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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Doubly marginalized by their race and gender, Black women face so much of their lives combatting the stereotypes that anguish them. Worse, on a daily basis Black women are forced to find ways to thrive and succeed in their lives and careers by white-washing and invalidating their own identities.
Recently, women on Reddit shared the stereotypes that afflict them and it was pretty eye-opening.
Check this out below!
“The stereotype that our entire being is sassy and ghetto. Recently, I was at a friends for game night, we were playing Uno. I simply but jokingly was like “girl don’t look at my cards” and her entire family mimicked me but made it way more than it was like i had said “GURRRLLL DONT YOU BE LOOKIN AT MY CARDS” when that’s not how i said it… at all.” –y0aujani
“I hate the stereotype that we must want to be White if we don’t fit within the clearly defined list of actions and beliefs that society says black women are supposed to be (this stereotype is usually coming from other black people, which makes it sadder).
Oh look! That black woman dyed her hair a color that isn’t typically associated with black people. She clearly wishes she was White!
Oh my GOD. That black woman is dating a White guy. Doesn’t she know that she’s supposed to save herself for a black man?? She clearly wishes she was White.
Good Lord. That black woman likes country line dancing! This is humanity’s worst affront to nature! She clearly wishes she was White!
And so on. I mean, I get that “black” isn’t merely a skin color, it’s a culture. Doing things outside the customs of the culture can make it seem that we are ashamed of said culture. If I don’t like soul food, you can kind of see how that may come across as me looking down my nose at my own culture. But there has to be some kind of limit, where we can like different things and simultaneously have respect for our roots.
Do other cultures go through this? If a Scottish person doesn’t like haggis, are they given shit for not being ‘Scottish enough’?” –VintagePoet82
“My last name is Italian. I know this doesn’t come close to the crap you have to deal with on a daily basis, but admitting I don’t like tomatoes is usually met with “how do you call yourself an Italian?!” …Because that’s where my great grandfather is from?
My family still practices some cultural traditions that celebrate our heritage, but I HATE the idea of baskets delineated by racial stereotypes. People don’t fit in boxes. I’m not trying to be Jewish when I attend Hanukkah parties, I’m not trying to be Cuban when I dance salsa, I’m not trying to be Black when I braid my hair, I’m not trying to be white when I go skiing. I’m just trying to enjoy time with the people I love, and also manage these damn curls, wherever they came from.” C0USC0US
“This doesn’t happen since I moved, but happened a lot when I was a teen/young adult growing up in rural Pennsylvania. (By the way, on balance it’s a wonderful place. Like any rural area, you sometimes wish the people there were more worldly and educated than they are, but I still love Pennsyltucky.)
Anyhow, often times when it came up that I was (and still am) a huge hip-hop fan, someone would inevitably bring up that I was, ‘trying to be black.’ Or they would use an extremely derogatory slang word for a white person who is ‘acting black’ that I’m not going to repeat here.”- Langosta_9er
“I think that everyone in the world feels pressure to let go of their culture and fall into line with the Post-ww2 American consumerist canon. So the people remaining that wish to remain tied to their culture demonize those who embrace change (I’m not saying that the change is positive though).
In my case as an Indian you get pressure from both sides, if you’re too Indian you’re considered a luddite and might be given shit for not assimilating enough, but you might also get shit for not knowing some random shit about your culture depending on who you talk to. That’s just with 2nd gen immigrants though, it seems like 3rd gen are completely assimilated with just physical differences while 1st gen tend to go too much to the other side.
With black people there seems to be a movement for black pride and preserving the culture you’ve developed in spite of the constant pressure from the media and other white people to mix and assimilate into the new “neutral culture” and any form of “giving into that is seen as betrayal.
I used to be more towards assimilating and even wanting to be with white girls to “dilute my Indian genes” but now I’m starting to see how much I dislike the blandness of the “American” culture and part of me doesn’t want to assimilate as much anymore.
Do other cultures go through this? If a Scottish person doesn’t like haggis, are they given shit for not being “Scottish enough”?
I guess that’s where the “No true Scotsman” fallacy comes from.”- RagingSatyr
“Had one dude claim I was rolling my eyes any time I looked at him. I’m very quiet by nature, and extra careful with my words and tone. We can literally not do a damn thing, have no reaction, but will still get accused of having a bad attitude. We are often just fucked, no matter what.” –Kemokiro
“When you’re a black woman, you have to be strong, Super fucking Woman all the time but if you stand up for yourself, you’re an ‘angry black woman.’ But if you don’t uphold to strong stereotype and you any emotion other than strength like sadness, you’re weak and a black bitch with an attitude.” –beatlegirl95
“Idk where it was but awhile ago there was some post and in the picture there was a naked black girl and you could see her pubic mound (thehehe the phrase) . Comments starting pouring in like “omg wtf is that” “wow it’s just like a black hole isn’t it” “someone needs to get skin toner” so on and so forth. The only thing that gave me some hope is the highly upvoted comment along the lines of ‘ITT men and women who have never fucked or seen a black women naked’ Then it dawned on me; are black women so undesirable that a community, like Reddit ,that is seemingly obsessed with porn hasn’t even seen a black women naked, or is it just another way to put down women.” – mongoosedog12
“the angry black woman stereotype is by far the worst. you can never win with it i see people trashing black women and if i try to stand up for myself and other blacks people they claim i’m proving them right by having an attitude? i’ve literally seen where girls and latina girls act in the exact same manner, say the exact same thing and they are deemed as sexy while the black woman is ghetto and trashy.
