80 Books to Celebrate Filipino American History Month


October is Filipino American History Month.

Hollywood News Source is celebrating this annual occasion with book recommendations ranging from literary fiction, poetry collection, romance, YA and MG titles written by Filipino-American authors.

You can read and share these books all year-round.

Literary/Historical Fiction

America Is Not the Heart by Elaine Castillo (2018): “An increasingly relevant story told with startling lucidity, humor, and an uncanny ear for the intimacies and shorthand of family ritual, America Is Not the Heart is a sprawling, soulful debut about three generations of women in one family struggling to balance the promise of the American dream and the unshakeable grip of history.”

Babaylan: An Anthology of Filipina and Filipina-American Writers by
Nick Carbo (Editor) (2000): As the first international anthology of Filipina writers published in the United States, BABAYLAN reflects the complex history of a people whose roots have stretched to both sides of the globe.

Dogeaters by Jessica Hagedorn (1991): “Welcome to Manila in the turbulent period of the Philippines’ late dictator. It is a world in which American pop culture and local Filipino tradition mix flamboyantly, and gossip, storytelling, and extravagant behavior thrive.”

Dream Jungle by Jessica Hagedorn (2004): Set in a Philippines of desperate beauty and rank corruption, Dream Jungle feverishly traces the consequences of two seemingly unrelated events: the discovery of an alleged “lost tribe” and the arrival of a celebrity-studded American film crew filming an epic Vietnam War movie. 

In the Country by Mia Alvar (2015): “These nine globe-trotting, unforgettable stories from Mia Alvar, a remarkable new literary talent, vividly give voice to the women and men of the Filipino diaspora. Here are exiles, emigrants, and wanderers uprooting their families from the Philippines to begin new lives in the Middle East, the United States, and elsewhere and, sometimes, turning back again.”

Insurrecto by Gina Apostol (2018): “Histories and personalities collide in this literary tour-de-force about the Philippines’ present and America’s past by the PEN Open Book Award–winning author of Gun Dealers’ Daughter.”

Leche by R. Zamora Linmark (2011): “Witty and mesmerizing, this novel explores the complex colonial and cultural history of the Philippines and the paradoxes inherent in the search for both personal and national identities.”

Manila Noir by Jessica Hagedorn (Editor) (2013): “As you will see from this steamy collection of stories, all these delicious contradictions serve to enrich and expand our concept of noir. What you will also find are the noir essentials: alienated and desperate characters, terse dialogue, sudden violence, betrayals left and right.”

Monstress by Lysley Tenorio (2012): “A luminous collection of heartbreaking, vivid, startling, and gloriously unique stories set amongst the Filipino-American communities of California and the Philippines, Monstress heralds the arrival of a breathtaking new talent on the literary scene: Lysley Tenorio. “

The Farm by Joanne Ramos (2019): “Gripping, provocative, heartbreaking, The Farm pushes to the extremes our thinking on motherhood, money, and merit and raises crucial questions about the trade-offs women will make to fortify their futures and the futures of those they love.”

The Five-Forty-Five to Cannes by Tess Uriza Holthe (2007): “In these stories, Tess Uriza Holthe peers deeply into the inner lives of these women and men, while evoking with sensual grace the richness of the land and culture they share: the time-stopping quality of an exquisite and leisurely meal taken at a tiny ristorante in an unmapped village.”

The Gangster of Love by Jessica Hagedorn (1997): “Rocky Rivera arrives in the U.S. from the Philippines the day that Jimi Hendrix dies. So begins a blazing coming-of-age story suffused with the tensions of immigration which finds Rocky moving from the counter-culture in 1960s San Francisco to the extravagant music scene in Manhattan of the 1980s.”

The Son of Good Fortune by Lysley Tenorio (2020): “Thrumming with energy and at once critical and hopeful, The Son of Good Fortune is a luminous story of a mother and son testing the strength of their bond to their country—and to each other.”

The Umbrella Country: A Novel by Bino A. Realuyo (1999): “In this lush, richly poetic novel of grinding hardship and resilient triumph, of selfless sacrifice and searing revelation, Bino A. Realuyo brings the teeming world of 1970s Manila brilliantly to life. While mapping a young boy’s awakening to adulthood in dazzling often unexpected ways, The Umbrella Country subtly works sweet magic.”

Toxicology by Jessica Hagedorn (2011): “Jessica Hagedorn’s edgy and entertaining new novel centers on the lives of two women who are neighbors in Manhattan’s West Village.”

