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Yu & Me Books: Lucy Yu's Chinatown Bookstore Focuses On Immigrant Stories

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – On Mulberry Street in Chinatown, a former chemical engineer is pursuing her lifelong dream to open a bookstore.

Lucy Yu is proprietor of Yu & Me Books, the city's first Asian American woman-owned bookstore.

In a literary landscape that often elevates white writers, Yu has faced firsthand the challenge of finding stories with which she can connect and identify with on a cultural level. Now, at a bookstore of her own, the focus is on representation, showcasing immigrant stories and writers of color.

"I think that, if someone comes in here, and they're like, 'All of the walls are full of stories that I want to read, that look like me, that have similar backgrounds to me.' And to overwhelm them with that, and know that there's so much out there, I think that's the goal of a place like this," she said.

She aims to build an inventory that reflects the best of its surroundings.

"I hope it represents a microcosm of what New York City is about," she said.

The shelves are filled with coming-of-age, non-fiction, and fantasy stories, including N.K. Jemisin's "The City We Became" and Min Jin Lee's "Pachinko," two of Yu's favorites.

She puts as much thought into the store's atmosphere as she does into its collection, hanging friends' art on the walls and furnishing a reading nook in the back of the store. Her dog Odie welcomes visitors, which has earned him the title "Employee of the Month."

"I wanted it to feel like you were going into a friend's living room and sitting on the carpet after a long day," she said.

In addition to sharing books, Yu finds fulfillment in listening.

"People come to the front and check out books, and they just spill their story to me, and that's something that's beautiful," she said.

Yu & Me Books
44 Mulberry St
New York, NY 10013
(646) 559-1165

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