Yu and Me bookstore highlights diverse voices

NEW YORK -- A brand-new bookstore in Chinatown is the first of its kind: Owned by an Asian American woman and filled with the stories of minorities in America and first- and second-generation immigrants.

"I really focus on diverse authors, writers of color, stories with people of color as their main character, especially immigrant stories," said store owner Lucy Yu, who has curated a selection of books that represent you and me.


Yu is a 27-year-old chemical engineer, originally from Los Angeles, who decided on a career change last year.

"I love math, I love science, but I think just being an engineer and having that background, that wasn't a path that was really bringing me a lot of fulfillment or joy," Yu said.

Literature was her calling -- and so was becoming a New Yorker. When she moved to the city three years ago, it immediately felt like home.

"I've just never felt like a city gave me a hug like New York did," Yu said.

But when the pandemic changed the world and fueled unprovoked attacks on the Asian community, representation and humanity became all the more critical.

"Seeing someone that looked like my grandmother, my mother, myself, just walking through the streets and being attacked, it was, it was a very scary time," Yu said. "And it still is. And I think that really propelled me to open this up even sooner."

The shop is not just a safe haven, but a cozy one -- even with a little reading nook with comfy chairs.

It only opened a few weeks ago but has already gotten lots of buzz on social media, drawing customers who also always wanted something like what it offers.

Jien Ko of Brooklyn said that after a tough year, this place made her feel like her experience matters.

"I feel like it's like a great way to end the year, is to just come here and visit, and see this place and I think even just being in here feels like validation," Ko said.

It's a timely fresh start for Yu and the storefront that used to sell funeral supplies.