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If You Are Looking To Grow Culturally, Here Are 23 Books Worth A Good Read

When powerful, influential people try to write Latino stories for us, we rise up. Not only is it important to support Latino writers, but reading the words and alchemy they put down is truly a gift for us. There is nothing more profound that being able to deeply relate to the struggle to be seen, to feel different, to celebrate our curves, to unlearn religious-driven lessons of shame around sex, and to fill in the gaps of our white-washed history, told in full-color by Latinos, for Latinos.

Por favor, disfrute our round up of Latino authored books to feed your soul throughout 2019.

1. “The Poet X” by Elizabeth Acevedo

@epicreads / Instagram

This young adult fiction book has only been on the shelves since March 6th and it’s topping chart. Renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo tells the story of a young Afro-Latina girl growing up in Harlem and discovering her world and voice through slam poetry.

Follow @acevedowritesis on Instagram to see her actually perform!

2. “Getting Off” by Erica Garza

@ericadgarza / Instagram

Erica Garza’s memoir is at the top of my list. This Mexican-American author shares her candid experience of understanding how girls are disproportionately taught shame around sex from a young age and how it led her down a path of porn addiction. This one seems like a life-changer.

3. “You Have the Right to Remain Fat,” by Virgie Tovar

“You Have The Right To Be Fat.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

Preach. Set your countdown for August 2018, when #bopo activist Virgie Tovar will be feeding brown round girls’ souls with her Mexicana guide to unlearn fatphobia, dismantle sexist fashion and reject diet culture. Because we’re more than our friggin bodies (and our bodies are fine as hell as is).

4. “Goddess of Anarchy: The Life and Times of Lucy Parsons, American Radical,” by Jacqueline Jones

“Goddess of Anarchy.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

When white male property-owners write most of the history we learn about in school, we don’t hear our ancestors stories.

That’s why award-winning Jacqueline Jones does some digging to uncover the stories of Texas’ most mysterious activsts: Lucy Parsons. She was African American, Native American and Mexican and she made waves for labor, women’s, racial and prison movements.

5. “The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary,” by NoNieqa Ramos

“The Disturbed Girls Dictionary”. Digital Image. ReadDisruptRepeat.com. 4 April 2018.

Another YA fiction to add to your list (no me importa how old you are, k?). The Puerto Rican writer follows Macy, a normal Bronx girl dealing with your not-so-average incarcerated father issues, your brother being kidnapped by Child Protective Services, and all the other joys of being a teenager in America. Spoiler alert: you’ll want to beg her school to stop calling her “disturbed” already.

6. “Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World,” The Women’s March Organizers and Condé Nast

“Together We Rise.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

On it’s one year anniversary, Chicana Carmen Perez and Colombian Paola Mendoza teamed up with Condé Nast to publish never-before-seen images of the largest protest in U.S. History: The Women’s March. And yes, you’ll find essays from activists America Ferrera, Roxane Gay, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and more. Let this baby carry you through 2019.

7. “Bruja Born,” by Zoraida Cordova

“Bruja Born.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

If you haven’t read the first YA installment, “Brooklyn Brujas,” you have until June 5, 2018 until “Brujas Born” comes out. Ecuadorian author focuses on two teen bruja sisters living in the Bronx.

I swear this sounds like all our tias own memoirs.

8. “Latinas: Struggles & Protests in 21st Century,” by Iris Morales

“Latinas: Struggles & Protests in the 21st Century.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

Edited by Puerto Rican activist, Iris Morales, “Latinas: Struggles & Protests in 21st Century” aims to collect the voices and experiences of today’s leading Latina voices, including Aurora Levins Morales, Jennicet Gutíerrez, Ariana Brown and mitú’s very own Raquel Reichard.

Get this anthology of poetry and prose and prepare to feel rooted in this bat-shit crazy world.

9. “The Line Becomes the River” by Francisco Cantú

“The Line Becomes a River.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

The true life story and memoir of Francisco Cantú’s employment with Border Control and ethical dilemma of when doing his job causes so much personal harm.

You can also listen to an excerpt on This American Life’s “OK, I’ll Do It” Act One: “Line in the Sand.”

10. “Blanca & Roja,” By Anna-Marie McLemore

“Blanca Roja.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

Prepare yourselves: this is the dark Latina retelling of the classic fairytale “Swan Lake” and it’s coming out October 9, 2018. Mexican-American award winner Anna-Marie McLemore shares your classic story of two sisters haunted by a curse that will force one of them to live as a swan if they can’t break the hex. Bless.

11. “Broken Beautiful Hearts,” by Kami Garcia

“Broken Beautiful Hearts.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

She’s a New York Times-bestselling author whose latest novel is a mix of romance and mystery when a high school senior athlete learns her boyfriend’s dark secret and coincidentally falls down a flight of stairs, ruining her pro career and begging the question: who pushed her?

