Our history may not often be taught in schools but there are countless books dedicated to telling our stories and for Latinx Heritage Month (but really all year long) we want to honor those stories. We at HipLatina love to shine a light on the authors that are using their words to enlighten and educate us on topics like identity, history, and representation. While this list is not exhaustive (there’s no way to list all the amazing works out there), we did want to include a variety of genres to provide an array of options that all still center Latinidad. From personal narratives like Dominicana by Angie Cruz to academic and informative texts like Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America, here are 18 books centering Latinx stories that are must-reads:
Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano
The book tracks exploitation and the resistance in Latin America across five centuries of European settlement. Galeano’s work has set the standard for historical scholarship since its release in 1971. To get a better understanding of the struggles and suffering in LATAM countries this is a must-read. Though it’s more on the academic side it’s definitely a must-read if you want to understand the complicated history of LATAM.
Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano, $14, available at Amazon
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
The novel by Dominican author Julia Alvarez is a coming of age story informed by an immigrant narrative and themes of acculturation. This is a story for those who share this experience or wish to learn more about it through the lens of four sisters growing up in between two cultures.
How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez, $15, available at Amazon
A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn
If you’ve watched John Leguizamo’s Latin History for Morons special, this is the book that it is based on. The book by Howard Zinn starts off strong by discussing violence and colonization against Native Americans. This historic breakdown is a stark contrast to the versions we’ve been taught as it tells the story from the perspective of those subjugated to oppressive systems, colonization, and genocide.
A People History of the United States by Howard Zinn, $14, available at Amazon
Reel Latinxs: Representation in US Film and TV by Christopher González, Frederick Luis Aldama
Reel Latinxs covers the representation of Latinx and Chicanx people in U.S. films including common tropes such as the Latina spitfire to the Latinx dancing body. To gain a better understanding and historical timeline of the progression of Latinx representation in the media, Reel Latinxs is a great read and source of terms to attach to the patterns we see in how we have been portrayed.
Reel Latinxs: Representation in US Film and TV by Christopher González, Frederick Luis Aldama
$14, available at Amazon
Finding Latinx: In Search of the Voices Redefining Latino Identity by Paola Ramos
The prototype of the Latinx identity is constantly challenged by young Latinxs redefining their identity. Paola Ramos analyzes the controversial term “Latinx” and the people who encompass it by meeting different communities across the country from environmentalists to farmworkers, sharing their takes.
Finding Latinx: In Search of the Voices Redefining Latino Identity by Christopher González, Frederick Luis Aldama, $11, available at Amazon
An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz
Paul Ortiz covers the shared struggles between African-Americans and Latinx people in this politically charged narrative of history. He discusses the “Day Without Immigrants” and activists’ fight against Jim Crow Laws. The information put forth gives perspective to a history that has lead to the oppression of many groups and that as a result, their shared struggles.
An African American and Latinx History of the United States by Paul Ortiz, $15, available at Barnes & Noble
Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli
Tell Me How It Ends tracks the reality of the experiences of undocumented immigrants through 40 questions asked to children facing deportation. The book addresses themes like the American Dream and the current immigration crisis.
Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in Forty Questions by Valeria Luiselli, $13, available at Amazon
My Time Among the Whites: Notes From an Unfinished Education by Jennine Capó Crucet
For first-generation Latinxs, the country we’re born in does not always feel like home when navigating predominantly white, non-Latinx spaces. Capo Crucet addresses this unique experience through her own journey as the daughter of Cuban refugees raised in Miami in places like a rodeo in Nebraska and a attending Cornell University.
My Time Among the Whites: Notes from An Unfinished Education by Jennine Capo Crucet, $17, available at Amazon
Dominicana: A Novel by Angie Cruz
Angie Cruz’s Domincana is an immigrant story layered by the complexities of a coming-of-age narrative and the expectations placed upon Latinas. The book is loosely based on her mother’s life to share the reality many Dominican immigrants face.
Dominicana by Angie Cruz, $17, available at Amazon
A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant’s Son by Sergio Troncoso
This First Place winner for Best Collection of Short Stories (English or Bilingual) from the International Latino Book Awards, details the hardships of immigrants’ experiences by touching upon the loss of one’s culture in the pursuit of assimilating to a new life away from home.
A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant’s Son by Sergio Troncoso, $17, available at Amazon
Latina Outsiders: Remaking Latina Identity by Grisel Y. Acosta
Latina Outsiders explores the complex diversity within Latina identities. There is a specific type of Latina identity that is portrayed in mainstream media (typically the “Spicy Latina.”). What this academic writing does is be inclusive of outside perspectives such as that of Afro-Latinas and differently-abled individuals, often left out of the bigger picture of Latinx identity and culture.
Latina Outsiders Remaking Latina Identity by Grisel Y. Acosta, $49, available at Amazon
Colonize This!: Young Women Of Color On Today’s Feminism By Daisy Hernández & Bushra Rehman
Colonize This! includes a diverse group of writers who speak on community and the issues needed to be addressed in order to achieve racial freedom. This centers on the narratives of women of color, written by women of color.
Colonize This! Young Women Of Color On Today’s Feminism by Daisy Hernandez & Bushra Rehman, $12, available at Amazon
The Undocumented Americans By Karla Cornejo Villavicencio
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, one of the first undocumented immigrants to graduate from Harvard, details the experiences of undocumented Americans. She reports on undocumented workers recruited for the Ground Zero cleanup and DREAMer activists, while also intertwining her own story in the discussion of these often untold stories.
The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, $13, available at Amazon
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
This riveting YA novel and 2018 National Book Award winner portrays—in verse—a story of rebellion and coming-of-age. The book centers on Xiomara or “X” as she navigates conflicts within her family, from religion to feminism. Xiomara refuses to stay silent in a world that doesn’t uplift her voice, an experience many Latinas and women of color can identify with while reading.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, $10, available at Amazon
The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende
The trailblazing writer, Isabel Allende, brings to us her most recent memoir, expressing thoughts on feminism and the facets of womanhood. The book narrates her time coming-of-age within the context of the feminist movements of the 60s, ultimately leading to new realizations as a woman, mother, and partner. This memoir born out of the pandemic is the perfect read for Latinas to reflect on their own identity and position within the public sphere.
The Soul of a Woman by Isabel Allende, $12, available at Amazon
The [email protected] Reader by Miriam Jimenez Roman and Juan Flores
The [email protected] Reader puts the spotlight on people of African descent from Latin America and the Caribbean—a large, yet often forgotten, community. This book is a collection of many forms of media from scholarly essays to poetry, presenting the view of Black Latinxs in the U.S., as well as highlighting their cultural contributions.
Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism by Laura E. Gomez
Inventing Latinos tackles Latinos’ dynamic racial identity as well as our influence as a demographic. Laura Gomez also points to the U.S.’s role in migration patterns due to their political presence and interference within Latin American countries.
Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism by Laura E. Gomez, $23, available at Amazon
Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race by Laura E. Gomez
Manifest Destinies presents the complex history of Mexican-Americans and how they have been racialized in both the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. An important read in understanding not only history but also racial injustices and the circumstances that have led to race classification as we see it today.
Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race by Laura E. Gomez, $24, available at Amazon