When the Elephants Dance by Tess Uriza Holthe (2003) – “Once in a great while comes a storyteller who can illuminate worlds large and small, magical and true to life. When the Elephants Dance  introduces us to the incandescent voice of Tess Uriza Holthe, who sets her remarkable first novel in the waning days of World War II, as the Japanese and the Americans engage in a fierce battle for possession of the Philippine Islands.”

Non Fiction

America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan (2019): “A 1946 Filipino American social classic about the United States in the 1930s from the perspective of a Filipino migrant laborer who endures racial violence and struggles with the paradox of the American dream, with a foreword by novelist Elaine Castillo.”

Babaylan: Filipinos and the Call of the Indigenous by Leny Mendoza Strobel (2013): “This collection of scholarly essays and personal narratives by decolonizing scholars, poets/writers, artists, culture-bearers, and activities, offer the wisdom and insights gleaned from their engagement with the Babaylan tradition and practice. “

Brown Skin, White Minds: Filipino -/ American Postcolonial Psychology by E.J.R. David (2013): “This book is intended for the entire community – teachers, researchers, students, and service providers interested in or who are working with Filipinos and Filipino Americans, or those who are interested in the psychological consequences of colonialism and oppression. This book may serve as a tool for remembering the past and as a tool for awakening to address the present.”

Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen by Jose Antonio Vargas (2018): “After 25 years of living illegally in a country that does not consider me one of its own, this book is the closest thing I have to freedom.”

Fairest: A Memoir by Meredith Talusan (2020): “A singular, beautifully written coming-of-age memoir of a Filipino boy with albinism whose story travels from an immigrant childhood to Harvard to a gender transition and illuminates the illusions of race, disability, and gender.”

Growing Up Brown: Memoirs of a Filipino American by Peter M. Jamero (2006): “Jamero describes decades of toil and progress before the Filipino community entered the sociopolitical mainstream. He shares a wealth of anecdotes and reflections from his career as an executive of health and human service programs in Sacramento, Washington, D.C., Seattle, and San Francisco.”

Lolas’ House: Filipino Women Living with War by M. Evelina Galang (2017): “During World War II more than one thousand Filipinas were kidnapped by the Imperial Japanese Army. Lolas’ House tells the stories of sixteen surviving Filipino “comfort women.”

Malaya: Essays on Freedom by Cinelle Barnes (2019): “Out of a harrowing childhood in the Philippines, Cinelle Barnes emerged triumphant. But as an undocumented teenager living in New York, her journey of self-discovery was just beginning.”

Somewhere in the Middle: A journey to the Philippines in search of roots, belonging, and identity by Deborah Francisco Douglas (2019): “Filled with warmth and humor, Somewhere in the Middle captures the simple joy found in ordinary moments and in the people we share our lives with, shedding new light on what it truly means to find the place where you belong. “

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion by Jia Tolentino (2019): “Trick Mirror is an enlightening, unforgettable trip through the river of self-delusion that surges just beneath the surface of our lives. This is a book about the incentives that shape us, and about how hard it is to see ourselves clearly through a culture that revolves around the self. “

The Body Papers by Grace Talusan (2019): “Winner of The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, Grace Talusan’s critically acclaimed memoir The Body Papers, a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection, powerfully explores the fraught contours of her own life as a Filipino immigrant and survivor of cancer and childhood abuse.”

The Groom Will Keep His Name: And Other Vows
I’ve Made About Race, Resistance, and Romance
 by Matt Ortile (2020): “A riotous collection of “witty and captivating” essays by a gay Filipino immigrant in America who is learning that everything is about sex (Bitch Magazine) — and sex is about power.”

The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans
Break the Rules of Race
 by Anthony Christian Ocampo (2016): “Amplifying their voices, Ocampo illustrates how second-generation Filipino Americans’ racial identities change depending on the communities they grow up in, the schools they attend, and the people they befriend. Ultimately, The Latinos of Asia offers a window into both the racial consciousness of everyday people and the changing racial landscape of American society.”


Brooklyn Antediluvian: Poems by Patrick Rosal (2016): “Rosal writes, and it’s true―this new book is full of lessons, hard-earned, from a poet who nonetheless finds beauty in the face of violence.”

