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Get On It: 13 Books By Latino Authors You Should Have Read By Now

Mariner / Amazing

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.

Brida

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Credit: Harper Perennial/Amazon

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.

Labyrinths

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Credit: New Directions/Amazon

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

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Credit: Riverhead Books/Amazon

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.

The Dreamer

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Credit: Scholastic/Amazon

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

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Credit: Harper/Amazon

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.

The Darling

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Credit: University of Arizona Press/Amazon

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)

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Credit: HarperOne/Amazon

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

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Credit: Simon & Schuster/Amazon

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

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Credit: Vintage/Amazon

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

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Credit: Mariner/Amazon

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

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Credit: Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Amazon

In Ways of Going HomeChilean 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

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Credit: Riverhead Books/Amazon

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.

READ: These Latino Authors Will Help Get You Through a Breakup

Think we missed a book by your favorite Latino author?  Share your favorite, below.

Lil Libros Finally Adds Musician Ritchie Valens To The List Of Icons Highlighted In Bilingual Children’s Books

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Lil Libros Finally Adds Musician Ritchie Valens To The List Of Icons Highlighted In Bilingual Children’s Books

lillibros.com

Lil’ Libros has been gifting Latino parents the gift of a single children’s book read in two languages to promote bilingualism in Latino niños around the world. The stories are all about Latino icons that have shaped and defined our culture throughout history, honoring stories like Mexican painter Frida Kahlo and Cuban music legend, Celia Cruz. With nearly 20 books in the collection so far, we thought Lil’ Libros couldn’t get any cuter or more relevant until it added the story of Ricardo “Ritchie” Valenzuela in “The Life of / La Vida de: Ritchie.”

The children’s book will cover all the highlights of Ritchie’s life.

Credit: lil_libros / Instagram

“Born May 13, 1941, Ritchie Valens was a Mexican-American singer, songwriter, and guitarist,” reads the book description. “His musical journey began at age 5 when his father encouraged him to take up guitar. In high school, he made his performing debut with the band The Silhouettes. At 17, Ritchie recorded his final record, which included classics like “Donna” and “La Bamba”. That record went on to sell over one million copies. To this day, Ritchie  Valens’ music lives on in the hearts of many!”

Ritchie followed his passions, and they became a gift to the music world.

Credit: lil_libros / Instagram

Ritchie is considered the father of the Chicano rock movement. He was the son of two Mexican immigrants, born in the Los Angeles valley as Richard Steven Valenzuela. Even though Ritchie was left-handed, he taught himself how to play the guitar, trumpet, and drums, and was so in love with music, he learned it all with a dominant right hand. He was always bringing his guitar to his high school to play for his friends. By the time he was 16 years old, he was invited to join The Silhouettes, and eventually became the lead singer. He only released two records during his lifetime, and is best known for “La Bamba.” He’s also known for being the first Latino to successfully cross over into the U.S. mainstream rock genre, inspiring Selena, Café Tacuba, Los Lobos, Los Lonely Boys, and even Carlos Santana to fuse Latinidad with rock.

We *doubt* they’ll include that Ritchie dropped out of high school.

Credit: lil_libros / Instagram

He became a raging success with the release of his first and only three records and dropped out of school to keep up with his career. Ritchie actually didn’t know any Spanish, and his family only spoke English and Spanglish in their house. He learned to sing “La Bamba” in Spanish by learning the song phonetically. Just this year, The U.S. Library of Congress selected “La Bamba” to be preserved in the National Recording Registry as “culturally, historically, and aesthetically significant.”

Or Ritchie’s tragic death by a plane crash at just 17 years old.

Credit: lil_libros / Instagram

Ritchie had a fear of flying that he eventually overcome throughout his short-lived music career. His fear started during the second term of his junior year in high school. Two airplanes collided over the school’s playground on January 31, 1957, killing and injuring several of his friends. It all happened while Ritchie was at his abuelo’s funeral. His first flight was to Philadelphia to appear on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand show, where he performed “Come On, Let’s Go.” The following month, he was flying to Hawaii to perform with Buddy Holly and Paul Anka.

Ritchie won a coin toss that fateful February 2, 1959 winter day in Iowa that won him a spot on a small plane that would later crash and kill everyone on the plane. His band had been traveling by tour bus throughout the Midwest without adequate heating, causing them all to catch the flu and, in one case, even frostbite. They were desperate to get on a flight out, and only the guitarist, Tommy Allsup, and bassist Waylon Jennings were spared, simply because they lost their coin tosses. 

Ritchie took off at 12:55 am and crashed just minutes later.

