Summer is a great time to read and unwind. There’s nothing like snuggling up on the couch with a light blanket and disappearing into another world full of great twists, turns, sorrows and celebrations. Here are 11 books written by Latinos that we think you should put on your reading list, just in time to celebrate #BookLoversDay.
1. “How the García Girls Lost Their Accents” by Julia Alvarez
CREDIT: Algonquin Books / Amazon
“How the García Girls Lost Their Accents” follows a family from the Dominican Republic as they flee after their father’s association with a group trying to overthrow the dictator government is discovered. The family lands in New York City and the four sisters, Carla, Sandra, Yolanda and Sofia, have to figure out how to adjust to living in a different culture while retaining their Dominican heritage. The adjustment proves tricky for the girls who slowly become increasingly Americanized over time. This book emotionally shows the struggle many young immigrants and first-generation children deal with: balancing your family’s culture with your new culture.
2. “The Show House” by Dan Lopez.
CREDIT: The Unnamed Press / Amazon
Dan Lopez paints a vivid picture of central Florida in his novel “The Show House.” In the book, two families are quickly heading to a disastrous ending in this psychological thriller. A Puerto Rican pharmacist, Laila, is trying to figure out her handsome, young, gay half-brother who is in the throes of some serious teenage angst and runs away from home. At the same time, a serial killer targeting gay men in Orlando is on the loose, leading to more panic than worry. As Laila tries to find her half-brother, another family is trying to fix a broken relationship between a father and son, Steven. Though Steven is married to Peter and the two have a child, something seems off. It isn’t long until all the characters in the book have a fateful meeting.
3. “The Alchemist” by Paulo Coelho.
CREDIT: HarperCollins / Amazon
“The Alchemist” is an absolute classic and no Latino reading list is complete without it. Santiago is a young Andalusian shepherd who is following his destiny, as told to him by a gypsy. During his journey, he learns many valuable lessons that all point to the same conclusion – the importance of following your heart and desires.
4. “Waiting for Snow in Havana” by Carlos Eire.
CREDIT: Pocket Books / Amazon
Author Carlos Eire writes an autobiographical account of being a part of Pedro Pan, a mass exodus of Cuban children to the U.S. from December 1960 to October 1962. Pedro Pan is seen as one of the largest migrations of unaccompanied minors in the Western Hemisphere, with 14,000 Cuban children landing in Miami before being united with relatives or placed in homes across the U.S. Parents sent their children to the U.S. to prevent indoctrination by the rising Cuban government. It is a part of Cuban history that is rarely talked about but one that is important to understand. “Waiting for Snow in Havana” is definitely worth a read if you are into history.
5. “The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende.
CREDIT: Washington Square Press / Amazon
“The House of the Spirits” by Isabel Allende is a story of familial discovery through journals. Clara del Valle was a young girl when her sister was suddenly died of poisoning, leading her to a nine-year period of silence with the outside world. Clara, a clairvoyant, turns to documenting her life in a journal. Fifty years after the book begins, her husband and granddaughter use her journals to try and figure out their families history. There are moments of unease as the secrets of the family are laid bear in the search for identity.
6. “My Beloved World” by Sonia Sotomayor.
CREDIT: Vintage Books / Amazon
Sonia Sotomayor made history as the first Latino ever appointed to the Supreme Court and the third woman to do so. In “My Beloved World,” Sotomayor writes about being the child of Puerto Rican immigrants and how she made her way from a girl in the Bronx that grew up in a housing project with an alcoholic father, to graduating from Yale Law School and becoming a federal district attorney in New York. Basically, this book is a great source of inspiration for anyone who is trying to better their circumstances.
7. “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz.
CREDIT: Riverhead Press / Amazon
Junot Díaz draws the reader into a scary and beautiful story of a young man in New Jersey who is looking for love and acceptance in “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.” After two failed suicide attempts, the main character, Oscar, moves to the Dominican Republic to get away from New Jersey, but things don’t go right. Oscar, who was afraid of dying a virgin, falls in love with a sex worker who has a policeman boyfriend. The policeman sends some men to scare Oscar, and they end up beating him into a coma. This is when Oscar gets sent back to New York where his family helps him recover before he moves back to the Dominican Republic in pursuit of the sex worker.
8. “Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa” by Rigoberto González.
CREDIT: The University of Wisconsin / Amazon
“Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa” is a coming-out story that deals with the complexities and societal shortcomings of the Latino community when it comes to homosexuality. The book is a personal look at the authors’ life, who had to figure out how to come out of the closet as the first-generation child of Mexican farmworkers. The book examines the themes of machismo, being valued within the Latino culture and the struggle first-generation children have when they are in a country whose culture is different from their parents’.
9. “Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina” by Raquel Cepeda.
CREDIT: Atria Books / Amazon
This memoir by Raquel Cepeda is a different glimpse into the complicated world of looking for acceptance from family who doesn’t understand you. “Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina” chronicles Cepeda’s life, starting from when she lived in the Dominican Republic, and touches on how she lost her Latina identity. It was her father and European stepmother who tried to make sure she didn’t express her Dominican heritage.