In celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (in the US) and Asian Heritage Month (in Canada), I wanted to share some of my favorite people on BookTube of this cultural background, outside of Asia. For those who aren’t in the know, BookTube is a small but mighty corner within YouTube where creators and viewers talk about books and publishing. Books include traditional novels, novellas, comics, graphic novels, manga, and more, regardless of whether it’s physical or digital. We just love to read.
BookTok (same concept, but on TikTok) may be grabbing headlines as a powerful force in publishing and bookselling, but BookTube’s longer form offers nuance and more in-depth analysis. I’m not saying everyone uses it that way, but logistically, nuance can be harder to capture in TikTok’s three minutes versus 10+. In addition to sharing fun and influential creators within the US and Canada, I’ll also be dropping a few in from Europe and South America/the Caribbean. These two continents are also home to many people in the Asian diaspora.
This Story Ain’t Over
Canadian and Sri Lankan-Tamil reader Jananie from This Story Ain’t Over is one of the most bubbly people I engage with on BookTube. She reads mostly YA and adult contemporary but is loving falling head over heels for the Bridgerton series at the moment. Most of her videos of her lean on the more positive side because she does not do many single reviews. Instead, she features a lot of monthly reading wrap-ups and the like, alongside reading vlogs, challenges, unboxings, and bullet journal videos, the last of which can be very soothing.
Jananie also runs the Read in Color Book Club, where they read a different book by an author of color each month. She’ll announce the books a few months in advance, and then the month of, she’ll cohost a live show with another book content creator (even if they’re not on YouTube.) In addition to her channel, Jananie is one of the hosts of HarperCollins’ Epic Reads videos on YouTube and other platforms.
Just because Cindy Pham is one of the most high-profile people on BookTube doesn’t mean I don’t want to include her. Formerly Read With Cindy, Cindy does a variety of YouTube content (mostly related to books and bad Netflix movies) and also works as an art director at Twitter. Queen of weird video transitions and asking people to unsubscribe to her channel, she frequently collabs with a handful of others online, none more frequent than her friend de ella and fellow queer Asian American BookTuber Elias.
While it was already on my radar, her review of White Tears, Brown Scars by Ruby Hamad finally got me to read it, and it became one of my favorite non-fiction titles ever. Other than a few viral videos and her show de ella with Netflix, Cindy is best known for creating the Asian Readathon in 2019. Over the past few years, she’s cultivated it into a large reading event and even led a directory of Asian books on Storygraph . This people encouraged to think beyond Japan, Korea, and China when imagining the Asian Diaspora.
Books are my Social Life
If this list were ranked, I’d put Saajid of Books are my Social Life at the top with Cindy. I watch everyone on this list, but you won’t catch me missing any of his videos. He is an Indo-Caribbean, Trinidadian BookTuber and grad student. He recently explained why there are Caribbean and Latin American countries with large South Asian populations in his video called EXPLAINING MY ETHNICITY… and recommending books of course. Saajid reads mostly contemporary literature but focuses on underrepresented perspectives, especially the Caribbean and Muslim people. In between all of this, he also talks about social ills online and off (specifically publishing) and Global North bias in media.
Korean American Youtuber Monica Kim is firmly part of BookTube and also does many vlogs around fashion, gaming, and travel. Do n’t let her de ella cotton candy color palette and love for Animal Crossing deceive you into thinking all the books she reads will be light-hearted. Kim reads across several genres, from short thrillers to adult fantasy tomes. Alongside Korean Australian BookTuber Books with Chloe, she started an annual Koreadathon reading challenge that takes place one week in March annually and encourages readers to read different types of Korean literature.
Got a Thing for Things
Sandra is a reader from Norway and has a variety channel similar to Cindy, Kim, and others. However, for a while now, most of her content has been book-related, including manga! Sandra cohosts the Faes and Gays Monthly Book Club with fellow queer bookish YouTube creators Celilia Reads and Breakeven Books. Here, they read LGBTQ+ fantasy and science fiction books monthly.
Toronto-based reviewer Tiara Jade of Bookworm Babe (mostly) creates videos that discuss Indo-Caribbean stories. You will also see an occasional vlog, editing, or writing video as she is a self-published author. In addition to BookTube, Tiara serves as the editor-in-chief of Brown Girl Diary and published her book Two Times Removed: An Anthology of Indo-Caribbean Fiction. Though she is equally Trinidadian and Guyanese, Tiara discusses Caribbean literature and historical fiction more broadly.
(image: screencaps from with Cindy and This Story Ain’t Over.)
—The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anybodyhate speech, and trolling.—
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]