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Big Read

Take part in the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read by enjoying this year's selection, The Best We Could Do, by Thi Bui.

book cover art and portrait of the author

For a digital copy of the reading guide or a Vietnamese excerpted translated copy of The Best We Can Do, please email bigread@lapl.org.

"And that if I could see Viet Nam as a real place, and not a symbol of something lost...I would see my parents as real people...and learn to love them better."

—from The Best We Could Do

The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir

by Thi Bui

Thi’s debut graphic memoir, The Best We Could Do, is the story of her family in the years before, during, and after the Vietnam War. It was selected for an American Book Award, a Common Book for UCLA and other colleges and universities, a National Book Critics Circle finalist, and was an Eisner Award finalist. Her memoir was included in Bill Gates’ Top 5 Books of 2017 and was called, “A book to break your heart and heal it,” by Pulitzer Prize-winner Viet Thanh Nguyen.

A veteran illustrator, Thi’s short comics can be found online at The Nib, PEN America, and BOOM California. She is a contributor to Refugees Anthology, published by Abrams Press, and illustrated A Different Pond, a 2018 Caldecott Honor Book, with writer Bao Phi. With her son, Hien, she co-illustrated the children’s book, Chicken of the Sea written by Viet Thanh Nguyen and his son, Ellison.

This heartwarming book and its themes will deeply resonate with Angelenos and mirror the experiences of the diverse immigrant population of the Los Angeles area.


The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir
Bui, Thi

Vietnamese Heritage: Children & Teen

Vietnamese Heritage: Fiction & Literature

Vietnamese Heritage: Nonfiction & Memoirs

  • Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey

    Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey

    Tran, G. B.
  • A Short History of the Vietnam War

    A Short History of the Vietnam War

    Smithsonian Institution
  • Adventures in Starry Kitchen: 88 Asian-Inspired Recipes From America’s Most Famous Underground Restaurant

    Adventures in Starry Kitchen: 88 Asian-Inspired Recipes From America’s Most Famous Underground Restaurant

    Trần, Nguyên
  • Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam

    Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam

    Pham, Andrew X.
  • Chickenhawk: Back in the World

    Chickenhawk: Back in the World

    Mason, Robert
  • Courageous Women of the Vietnam War: Medics, Journalists, Survivors, and More

    Courageous Women of the Vietnam War: Medics, Journalists, Survivors, and More

    Atwood, Kathryn J.
  • Dispatches

    Dispatches

    Herr, Michael
  • Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, an American Daughter

    Family in Six Tones: A Refugee Mother, an American Daughter

    Cao, Lan
  • Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey Through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace

    Fire Road: The Napalm Girl’s Journey Through the Horrors of War to Faith, Forgiveness, and Peace

    Kim Phúc
  • Following Ho Chi Minh: The Memoirs of a North Vietnamese Colonel

    Following Ho Chi Minh: The Memoirs of a North Vietnamese Colonel

    Bùi, Tín
  • House of Sticks: A Memoir

    House of Sticks: A Memoir

    Tran, Ly

    In her extraordinary debut memoir, Ly Tran traces her family’s story from war-torn Vietnam to Queens, New York in the 1990s.

  • Huế 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam

    Huế 1968: A Turning Point of the American War in Vietnam

    Bowden, Mark
  • I Love Yous Are for White People: A Memoir

    I Love Yous Are for White People: A Memoir

    Su, Lac
  • If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home

    If I Die in a Combat Zone, Box Me Up and Ship Me Home

    O'Brien, Tim
  • Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors

    Into the Vietnamese Kitchen: Treasured Foodways, Modern Flavors

    Nguyen, Andrea Quynhgiao
  • Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam

    Kill Anything that Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam

    Turse, Nick
  • Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram

    Last Night I Dreamed of Peace: The Diary of Dang Thuy Tram

    Đặng, Thùy Trâm
  • Mango and Peppercorns: A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream

    Mango and Peppercorns: A Memoir of Food, an Unlikely Family, and the American Dream

    Nguyen, Tung
  • Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora

    Perfume Dreams: Reflections on the Vietnamese Diaspora

    Lam, Andrew
  • Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table: Recipes and Reminiscences from Vietnam's Best Market Kitchens

    Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table: Recipes and Reminiscences from Vietnam's Best Market Kitchens

    Mai, Pham
  • Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight To Fit In

    Sigh, Gone: A Misfit’s Memoir of Great Books, Punk Rock, and the Fight To Fit In

    Tran, Phuc
  • Small Bamboo: Growing Up and Growing Old With My Vietnamese Australian Family

    Small Bamboo: Growing Up and Growing Old With My Vietnamese Australian Family

    Vo, Tracy
  • Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir

    Stealing Buddha’s Dinner: A Memoir

    Nguyen, Bich Minh
  • The Circle of Hanh: A Memoir

    The Circle of Hanh: A Memoir

    Weigl, Bruce
  • The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars

    The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars

    Pham, Andrew X.
  • The Food and Cooking of Vietnam & Cambodia: Discover the Deliciously Fragrant Cuisines of Indo-Chin

    The Food and Cooking of Vietnam & Cambodia: Discover the Deliciously Fragrant Cuisines of Indo-Chin

    Başan, Ghillie
  • The Little Saigon Cookbook: Vietnamese Cuisine and Culture in Southern California’s Little Saigon

    The Little Saigon Cookbook: Vietnamese Cuisine and Culture in Southern California’s Little Saigon

    Le, Ann
  • The Pho Cookbook: From Easy to Adventurous, Recipes or Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles

    The Pho Cookbook: From Easy to Adventurous, Recipes or Vietnam’s Favorite Soup and Noodles

    Nguyen, Andrea Quynhgiao
  • The Sacred Willow: Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family

    The Sacred Willow: Four Generations in the Life of a Vietnamese Family

    Elliott, Duong Van Mai
  • The Slanted Door: Modern Vietnamese Food

    The Slanted Door: Modern Vietnamese Food

    Phan, Charles
  • The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After

    The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything That Comes After

    Yip-Williams, Julie
  • The Vietnamese Market Cookbook: Spicy, Sour, Sweet

    The Vietnamese Market Cookbook: Spicy, Sour, Sweet

    Tran, Van
  • Vietnamerica: The War Comes Home

    Vietnamerica: The War Comes Home

    Bass, Thomas A.
  • Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors

    Vietnamese Food Any Day: Simple Recipes for True, Fresh Flavors

    Nguyen, Andrea Quynhgiao
  • Vietnamese Memories: Book 1, Leaving Saigon

    Vietnamese Memories: Book 1, Leaving Saigon

    Baloup, Clément
  • Vietnamese Memories: Book 2, Little Saigon

    Vietnamese Memories: Book 2, Little Saigon

    Baloup, Clément
  • When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman’s Journey From War to Peace

    When Heaven and Earth Changed Places: A Vietnamese Woman’s Journey From War to Peace

    Hayslip, Le Ly
  • Where the Ashes Are: The Odyssey of a Vietnamese Family

    Where the Ashes Are: The Odyssey of a Vietnamese Family

    Nguyẽ̂n, Quí Đức

The National Endowment for the Arts Big Read, a partnership with Arts Midwest, broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. The Big Read is presented in Los Angeles by the Department of Cultural Affairs.

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