I never intended to become a bookstagrammer, someone who is part of a vibrant bookish community on Instagram that posts and engages with others about what they are reading. Seven years into it, what started for me as a way to find and connect with other readers quickly evolved into a passion to amplify books by authors of color, with a special emphasis on Latinx authored books.
I didn’t discover the magical feelings that come with reading a book in which you see yourself and your community reflected on the page until I was well into my 20s. Since then I’ve tried to inhale as many books as possible by Latinx authors. Though I consider myself someone that celebrates and reads Latinx-authored books all year long, Hispanic Heritage Month is my favorite time of the year to amplify, spotlight, and uplift the vast spectrum of Latinx storytellers writing our stories.
The below list of 11 books by Hispanic authors — from famous to debut — only showcases a small fraction of the range, vibrancy, and depth of Latino literature out there for you to read.
You’ll find novels from the Mexican American perspective; poetry collections; a children’s book about monarch butterflies’ journey across the continent; memoirs about the immigrant experience, and more. Read them during Hispanic Heritage Month — and always.
‘The Hurting Kind’ by Ada Limón
Ada Limón, recently named the 24th U.S. poet laureate, is the author of six books of poetry. “The Hurting Kind” is her newest collection and one that blew me away. Similar to her other poetry collections, the core of her work is our connections to nature and connection to others. “The Hurting Kind” found me in a moment in my life when I felt depleted and empty. Reading the collection replenished me and reminded me to be more intentional and open to the wellness that the natural elements provides for us by simply existing.
‘The Town of Babylon’ by Alejandro Varela
Recently longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction, “The Town of Babylon” is Alejandro Varela’s smart, tender and very queer debut novel. The late-in-life coming-of-age story features Andrés, a gay professor who returns to his suburban hometown to check in on his aging parents and ends up attending his 20-year high school reunion. Varela said the novel is meant to magnify the importance of community as a buffer against stress and poor health. He explores the idea magnificently through stubborn yet hilarious protagonists that you can’t help but root for.
‘Maria, Maria & Other Stories’ by Marytza K. Rubio
Also longlisted for the National Book Award for Fiction, “Maria Maria” is a collection of short stories that features magic, tarot, wild creatures and the unimaginable as the Mexican American characters piece through themes love, grief and power. Put it together, and you get a genre and boundary-defying collection.
‘Seven Empty Houses’ by Samanta Schweblin
With a total of five published books, Samanta Schewblin is an acclaimed an oft-nominated powerhouse known for exploring the creepy and distributing aspects of humanity we often want to ignore. Her newest short story collection “Seven Empty Houses” examines, through seven strange stories, the idea of “home”. These stories will unnerve so much you won’t be able to stop thinking about them long after you’ve set the book down.
‘A Woman of Endurance’ by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa
This historical fiction novel set in the 19th century centers the Atlantic slave trade in Puerto Rico through the cruel journey, Pola, the main character, encounters when she is captured and sold to birth future enslaved children. Though the novel centers heavier topics, its core themes are the endurance of the human spirit and its healing, as the title suggests.
‘My Boy Will Die of Sorrow: A Memoir of Immigration from the Front Lines’ by Efrén C. Olivares
For those that read “Solito” by Javier Zamora, a Read with Jenna book pick this past month, and are looking for a book to read next, “My Boy Will Die of Sorrow” gives added context to the plight immigrants endure once placed within the U.S. Customs and Border Protection system. As a human rights lawyer, Olivares weaves in a few stories from the hundreds of immigrant families he represented under Zero Tolerance, which separated thousands of children from their parents once they were taken into custody at the U.S. Mexico border. Sharing his own family’s separation story when he was a child who was later able to migrate with his family to join his father in the U.S, Olivares breaks down the level of emotional and traumatic journey’s with care and empathy, that so many immigrant families have endured.
‘The Wedding Crasher’ by Mia Sosa
There are rom-coms and then there are Mia Sosa’s rom-coms, which is exactly what you’ll hear from readers who’ve read this USA Today’s bestselling novel “The Worst Best Man.” “The Wedding Crasher” delivers on all the will-they-won’t-they feels rom coms normally give us when Solange and her cousin accidentally interfere during a random couple’s wedding day. The groom sees this as a blessing and his out from possibly making a terrible decision. However when he learns that he might not get a job assignment needed to claim a promotion without a significant other, he pretends that he is in love with Solange. So Solange and the groom, Dean, embark into a phony relationship. Along the way they begin to notice things might not be as fake as they seem.
‘Monarca’ by Leopoldo Gout and Eva Aridjis
In this illustrated fable, a Mexican American girl suddenly changes into a monarch butterfly on her 13th birthday. The reader is pulled into monarch butterflies’ great migration journey from northeastern North America to the forests of southwestern Mexico. In doing so, we learn about the ways in which climate change and humanity’s lack of concern about the smallest of beings can easily destroy the delicate ecosystems around us. Insightful and with stunning images, this novel includes helpful tips on how we can better interact, care and protect our environment.
‘Where There Was Fire’ by John Manuel Arias
This big-hearted family novel, set in Costa Rica and moves between 1968 and the mid-1900s, centers around a mother-daughter estrangement. Teresa Cepeda Valverde’s family is changed by a lethal fire. The novel unfolds an attempt at piecing together what truly was at the root of the fracture and demise of her family. John Manuel Arias’ debut novel is vivid and rich with the ways in which external pressures often assist in breaking families apart.
‘Bad Girls’ by Camila Sosa Villada
Author Camila Sosa Villada draws from her previous experiences as a sex worker, street vendor and hourly maid in Argentina to write a beautifully nuanced story that centers a community of trans sex workers. This vibrant trans coming-of-age story illustrates the power, comfort and protection the community can provide.
‘The Family Izquierdo’ by Rubén Degollado
A troubled family unearths a strange object in the backyard of their family home and so unfolds the story of the Izquierdo family and the three generations pulled together by genetics and a possible curse placed upon them by a jealous neighbor. This family sage is at its core an exploration of love, forgiveness, loss and faith.