Diwata by Barbara Jane Reyes (2010): “In her book Diwata, Barbara Jane Reyes frames her poems between the Book of Genesis creation story and the Tagalog creation myth, placing her work somewhere culturally between both traditions. Also setting the tone for her poems is the death and large shadow cast by her grandfather, a World War II veteran and Bataan Death March survivor, who has passed onto her the responsibility of remembering. “

Letters to a Young Brown Girl by Barbara Jane Reyes (2020): “Barbara Jane Reyes answers the questions of Filipino American girls and young women of color with bold affirmations of hard-won empathy, fierce intelligence, and a fine-tuned B.S. detector.”

My American Kundiman by Patrick Rosal (2006): “Passionate, provocative, and irrepressible throughout, My American Kundiman further establishes Rosal as a poet to be reckoned with.”

My Heart of Rice: A Poetic Filipino American Experience by Ashley C. Lanuza (2020): “Through vivid and rhythmic poetry, My Heart of Rice moves to empower anyone who may have a difficult or unconventional relationship with their cultural identity. While Lanuza encourages acceptance of our unique details, she emphasizes the unity found in shared experiences and speaks of the inherent need for belonging, the youthful attempts at assimilation, and the deep melting pot of ethnicity and culture that makes up our humanity.”

Not your Token (a chapbook series of identities) by Leila Tualla (2018): “Leila Tualla is a Filipino-American memoirist, poet, and Christian author. Leila’s books include a YA Christian contemporary romance called, Love, Defined and a memoir/poetry collection called ‘Storm of Hope: God, Preeclampsia, Depression and me.’ “

Pagpag: The Dictator’s Aftermath in the Diaspora by Eileen R. Tabios (2020): “Eileen Tabios captures in scintillating prose the sights, smells, sounds, and ghostly hauntings of that era and offers back to the homeland, as in the gift of a proverbial balikbayan box, her reflections both heartfelt and wrenching.”

Proof of Stake: An Elegy by Charles Valle (2021): “ROOF AT STAKE is a multivalent meditation on loss, grief, and social constructs. Grounded in the death of the poet’s daughter, Vivian, this long elegy ruminates on a wide range of subjects, from the effects and winding paths of disruptive technologies, such as paper and cryptocurrency, to critiques and observations of art movements, diasporas, social unrest, and the history of the Philippines.”

500 Words or Less by Juleah del Rosario (2020): “A high school senior attempts to salvage her reputation among her Ivy League–obsessed classmates by writing their college admissions essays and in the process learns big truths about herself in this mesmerizing debut novel-in-verse, perfect for fans of Gayle Forman and Elizabeth Acevedo.”

After The Shot Drops by Randy Ribay (2018): “Told from alternating perspectives, After the Shot Drops is a heart-pounding story about the responsibilities of great talent and the importance of compassion.”

All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor (2018): “In this genre-defying page-turner from Lygia Day Peñaflor, four teens befriend their favorite novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book—with devastating consequences.”

Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery by M. Evelina Galang (2013): “Angel has just lost her father, and her mother’s grief means she might as well be gone too. She’s got a sister and a grandmother to look out for, and a burgeoning consciousness of the unfairness in the world—in her family, her community, and her country.  Set against the backdrop of the 1986 Philippine People Power Revolution, the struggles of surviving Filipina “Comfort Women” of WWII in the early 1990s, and a cold winter’s season in the city of Chicago is the story of a daughter coming of age, coming to forgiveness, and learning to move past the chaos of grief to survive.”

An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay (2015): “Four friends from wildly different backgrounds have bonded over Dungeons & Dragons since the sixth grade. Now they’re facing senior year and a major shift in their own universes. “

Fresh Off the Boat by Melissa de la Cruz (2005): “But Vicenza won’t be friendless, fashionless, or “fresh off the boat” for long—it’s only a matter of time before she sees what’s right before her eyes, and her luck begins to change.”

My Heart Underwater by Laurel Flores Fantauzzo (2020): Fans of Adib Khorram and Randy Ribay will love this coming-of-age debut about a Filipina American teen drowning under pressure and learning to trust her heart. A Kirkus Best Book of 2020.

Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay (2019): “A powerful coming-of-age story about grief, guilt, and the risks a Filipino-American teenager takes to uncover the truth about his cousin’s murder.”

Private Lessons by Cynthia Salaysay (2020): “In a standout debut for the #MeToo era, a young pianist devotes herself to her art — and to the demanding, charismatic teacher she idolizes.”

Something in Between by Melissa de la Cruz (2016): “The thought-provoking and timely new novel from Melissa de la Cruz, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Alex & Eliza: A Love Story, will have you crying with Jasmine as she finds out she’s undocumented – then cheering her on as she fights to stay in the country she loves.”

