Summer is around the corner, and it’s time to come up with a reading list. Don’t forget to include these incredible books from your favorite — and soon-to-be favorite — Latino authors.
You expected The Alchemist to be first on the list, didn’t you? We’ll get to that later, worry not. In true Coelho style, this story tells of a mystical pilgrimage. The titular, Brida, struggles to find the balance between her destiny of becoming a witch (relatable) and her modern relationships, offering a powerful exploration of choice versus destiny in the form of a fable.
This collection offers 23 of Jorge Luis Borges’ stories, literary essays and short parables. Of particular note is “The Library of Babel,” one of his most famous works, which imagines the universe as a massive library that contains every book imaginable — written and yet to be written — and the madness it all inspires. Who doesn’t want a little madness mixed in with their summer reading?
The Sound of Things Falling
In this novel, Juan Gabriel Vásquez tells a tale set in both ’90s Bogotá (the novel’s present day) and at the height of the nation’s drug boom. True events are woven through the narrative, in an amazing mix of magical realism and heart-pounding action.
Pam Muñoz Ryan presents a fictionalized, poetic biography of poet Pablo Neruda as a child, dreaming of becoming a poet despite his strict, unyielding father. The beautifully written tale is heartfelt and inspires young readers (and slightly older ones, too) to embrace one’s gifts fully.
Inés of My Soul
Isabel Allende tells the story of Inés de Suárez, the real-life mistress of Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia, weaving real historical events into a compelling love story you will not be able to put down. The events are framed as the memories an aging Inés, from her early years as an impoverished seamstress in Spain to her lover’s horrific, ruthless struggle to establish Santiago.
Lorraine M. Lopez writes the story of Caridad, a bibliophile obsessed with Russian literature. The protagonist educates herself on matters of romance through reading and refuses to believe in the all-too realistic loves and losses she witnesses her mother and sisters experience.
The Alchemist (of course)
Paulo Coelho’s book The Alchemist should be re-read once a year because of all the rich life lessons it imparts. It’s the ultimate guide to navigating the universe, folded into the story of a shepherd quite literally following a dream in order to pursue his Personal Legend.
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Benjamin Alire Sáenz writes the beautiful story of two very different Mexican-American teens, Aristotle and Dante, who form a deep bond despite their different personalities. It’s a must-read for anyone who has 1) been a teenager and who has 2) been overjoyed/saddened/deeply perplexed by matters of love and identity. (So, all of us.)
Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Here, Gabriel Garcia Márquez presents a captivating metaphysical murder mystery truly unlike any other. In a small South American village, a young bride is found to have lost her virginity before her wedding night. Her brothers decide they must kill the man responsible. And, as if the story itself wasn’t fascinating enough, there’s the matter of the lawsuit surrounding its origin.
The People of Paper
Salvador Plascencia’s work of experimental fiction centers around the idea of an author’s relationship to his creations. Plascencia places himself into his characters’ world, even going to war with them, and utilizes the literal page in innovative ways, playing with text, spacing and literally cutting a specific name completely out of the book. You won’t just read this book; you’ll experience it.
Ways of Going Home
In Ways of Going Home, Chilean author Alejandro Zambra blurs the lines between the author and narrator to tell the story of a breakup, Chile’s history and two highly metaphorical earthquakes.
This Is How You Lose Her
Junot Diaz writes a fantastically twisted tale of love, love lost and the weakness of the human heart when it comes to loving. In this collection of short stories, the Pulitzer Prize winner uses Spanglish and colloquial language to help create a fully believable world and characters. We’re insist you read all of his books, but definitely start with this one.
Think we missed a book by your favorite Latino author? Share your favorite, below.