12. Corazón by Yesika Salgado

“Corazón.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

Description: “Corazón is a love story. It is about the constant hunger for love. It is about feeding that hunger with another person and finding that sometimes it isn’t enough. Salgado creates a world in which the heart can live anywhere; her fat brown body, her parents home country, a lover, a toothbrush, a mango, or a song. It is a celebration of heartache, of how it can ruin us, but most importantly how we always survive it and return to ourselves whole.”

13. “In the Country We Love: My Family Divided” by Diane Guerrero

“In The Country We Love.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

You know Diane Guerrero from “Jane the Virgin” and “Orange is the New Black,” and her new addition to her activism for immigration reform. She was just fourteen years old when she came home from school to find her parents suddenly vanished…deported while she was in school.

14. “Empty Set” by Verónica Gerber Bicecci

“Empty Set.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

A self described “visual artist that writes,” Bicecci writes a beautiful, fragmented story, told with black and white drawings, diagrams and text about loneliness in breakups and families.

15. “The Friend” by Sigrid Nunez

“The Friend.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

Your heart will break and fill back up again with this book. Chinese-Panamanian author, Sigrid Nunez, shares the story of a woman mourning her close friend’s suicide and the aftermath of taking in his grieving, massive Great Dane.

16. “Honor Among Thieves,” by Ann Aguirre and Rachel Caine

“Honor Among Thieves.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

If you like sci-fi YA fiction thrillers, then new release “Honor Among Thieves” is for you. The story is about Zara Cole, a petty criminal selected by aliens to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passenger. Difrute!

 17.“Just Sit: A Meditation Guidebook for People Who Know They Should But Don’t,” by Sukey Novogratz and Elizabeth Novogratz

“Just Sit.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

It’s 2018. We all need to work a little extra to find zen this year and Boricua Sukey Novogratz tell us in the lamest terms how to make it happen in our day to day.

18. “Love Poems” by Pablo Neruda

“Love Poems.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

If you weren’t forced to recite Pablo Neruda poetry in front of your class, then I wish I went to your school. This sweet, pocket sized book gives you both the English and Spanish versions of his best love poems.

Life hack: be like my girlfriend and give this to yours so they can hear how much you love them in all the ways. I know, I’m crying.

19. “The First Rule of Punk” by Celia C. Pérez

@girlsreadtheworld / Instagram

Mexican-Cuban author, Celia C. Pérez, shares the untold, yet ubiquitous, story of young punk Latinos in America. Follow the story of 12-year-old María Luia O’Neill-Morales, or as she prefers to be called, Malú. She’s half-Mexican, half-white and she’s angsty af, partly because her mother wants her to be “less punk rocker and more señorita” and partly because…why tf not?

20. “Sabers and Utopias: Visions of Latin America” by Mario Vargas Llosa

“Sabers and Utopias”. Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

Ok, so you’ve read through 19 books, and have found another Nobel Prize winning author. This one is a deep dive into Latin American history told by one of the most talented, brilliant Latino minds alive today.

21. “Sidewalks” by Valeria Luiselli

“Sidewalks.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

Born in Mexico City, Luiselli, “Sidewalks” is the translation of “Papeles Falsos” and a collection of essays about Mexico City, Manhattan, and a dizzying array of graveyard-esque stories in between. Read it to see what I mean.

22. “A Psalm for Us” by Reyna Biddy

“a psalm for us.” Digital Image. Amazon. 4 April 2018.

Twenty two-year-old Reyna “Biddy” Mays is mitad Mexicana and is gifting us this collection of prose, self-affirmations, spoken word poems, and short stories that question faith, marrying the intellect’s acceptance of feminist principles and dragging her heart to the fullest expression of self worth.

This book will opens your soul up.

23. “Islandborn” by Junot Díaz

“Islandborn | Lola.” Digital Image. JunotDiaz.com. 4 April 2018.

Dominican writer, Junot Díaz, has gifted us all vivid stories intermingled with our own childhood memories. Today, he’s gifting our world’s youngest story-lovers a tale of Lola, a Dominican girl living in the Bronx, asked to share her family’s story. As her imagination and memories swirl together around serious topics (i.e. dictator Rafael Trujillo), she learns about the heroes of her island, and the story of her family.

I’m 100 percent gifting this to my nietos.

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This Month, Isabel Allende Is Releasing a Memoir and HBO Is Releasing a Mini-Series Based on Her Life

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This Month, Isabel Allende Is Releasing a Memoir and HBO Is Releasing a Mini-Series Based on Her Life

Photo via Getty Images

March is a busy month for Isabel Allende. The most successful Spanish-language author of all time released a new memoir, “The Soul of a Woman”, on March 2nd. On March 12th, HBO released a mini-series based on her life entitled “ISABEL: The Intimate Story of Isabel Allende”.

Both of these projects focus on the unifying themes of Isabel Allende’s life. How she has defied the patriarchy, bucked expectations, and pursued her dreams while the odds were against her.

The HBO mini-series, entitled “ISABEL: The Intimate Story of Isabel Allende”, covers a lot of ground. From Allende’s childhood in Chile, to the chaotic years of her uncle’s assassination (who happened to be Chile’s president), and her subsequent flight to Venezuela.

