11 Books to Read by Latinx Authors in Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month

Stories are a powerful way to connect audiences to various Latinx and Hispanic cultures, histories, and unique perspectives. Check out these 11 books by Latinx authors to read for Hispanic Heritage Month.

Hispanic Heritage Month begins September 15th through October 15th, marking the anniversary of independence of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Throughout the month, celebrations take place to honor and pay  tribute to the cultures and contributions of U.S. Hispanic and Latinx communities — and how  they’ve influenced the history, culture, and achievements of the United States. If you’re  celebrating by way of food, festivals, attending cultural events, and family gatherings, here’s  another activity to add to your list: reading the following books by these standout Latinx authors.  

From horror and fiction to memoirs and short stories, each book listed here will be sure to teach you something in relation to Hispanic and Latinx authors and their cultures (or hold a narrative that you  may very well relate to), and tug at your heart strings. 

1. In the Time of the Butterflies – Julia Alvarez  

This is a special (if not bittersweet) treat for historical fiction lovers, in this powerful novel  following the Mirabal sisters: Minerva, Patria, María Teresa, and Dedé. Set in 1960, under the  Trujillo dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, the story is based on real-life events  surrounding these historical women – known as “las mariposas” or “the butterflies” – and their  involvement in the revolution. While the author writes fictionalized accounts from the  perspective of each sister leading up to their tragic assassinations (save for the survivor, Dedé),  this re-telling of the tragedy brings new life to these heroes, making it a heart-wrenching, if not  inspiring read.  

2. Finding Latinx: In Search of the Voices Redefining Latino Identity – Paola Ramos

Paola Ramos is a Mexican, Cuban, and American journalist. She’s also the host and  correspondent of Vice News, a contributor to Telemundo News and MSNBC — and author of a  hit debut book that pushes boundaries, by way of dissecting and celebrating the ways that  young Latinos are redefining and reclaiming their identities. Ramos seeks to amplify the voices of the underrepresented and shed light on what it means to be Latinx, all the while highlighting  how it’s affecting the U.S. culturally, socially, and politically like never before. 

3. Ordinary Girls: A Memoir – Jaquira Díaz 

Most girls and women can attest to the challenge of “coming of age,” and Díaz recounts her  journey of girlhood and upbringing in Puerto Rican and the U.S. beautifully, though her memoir  tackles some tough topics surrounding sexuality, mental health, and sexual assault. Simply put,  it’s real, raw, and definitely worth the read. 

4. At Night We Walk in Circles – Daniel Alarcón 

Now here’s a great read for anyone that loves mess. Readers follow Nelson, a young actor  facing hardships at home, in love, and in his acting pursuits. That is, until he lands a role in the  controversial play, The Idiot President, alongside his hero Henry Nunez, (who happens to be the  leader of the storied guerrilla theater troupe Diciembre, NBD). The plot is rich with suspense,  antics, and you guessed it – lots and lots of drama. But it’s not all fun and games, as Nelson  writes of a landscape imprinted by the civil war, as he embarks on a tour unlike anything  readers have likely ever experienced (or read) before. 

5. Mexican Gothic – Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

This is a Goodreads Choice Winner for Horror circa 2020, but for thriller lovers and mystery seekers, a book like this will probably be read and re-read for years to come, with all the love,  lore, and rich character development that this novel packs. The protagonist, Noemí Taboada,  heads to High Palace in the Mexican countryside to check on her newlywed cousin, who seems  to be having issues in her new home – which is about as creepy as the company it keeps. We’re talking a super cold husband and equally odd in-laws, and something seriously off about a  middle-of-nowhere mansion that doesn’t quite feel so homey. It’s a wild ride with an ending  that readers will never see coming. 

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6. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao – Junot Díaz 

The Pulitzer Prize for Fiction may have been awarded to Díaz in 2008 for this iconic piece of  literary fiction, but it’s still a gem decades later, for those that have yet to immerse themselves  in the Domincan-American experience (and history) by way of Oscar, a lovesick nerd with a  fierce mother and equally fiery sister – whose voices also come to fruition. As this novel and his  others show, he’s well adept at writing brutal yet beautiful works of literature — rooted in  Dominican culture — and bringing to life truly well-developed characters. 

7. The House on Mango Street – Sandra Cisneros 

Most people read for pleasure, but did you know reading can improve your health – even help  you sleep? If you’re looking for a nice wind-down book before bed, look no further than the  critically acclaimed comfort book that tells the story of Esperanza Cordero. Through a series of  vignettes, readers all over the world have fallen in love with the Latina girl growing up in  Chicago, and as this book is partly biographical, partly fiction – it pays homage to the Cisneros’s  own history, yes, but also her influence on generations past and generations to come, whether  they’re Hispanic or not. 

8. One Hundred Years of Solitude – Gabriel García Márquez 

Every book has a story outside of the story it tells, and this timeless classic is no exception, as  this treasure became an unexpected classic. The story follows the Buendia family, chronicling their journey through marriages, wars, births and deaths, technological advances, invasions by gypsies, and so much more. There’s a lot of names and characters to keep track of, but it’s  worth the extra brain power for a story that has stolen many readers’ hearts. 

9. We Are Not From Here – Jenny Torres Sanchez

Three teens attempt to cross the Mexican border into the U.S. for safety, and a better future, in  this emotional, heartfelt novel by Sanchez. Pequeña, Pulga and Chico may be characters of  fiction, but they speak to a very true and heart-wrenching reality that the author lays out on the  table for readers to unpack, chapter by chapter, as events unfold for better and worse in this  thought-provoking, timely masterpiece.  

10. Vida – Patricia Engel 

Engel’s “Infinite Country” may be her latest well-received release, but this debut is worth just as  many accolades. In this collection of short stories, Engel explores the Colombian diaspora,  strong (if not stifling) family ties, and identity through Sabina – a young girl as lost as she is  fearless, trying to figure out who she is and her place in the world.  

11. Halsey Street – Naima Coster 

Coster is a seriously talented Dominican-American writer that has crafted a deeply compelling  story, as it explores the relationship between artist Penelope and her mother, Mirella, as well  as gentrification, immigration, healing, and then some – all the while successfully weaving  together African American and Latin American narratives into one emotionally cohesive work of  art. 


Christina

Christina Colon is a creative writer, storyteller, and strategist based in NJ/NY. She loves a good  book, podcast, show, or city spot – preferably paired with iced coffee. She’s deeply passionate  about amplifying the voices of Latinx/BIPOC communities, and empowering women to live their  best lives, personally and professionally.

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