If there’s one thing Latinos are known for, it’s the powerful, moving, and rich stories they tell. Authors like Paulo Coelho, Isabel Allende, and Gabriel García Márquez have taken the world by storm with their vibrant prose and unique storytelling. It’s a shame, then, that Latinos make up only 6% of the American publishing industry.
Regardless, there are almost endless amount of Latino-centric books to delve in to–a testament to the untapped talent of an entire ethnic group. In honor of Latinx Heritage Month, we’ve compiled a definitive list of Latinx books we should all have on our book shelves. We did not discriminate by genre, age group, or popularity–after all, the Latino experience is a wide-ranging one.
1.Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan
“I remember reading this book and being able to understand the family dynamic. I loved being able to pronounce and recognize some of the names, and ultimately that factor of relatability helped me feel seen.” – Jessica Ruvalcaba
2. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz
“The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” is a sprawling, offbeat tale of an overweight Dominican American nerd who has an unflinching belief in true love. Full of Spanglish prose and magical realism, this 2008 novel won both the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.
3. Too Many Tamales, by Gary Soto
“Books like these were some of the first pieces of literature/representation of being Mexican American that I saw as a kid in school and I’m thankful my teachers had us read it! The book by Gary Soto tells the story of kids who think a ring has made its way into one of the Christmas tamales and the perfect solution? Eat as many as possible in order to find the ring! It’s cute for kids and a must read for Christmas time!” – Rosario Moreno
4. The House On Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
“This book truly showed me how precious my culture is. I loved the story and I put myself in it as Esperanza Cordero. It taught me many things about life and about my cultura. I could relate to Esperanza growing up. My family was not the richest, my dad was struggling to make ends meet and my mom was working overtime just to help pay the bills. The House On Mango Street really opened my eyes and showed me that I am not alone.” – Jenny Arias
5. Cien Años de Soledad, by Gabriel García Márquez
“One Hundred Years of Solitude is a 20th century classic. His characters and emotions, although rustic, are universal. What I find most admirable is the way of transmitting the environments of places, smells, colors, the passage of time, etc … without delay, as in some novels, in long and sometimes soporific descriptions of the landscape.” – Julio Bethelmy
6. Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
A coming-of-age tale about morality, culture, and family, Rudolfo Anaya’s seminal Chicano novel is timeless. Set in 1940s New Mexico, this book follows the story of seven-year-old Antonio Márez as he grows and learns under the tutelage of his abuela, the wise curandera named Ultima.
7. The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
This multigenerational blockbuster novel has been on many a summer reading list since its 1982 debut. And for good reason! This epic tale of class struggle, feminism, and fate is rife with plenty of Latin American magical realism. This book explores the highs and lows of the human experience; the tragedy, the love, and perseverance through suffering.
8. Como Agua Para Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel
“I loved, loved, loved that this book had traditional Mexican recipes within the story. Somehow, they were always perfect for what was happening within the plot, and it really inspired me to look deeper into recipes and the story that each one told.” – Jessica Ruvalcaba
9. Remixing Reggaetón: The Cultural Politics of Race in Puerto Rico, by Petra R. Rivera-Rideau
“I found this book in college and once I started reading, I couldn’t stop! This book lays out the history of reggaeton from a racial/political lens, specifically in Puerto Rico (but doesn’t skip Panamá’s role!) and gives SO much context to the music we grew up listening to. Author Petra R. Rivera-Rideau keeps this book short (169 pages), but informative so you get a good understanding of the other Latin genres and cultural/social/political circumstances that influenced reggaeton. Rivera-Rideau explains how Afro-Latinos created reggaeton from several critical angles, and I really appreciated getting to educate myself about the early days . If you’re a fan of reggaeton and want to learn more about the roots of the music, read this one!” – Rosario Moreno
10. The Inheritance of Orquidea Divina, by Zoraida Córdova
“I actually just finished this book like last week and it only took me like 1 week to finish. It was such a beautiful homage to Latin American folklore and magic. Every story or all of the magic that your abuelas spoke about is captured in this book and it takes you on such a wild ride through the perspective of her grandchildren who end up finding their Latinidad through their grandmother’s inheritance. You really just have to read it to experience it fully!” – Tatiana Ramirez
Discuss these books with your friends, family, and book club members! There is so much to learn and experience from these incredible Latinx authors. What are some of the books you have in your home library?
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