The Importance of Being Wilde at Heart by R. Zamora Linmark (2019): “Readers of Adam Silvera (They Both Die at the End) and Elizabeth Acevedo (The Poet X) will pull out the tissues for this tender, quirky story of one seventeen-year-old boy’s journey through first love and first heartbreak, guided by his personal hero, Oscar Wilde.”

Turtle Under Ice by Juleah del Rosario (2021): “Haunting and evocative—and told in dual perspectives—Turtle under Ice examines two sisters frozen by grief as they search for a way to unthaw.”

Unscripted Joss Byrd by Lygia Day Peñaflor (2017): “Unscripted Joss Byrd by Lygia Day Peñaflor is compelling YA Hollywood fiction about a young girl who must learn how to navigate fame and celebrity along with growing up.”

YA Series

Empress of a Thousand Skies (Empress of a Thousand Skies #1) by Rhoda Belleza (2017): “Rhoda Belleza crafts a powerful saga of vengeance, warfare, and the true meaning of legacy in this exhilarating debut, perfect for readers of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles and Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman’s Illuminae Files.”

Ignite the Stars (Ignite the Stars #1) by Maura Milan (2018): “In this exhilarating edge-of-your-seat sci-fi adventure—perfect for fans of The Lunar Chronicles—debut author Maura Milan introduces our world to a thrilling new heroine.”

The Gilded Wolves (The Gilded Wolves #1) by Roshani Chokshi (2019): “First in a “wildly inventive and wildly representative” (The New York Times Book Review) historical fantasy series, Roshani Chokshi’s The Gilded Wolves follows the exploits of a found family—six societal outcasts tasked with stealing a powerful artifact that can alter their lives for the better, but at the cost of breaking the world.”

Trouble Is a Friend of Mine (Trouble, #1) by Stephanie Tromly (2015): “Sherlock meets Veronica Mars meets Riverdale in this romance where the leading man is decidedly unromantic, and crime novel where catching the crook isn’t the only hook.”

Where Dreams Descend (Kingdom of Cards #1) by Janella Angeles (2020): “Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.”


Arsenic and Adobo (Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery #1) by Mia P. Manansala (2021): “Mia Manansala’s debut, Arsenic and Adobo, serves up a cozy plate of ube crinkles with a side of murder. Readers are sure to salivate over this Filipino-American mystery as Lila smokes out the food critic’s killer.”—Roselle Lim, author of Vanessa Yu’s Magical Paris Tea Shop

Middle Grade

Any Day with You by Mae Respicio (2020): “A warm, tender story about a creative girl who hopes that by winning a filmmaking contest, she’ll convince her great-grandfather not to move back home to the Philippines. For fans of Erin Entrada Kelly and Kelly Yang.”

Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly (2015): “Future rock star or friendless misfit? That’s no choice at all. In this acclaimed novel by Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly, twelve-year-old Apple grapples with being different; with friends and backstabbers; and with following her dreams.”

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (2017): “The acclaimed and award-winning author of Blackbird Fly and The Land of Forgotten Girls writes with an authentic, humorous, and irresistible tween voice that will appeal to fans of Thanhha Lai and Rita Williams-Garcia.”

How to Win a Slime War by Mae Respicio (2021): “Two kids face off in an epic battle to see who can sell the most slime, while navigating sticky situations with friends and family.”

Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly (2019): “Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly’s debut fantasy novel is inspired by Filipino folklore and is an unforgettable coming-of-age story about friendship, courage, and identity. Perfect for fans of Lauren Wolk’s Beyond the Bright Sea and Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon. “

The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio (2018): “A coming-of-age story that explores culture and family, forgiveness and friendship, and what makes a true home. Perfect for fans of Wendy Mass and Joan Bauer.”

The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly (2017): “Acclaimed and award-winning author Erin Entrada Kelly writes masterfully about the challenges of finding hope in impossible circumstances, in this novel that will appeal to fans of Cynthia Kadohata and Thanhha Lai.”

Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic by Armand Baltazar (2017): “For fans of Rick Riordan and Brian Selznick, author-artist Armand Baltazar introduces Timeless: Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic, the first in a new science fiction/fantasy series that explores a world painted new by the Time Collision. Integrating art and text, this epic and cinematic adventure features more than 150 full-color illustrations.”