people will legit interpret your actions to fit this stereotype like i’m an introverted person and people have said i was a bitch because i didn’t talk to them when another girl can do that and she’s just shy.
on multiple occasions i’ve looked in the general direction of an interracial couple (black man and other woman) and people said i was giving them dirty looks when i really do not care!
i also just hate the cognitive dissonance when it comes to the same thing with black men. most people would agree that it’s racist to generalize all black men saying they are all dead beat fathers, criminals, violent, etc but people seem to think it’s just a perfectly valid opinion to negatively generalize all black women. and it’s the worst when it comes from black men.” –woahwoahwoahwoa
“The fact that we are supposed to speak and act a certain way. The amount of times I’ve been called oreo just for the way I speak is disheartening. No, I’m not white on the inside thanks.” –moonscry
“What’s really annoying is when it comes from other black people. I had a cousin once say that I was so “white” that if I married a black man, my kids would come out biracial. These days, I try to treat it as a running joke because I see absolutely no reason to change myself to fit what “black” is supposed to be. I love Star Wars and video games and reading books by 19th century British women and dislike most rap music and I speak like any other educated person from the suburbs. This is who I am and people who believe that these things make me less black are the ones who have the problem.” –kaitco
“When I was really new to dating and desperate for love/attention/a bf, I ended up ‘dating’ this white guy… He would mention how he watches a lot of interracial porn and how his ultimate fantasy was to rent a plantation in Georgia and for me to be his sex slave…. I wish I was kidding.” –Stitch_Rose
“The worst thing I’ve had is being told I’m “too white” cos of how I talk. I grew up in a mainly white area and had more contact with my white side of the family (although my black family aren’t stereotypically black anyway), so why would I? Why must anyone with black in them be stereotypically black, am I not just as much white as I am black?”- RJturtle
“Dehumanization. If they don’t look at you with the empathy to acknowledge your humanity, they can justify anything that is done to you.
I suppose that’s a black problem to have in general, but it hits women hard too.” –AliceHouse
“I’m angry. I’m sassy. I’m ghetto. I could be a thief. I’m loud. I’m unintelligent. I’m close minded. I’m spiritual. I’m “manly”.
The only one that’s true for me is that I’m loud lol. And my GOD I hate the, “Wow! You speak very nice. You’re eloquent”. That’s a backhanded compliment; they expected me to sound a certain way JUST because I’m black. =A=; The fuck dude.”- FantasticHamburguesa
“I’m not sure I can pinpoint this to a specific stereotype, but when interacting with my customers, I’m questioned a lot more than my white or male coworkers. I often have to take male coworkers with me to deal with belligerent restaurant owners who just will not listen to me. It’s the racism+sexism combo, and it sucks. I’m not dumb because I’m black. I’m not dumb because I’m a woman.
When customers talk back or are rude, I have to try extra hard to be nice to them because they’re more likely to report be for being rude and hostile. It’s just their perception and it sucks so much. Edit: Remembered another one! My baby sister was born when I was 12 going on 13. I developed early and this lady in Kohl’s cooed at my sister, which scared her, causing her to reach for me. The lady said ‘Aw look, she just wants her mommy’ and I was like… what? Who? Me? I’m 13. There’s a comic strip that shows the difference in how white and black women are treated, I wish I could find it.
It also had a panel about how it’s assumed black people go to college because we’re simply minorities and filling up seats. Nope, I earned my $22k/year scholarship, thanks.” –TheYellowRose
“I hate the stereotypical backhanded comments. The “You speak so well, where did you grow up?/ You talk white”, the “You’re so pretty for a black girl,” or the worst one “It’s okay, you’re not really black though.”
First of all, I don’t remember there being official perimeters for being black and if there are, I sure didn’t get the memo. Just because I’m not generally outspoken, I like nerdy/geeky shit, and I have a white fiancé does not mean in any way I’m less black.
I also really hate it because not only does that comment imply to be black is something to be ashamed of or something lesser, it also negates all the bullshit I’ve have to deal with on a daily basis. Like oh, well you don’t see me as “black” but the store attendant that followed me through the entire Sprint store because he assumed I was there to steal something sure thought I was black enough.
I hate that I can’t fight back against any of these comments because I’ll be labeled an “angry black woman”. Nothing is more frustrating than to have legitimate reasons to be upset but if your octave goes up even a little, everything you say is invalidated because you’re just “an angry black woman complaining about everything.” –Slightlydazed49
“That I’m poor because I live on the south side of Chicago. I’m not smart & I look like I have a bad attitude/mean.
What’s so funny is, I was at a Walmart in Iowa, I was talking about all the places I’ve been to over the last 10 years and I was talking on the phone with my mom. Some white lady just kept looking at me in shock like….WOW. Then when I mentioned to having family in Toronto, Canada, her eyes got big as hell. Again, at Walmart, white woman clutching her purse….I go to pull out my wallet, just to fuck with her, , (oh and in my wallet, I have many credit cards, one of them is a beautiful platinum discover card), anyway she was looking shocked, like how did she get that.” –imtherealistonhere