime.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez

I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter

by Erika L. Sánchez

As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, Erika L. Sánchez has often challenged the concept of borders in her work. Her young adult novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter similarly confronts societal, cultural, and familial expectations of Mexican-Americans, and protagonist Julia’s emotional coming-of-age story offers a nuanced depiction of the Latina experience.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


The Incendiaries by R.O. Kwon

The Incendiaries

by R. O. Kwon

R. O. Kwon is an award-winning author born in South Korea and raised in the United States. Her debut novel The Incendiaries is a love story within the context of grief and loss and individuals ultimately drawn into a world of extremism while just trying to belong.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


La Misma Luna [Under the Same Moon] by Ligiah Villalobos

La Misma Luna [Under the Same Moon]

by Ligiah Villalobos

The bond between a mother and son can never be broken, no matter the distance. This is what screenwriter Ligiah Villalobos captures in the 2007 film La Misma Luna [Under the Same Moon]. It tells the story of a mother working illegally in the United States while her son was left behind. During their journey they both go through challenges and obstacles yet never lose the hope of seeing each other again.

AMAZON


My Name On His Tongue by Laila Halaby

My Name on His Tongue

by Laila Halaby

Intensely personal and marked with a trenchant wit, these poems form a memoir following PEN Award winner Laila Halaby’s life as they explore the disorientation of exile, the challenge of navigating two cultures, and the struggle to shape her own creative identity. Rooted in her Middle Eastern heritage, these poems illuminate the Arab American experience over the last quarter century.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


The Other Americans by Laila Lalami

The Other Americans

by Laila Lalami

Pulitzer Prize finalist Laila Lalami presents a story of being othered in a society suffering from hypocrisy and hate for those who are “different.” The Other Americans tells the story of the mysterious death of a Moroccan immigrant, in a story that is at once a family saga, murder mystery and love story.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Pet by Akwaeke Emezi

Pet

by Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke Emezi’s young adult debut Pet explores a community reckoning with its past when a young transgender girl, Jam, accidentally summons a creature “called by blood” to hunt monsters. It tells her this monster lurks in her best friend’s house, setting the two children questing for truth in a world that refuses to acknowledge the existence of evil.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Shambala Junction by Dipika Mukherjee

Shambala Junction

by Dipika Mukherjee

Poet, writer, editor, and teacher Dipika Mukherjee is an award-winning author born in New Delhi, India. She holds a PhD in sociolinguistics and her academic interests include Language Shift in Diasporic Communities, and especially women in the Indian diaspora. Mukherjee’s second novel Shambala Junction is a coming of age story amidst the cultural clash of east and west.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story by Marie Arana

Silver, Sword, and Stone: Three Crucibles in the Latin American Story

by Marie Arana

Latin America has been plagued with three major themes for the past millennium: exploitation, violence, and religion. In Silver, Sword, & Stone, award-winning Peruvian-American author Marie Arana grapples with each of these themes through three contemporary Latin Americans, combining the past with the present. Arana demonstrates the connection between those that have been “othered” and the ones who caused it.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Someone Like Me by Julissa Arce

Someone Like Me

by Julissa Arce

In Someone Like Me, Julissa Arce recounts the difficulties of learning a new language and overcoming the cultural barriers of her new home as she worked to earn a scholarship to college, and eventually an executive position on Wall Street, all while being an undocumented immigrant.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen

The Sympathizer

by Viet Thanh Nguyen

Viet Thanh Nguyen, born in Vietnam and raised in America, won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Sympathizer, which is a confession from a communist double agent that powerfully shows him as an outsider in his home country and in his refugee community in Los Angeles.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America by Gustavo Arellano

Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America

by Gustavo Arellano

Gustavo Arellano’s book Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America tells the story of how something as simple as food crossed the border and has become a quintessential part of American cuisine and culture.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura

This Time Will Be Different

by Misa Sugiura

Sometimes life takes one on an unexpected journey, which can lead to standing up for what’s right. CJ from Misa Sugiura’s This Time Will Be Different goes through that journey by finding her passion and fighting against those who want to take everything away from her family. Sugiura references her Japanese-American heritage and the history of what Japanese-Americans faced during World War II.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


The Ungrateful Refugee by Dina Nayeri

The Ungrateful Refugee

by Dina Nayeri

In her first nonfiction work The Ungrateful Refugee, Dina Nayeri narrates her own story as a refugee while weaving other stories of refugees and asylum seekers. Nayeri challenges stereotypical views about immigrants in this country, speaking from personal experience and that of those she has interviewed. She describes the journey it took to come here while also making readers rethink the refugee crisis.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


What Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth by Rigoberto Gonzalez

What Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth

by Rigoberto González

Prolific Mexican-American writer Rigoberto González tells a personal and heart-wrenching story in his memoir What Drowns the Flowers in Your Mouth. González narrates a story of brotherhood where the close relationship he had with his brother saves them both from being consumed by their inner demons.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON


Wrecked by Joe Ide

Wrecked

by Joe Ide

Joe Ide’s third novel in the IQ series, Wrecked, tackles the theme of belonging through its main character, Isaiah Quintabe (IQ). IQ has become a bit of a celebrity in his hometown due to his successful investigations, but the fame has been isolating and IQ craves human connection. Little does he know that it could lead him to some unforeseen threats.

INDIEBOUND | AMAZON

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