The series will also touch on different phases of her life. Her career as a journalist for a progressive feminist magazine. Dealing with her all-consuming grief when her daughter died in 1992. Publishing her first novel–“House of Spirits”–in 1982.

A scene from the trailer of “ISABEL” sums up the hurtles that Allende had to overcome to create a career for herself in the male-dominated world of publishing. “They are going to raise the bar because you’re a woman,” her agent tells her bluntly. “You’ll have to work twice as hard as a man in order to obtain half the prestige.”

Allende’s memoir, “The Soul of a Woman“, on the other hand, reflects on her life through a distinctly feminist lens.

Her publisher describes it as “a passionate and inspiring mediation on what it means to be a woman.” And it doesn’t appear that Allende is shying away from the label of “feminist”. One of the first sentences of her book states: “When I say that I was a feminist in kindergarten, even before the concept was known in my family, I am not exaggerating.”

Despite being 78-years-young, Allende’s beliefs–about feminism, freedom and intersectionality–are incredibly modern. Throughout her lengthy press tour, Allende has been candid about the life experiences that have shaped her beliefs–mainly how witnessing her mother’s suffering at the hands of her father contributed to her “rage against chauvinism.”

Today, Allende remains incredibly in touch with the progressive issues of the moment, like the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements.

“In patriarchy, we are all left out: women, poor people, Black people, people with disabilities, people with different sexual orientations,” she recently told PopSugar. “We are all left out! Because it divides us into small groups to control us.”

Above all, Allende believes that we all–especially women–should recognize that we have many of the same goals and dreams. And we’re stronger when we’re united. “Talk to each other — women alone are vulnerable, women together are invincible,” she says.

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ipstori Creator, Ruth Resendiz, Wants People To Love Reading Again

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ipstori Creator, Ruth Resendiz, Wants People To Love Reading Again

When the pandemic hit, the Mexican book market saw print sales decline within the first half of February. By April it had plummeted 88.2 percent.

For former professor, Ruth Resendiz, the Mexican publishing crisis feels personal. The brains behind ipstori, Resendiz is on a mission to get people reading again.

“It was about 15 years ago that you started to see that [students] were not reading,” she told mitú.

In 2019 Mexico Daily News reported a noticeable decrease in reading practices following a recent survey. Results concluded that nearly half of respondents didn’t have time to read, while 21.7 percent showed no interest in reading.

Featured by Apple for Women’s History Month, Resendiz wants new readers to understand the power literature can offer. “There are a lot of writers that say literature can give you a sense of immortality,” she said.

ipstori is Resendiz’s love story to reading that started at a young age.

Courtesy of Apple

Resendiz’s fascination with literature began when she was eight after contracting the measles. Bedridden for two weeks the young girl began reading “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott.

“I knew nothing about the United States and suddenly I was immersed in another family, in another era, in another culture, and that changed my life forever,” she said.

Resendiz continued saying: “With literature, you’re allowed to be unfaithful, you’re allowed to be in a lot of people’s arms.”

Resendiz created ipstori later in life with no tech experience.

Courtesy of Apple

Becoming an entrepreneur at 52, Resendiz launched ipstori in October 2019. With no prior tech experience she was passionate about getting stories into the hands of people everywhere. Despite facing challenges as a middle-aged woman in the field, Resendiz got help from her tech savvy children turning her solo passion into a family affair.

Considered “a Spotify for literature,” the app contains fictional short stories in genres ranging from romance to thrillers. Available on the App Store, each story has a reading time of one, three, five, or seven minutes.

One of Resendiz’s main focuses with ipstori is to highlight the emotional depth of a narrative. With a generation living on smartphones, Resendiz hopes this method of engagement sparks a change of attitude.

ipstori gives readers thousands of stories to read at any time.

Courtesy of Apple

As attention spans have declined with the rise of social media, Resendiz anticipates that reading short stories would eventually allow readers to adapt to longer novels.

For me, a success story would be that someone that started with ipstori, [their] next stage is going to a library or to Kindle or buy a whole book,” she stated. “We don’t want to compete with books. We just want to give you this kind of starting ritual.”

During the pandemic, 71 percent of the Mexican population was on the internet. Thanks to the digital market, e-books and audiobooks are helping print bookstores regain sales, but not by much.

Luckily, more than 70,000 users engaged with ipstori reading ‘diversidad’ and ‘erotic’ genres that especially gained traction during the pandemic.

“When you’re surrounded by death in every sense, not just corporal death, but [the] death of a lot of things you need to control it with life,” Resendiz observes. “And what is more lively than [the] erotic?”

With over 200 authors writing for ipstori from all over Latin America, Resendiz is expanding the app’s range to include “tiny audibles” read by professional theater actors.

While the publishing crisis remains, Resendiz wants her app to “be that bridge between the creators and the possible readers.”

Reading, she says, is “the difference between being alive and just surviving.”

“We are made by stories, the stories of our parents, and the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves,” Resendiz says.

The App Store featured ipstori for Women’s History Month.

READ: Many Native Languages Are Dying Off But Here’s How Indigenous Millennials Are Using Tech To Save Them

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