Credit: lil_libros / Instagram

Still, nobody knows why the plane crashed. It killed everyone on impact. Ritchie suffered a blunt force trauma to the chest and unsurvivable head injuries, dying at just 17 years old. His death inspired Don McLean to write “American Pie,” forever remembering February 3 as “The Day the Music Died.” The music may have died by Ritchie’s legacy continues to live on, now in both Spanish and English at storytimes.

READ:

A Children’s Alphabet Book About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Talks About ‘A’ And ‘F’ Words

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A Children’s Alphabet Book About Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Talks About ‘A’ And ‘F’ Words

The appeal of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is undeniable, ever since she was elected to represent New  York’s 14th district last year she’s been making headlines. Her story is an inspiring rise to fame from being born and raised in the Bronx to repping her neighborhood as the youngest congresswoman in U.S. history.  Cementing her iconic status is her bold push against the status quo in government, promoting progressive plans and unapologetically being true to herself. These are just some of the reasons she’s come to represent the modern-day empowered, socially conscious politician that serves as an inspiration for women of all ages. 

So why not put her in a book?

A new book titled The ABCs of AOC: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez from A to Z is due to debut this October. 

Feminist Press Executive Director & Publisher and author Jamia Wilson and illustrator Krystal Quiles teamed up to showcase AOC’s story and history-making career in the alphabet book.

Wilson is a feminist activist also striving for change and so she created this book to honor a woman whose views are in line with her own and clearly many other young women. 

 “AOC shows kids of all races and genders that they are never too young to speak up, take action, and make a change in their community,” she told Romper. “Her historic ascent illustrates the power of curiosity, courage, and using your voice to support and inspire others. Whether readers are interested in activism, education, civics, feminism, or science they’ll connect with the story of her heroic journey from the Bronx to the House.”

The book includes words like “Xenophobia,” “Grassroots,” and “Feminist,” and “Advocate” with art that has AOC in her famous white power suit, red lips, and gold hoops. 

The Boricua congresswoman has been working toward making big changes since she took office when she was 29, having previously been a bartender as well as worked for Sen. Ted Kennedy and presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders. 

Her main focus has been the Green New Deal which aims to convert the U.S. economy to renewable energy in the next 12 year, encouraging job creation and innovations in technology. She also supports Medicare for everyone, free public college, and abolishing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). All causes that are especially relevant for younger generations and popular issues among young voters. 

As an avid user of social media, she uses her various platforms to inform followers and call out politicians including the president, recently tweeting about Trump’s behavior regarding his alleged sexual assault. 

With more than five million followers on Twitter and almost four million on Instagram, she’s become one of – if not the – most popular House member on social.

But in addition to her government takedowns and fact-checking tweets, she’s also loud and proud when it comes to her Latinidad and her style. 

Lip+hoops were inspired by Sonia Sotomayor, who was advised to wear neutral-colored nail polish to her confirmation hearings to avoid scrutiny. She kept her red. Next time someone tells Bronx girls to take off their hoops, they can just say they’re dressing like a Congresswoman,” she tweeted earlier this year. 

No wonder one of the words in the book is “feminist.” After all, that feminist power was evident when she stood up against Trump earlier this month when he tweeted that she and three other female progressive Democrats should all “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came.”

AOC, along with congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, and Rashida Tlaib then formed what’s now known as “The Squad” in response. Today they have become a fixture of the power of women of color in politics. All four were elected to the House last year, making Congress the most diverse it’s ever been in U.S. history. 

“AOC shows kids of all races and genders that they are never too young to speak up, take action, and make a change in their community,” Wilson told Romper. 

Wilson isn’t the first writer to want to share AOC’s story, in May Devil’s Due Comics released a special issue called Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Freshman Forcefeaturing her taking on the Republicans in various scenarios. Volume II features “The Squad” and comes out in December of this year. 

“The ABCs of AOC” Illustrator Quiles, also from the Bronx, notes that wherever you land in the political spectrum, AOC’s fierce spirit and audacious goals are admirable either way. 

“Regardless of political stance, AOC has tenacity, grit, and pride — qualities that should be passed on to our children and are reminders for our adult selves,” she told Romper. “As a woman born in The Bronx of Puerto Rican heritage, I think about all the kids living off the last stops of the 1,2,4,5,6 and D lines that can look up and see someone like AOC fighting for everything she believes in. It gives me hope for a brighter future.”

In a political climate that’s marginalizing women, immigrants, and people of color, AOC’s anti-establishment stance is now going to inspire younger generations, especially children of color, to realize they too can make history and fight for their beliefs. 

The book is available October 1 but you can  preorder it now.