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13 Books Every Latina Should Read at Least Once

There are so many incredible reads by Latino authors that every Latina should read at least once. The books are filled with characters that are magical, passionate, spiritual, powerful, opinionated, and determined to live a life full of integrity, honor, and meaning.  

We invite you to join us on a literary journey this summer! Let us know which one was your favorite and why! A leer se ha dicho.

Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (Spain)

Don Quixote de la Mancha

The novel of Don Quixote must be read by every Latina. It is the story of a man whose adventures teach him life’s harsh realities. It is a story about idealism vs. realism, about perseverance, honor, integrity, and moral dilemmas. There are some theories about what message or messages Cervantes wanted to share with its intended audience, but undoubtedly, it’s considered one of the best books ever written. Don Quixote’s love and passion for what’s ‘right’ is absolutely powerful. The story captures authentic aspects of the Spanish culture of that period (XVII century) exposing us to the popular and more refined Spanish language. This book was published in two parts, each ten years apart. It’s simply fascinating.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Álvarez (U.S./Dominican Republic)

In the Time of the Butterflies

This non-fiction novel tells the story of four revolutionary sisters during Trujillo’s dictatorship who decide to stand for what’s ‘right.’ Although their political activities come at a great cost, the Mirabal sisters teach us perseverance and a tremendous sense of honor; their passion exemplifies Latinas’ character.

Almost a Woman by Esmeralda Santiago (U.S./Puerto Rico)

Almost a Woman

A woman shares her childhood and adolescent experiences in which poverty takes a primary role. Set in Brooklyn, New York, this is the story of many young Latinas. Envision this: have you ever had to translate for your mother at the welfare office? Or have you ever had to compromise your heritage or culture or language? If yes, you must read this memoir.

I, Rigoberta Menchú by Rigoberta Menchú (Guatemala)

I, Rigoberta Mencha

Written by Nobel Peace Prize winner, Rigoberta MenchúI, Rigoberta Menchú is a story of survival, courage, and passion. It’s written in first person by an extraordinary woman whose tremendous leadership transcended across cultures, languages and countries. All of us can learn from Menchú’s character and intelligence.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez (Colombia)

One Hundred Years of Solitude

This masterpiece is considered the icon for magical realism, a genre that juxtaposes reality with fantastical features and in which time and duality play an important role.  Márquez, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1972, is considered the creator of magical realism. Covering over five generations, the story follows the lives of the Buendías in an extraordinary and magical way. Every Latina should read this story because it is considered one of Latin American’s best novels (if not the best) ever written by a Latin-American author.

The Dream and Reply to Sister Philotea by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (México)

Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz

Every Latina should read the works of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, an extraordinary Mexican woman, poet, and writer from the 17th century who was ahead of her time and whose intellect and brilliance must be shared with new generations of Latinas. She was a woman of conviction, tenacity, and bravery who knew that being an individual and sharing her thoughts and feelings was imperative to her integrity and to self-love.

Farmworker’s Daughter by Rose Castillo (U.S.)

Farmworker's Daughter

The memoir of this Mexican-American writer details her story growing up in a California farming community and struggling to learn English. This story invites you to reminisce about your childhood that certainly is similar to Ms. Castillo’s. The book also highlights the struggles of living in two very different worlds, culturally speaking.

Como agua para chocolate by Laura Esquivel (U.S.)

Como Agua Para Chocolate

If you like magic, fantasy and how that can juxtapose with the irresistible flavors that can come from the kitchen, you will absolutely adore this book. Published almost thirty years ago and based in the early 1900s, this book tells the story of a young woman whose family traditions will attempt to prevent her from finding love. Do they succeed or is love stronger than tradition? This is a must-read book because it centers around family traditions, love, passion, and moral dilemmas.

Malinche by Laura Esquivel (U.S.)

Malinche

La Malinche was known as a traitor by some and as someone who was trapped between two worlds with no choice by others. This is the story of Malinalli, a native young woman who was sold into slavery only to contribute to Moctezuma’s defeat by conquistador Hernán Cortés. Learn about this Mexican woman’s controversial historical life and about her struggles, her philosophy of life and her spiritual beliefs. Many claim that she, La Malinche or Malinalli, gave birth to the first Mexican child (or Mestizo), Martín Cortés, in the Americas.

The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende (Chile)

House of the Spirits

Isabel Allende’s first novel is a must read. The House of the Spirits, published in 1982 is an extraordinary story of a multigenerational family which traces post-colonial Chile’s social and political issues. The magical realism elements contribute to the story in a very interesting and powerful way. One of the main character’s powers are used to foresee the future. This is a story where female characters take a front row seat and from whom all women can learn greatly.

Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldúa (U.S.)

Borderlands La Frontera

Borderlands/La Frontera is a book that will challenge not only your Spanglish abilities, but your level of creativity in dissecting powerful metaphors. If you are bilingual you will love it, if you are monolingual, you’ll want to become bilingual! This Texan Chicana, is one of the most well-known writers of Chicano Literature. The books describe spirituality, linguistic challenges, sexuality, borderland culture, and much more. A must read to understand Chicano perspective.

All the Odes by Pablo Neruda (Chile)

All the Odes

Neruda was a master of the ode, a clever way of honoring everything that surrounded him. There is an ode to the onion as well as an ode to the sock. Neruda, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, is one of Latin America’s most well-known and best writers. He was not only a great poet, but he also served as a diplomat in his native Chile.

La Celestina by Fernando de Rojas (Spain)

La Celestina

The Tragicomedy of Calisto and Melibea, also known as La Celestina, was published in the late 1500s. It is a great story and considered one of Spanish literature’s best works. The story introduces La Celestina, a vivid, intriguing character who is full of life and who has become an icon in popular culture. The drama consists of a love story between Calisto and Melibea, a relationship with La Celestina as its voluntary liaison.