We Belong by Cookie Hiponia Everman (2021): “A novel-in-verse, that weaves an immigrant story together with Philippine mythology. “

We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelly (2017): “Newbery Medalist and New York Times–bestselling author Erin Entrada Kelly transports readers to 1986 and introduces them to the unforgettable Cash, Fitch, and Bird Nelson Thomas in this pitch-perfect middle grade novel about family, friendship, science, and exploration. This acclaimed Newbery Honor Book is a great choice for readers of Kate DiCamillo, Rita Williams-Garcia, and Rebecca Stead.”

You Go First by Erin Entrada Kelly (2018): “Funny and poignant, Newbery Medalist and New York Times bestseller Erin Entrada Kelly’s national bestseller You Go First is an exploration of family, bullying, word games, art, and the ever-complicated world of middle school friendships.”


Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava #1) by Roshani Chokshi (2018): “The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?”

Childrens Books

FIERCE FILIPINA: Inspired by the Life of Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio by Maxie Villavicencio Pulliam (Author), Jill Arteche (Illustrator) (2021) – “FIERCE FILIPINA tells the story of national hero Gliceria Marella de Villavicencio and her contributions towards the Philippines’ independence. Written by her great-great-granddaughter, this illustrated biography details Gliceria’s unstoppable drive to empower her fellow Filipinos and overthrow both Spanish and American colonists alongside other historical figures like Dr. José Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and Emilio Aguinaldo. A timeless depiction of love, loss and the relentless pursuit of equality, FIERCE FILIPINA will inspire readers of all ages to follow their hearts and fight for social justice.”

Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong by Dawn Bohulano Mabalon, Gayle Romasanta, Andre Sibayan (Illustrator) (2018) – “This book, written by historian Dawn Bohulano Mabalon with writer Gayle Romasanta, richly illustrated by Andre Sibayan, tells the story of Larry Itliong’s lifelong fight for a farmworkers union, and the birth of one of the most significant American social movements of all time, the farmworker’s struggle, and its most enduring union, the United Farm Workers. A percentage of proceeds from this book will be donated to the nonprofit organizations Little Manila Rising and the Filipino American National Historical Society.”

Maybe Maybe Marisol (Maybe Marisol #1) by Erin Entrada Kelly (2021): “Maybe, Maybe Marisol Rainey is an illustrated novel about summer, friendship, and overcoming fears, told with warm humor and undeniable appeal. Fans of Clementine, The Year of Billy Miller, and Ramona the Pest will be thrilled to meet Marisol.”

When Lola Visits Michelle Sterling (Author) Aaron Asis (Illustrator) (2021): “In an evocative picture book brimming with the scents, tastes, and traditions that define a young girl’s summer with her grandmother, debut author Michelle Sterling and illustrator Aaron Asis come together to celebrate the gentle bonds of familial love that span oceans and generations.”

Urban Fantasy

Vampires of Portlandia by Jason Tanamor (2020): “Based on Filipino folklore (aswang), “Vampires of Portlandia” is a fantastical tale of different monsters coexisting in the weirdest city in America. RIYL Twilight Saga, the television show “Grimm”, and “The Lost Boys”.

Graphic Novels

Flamer by Mike Curato (2020): “Award-winning author and artist Mike Curato draws on his own experiences in Flamer, his debut graphic novel, telling a difficult story with humor, compassion, and love.”

I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir by Malaka Gharib (2019): “I Was Their American Dream is at once a coming-of-age story and a reminder of the thousands of immigrants who come to America in search for a better life for themselves and their children. “


Boracay Vows (Carpe Diem Chronicles Book 1) by Maida Malby (2017): “Krista Lopez has five days to fulfill her Turning-Thirty Vow—the promise to do something life-changing in celebration of this milestone birthday. Her plan: give in to her attraction to her Irish-American hunk of a boss Mr. Blake Ryan who is conveniently vacationing in the same posh resort in Boracay.”

It Takes Heart (Heart Resort #1) by Tif Marcelo (2021): “From romance author Tif Marcelo comes a heartwarming story about taking a second chance on love at a family-owned couples resort.”

North to You (Journey to the Heart #1) by Tif Marcelo (2017): “In this heartwarming and charming debut from Tif Marcelo, a food truck chef and her long lost Army love clash when they cross paths in San Francisco.”

Simmer Down by Sarah Smith (2021): “”Sarah Smith delivers a story and characters to root for! Simmer Down is full of love and food (which is love), and you’re sure to crave more with each page.”—Tif Marcelo, author of Once Upon A Sunset.”

Thirsty: An Eastside Brewery by Mia Hopkins (2018): “NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST • A gangster hiding from his past. A single mom fighting for her future. Can she show this bad boy the man he’s meant to be?”