Top 10 Must Read Books in Honor of Latinx Heritage Month 2020

By Rae Lipkin

What does Latinx mean and what is Latinx Heritage Month? 

Latinx is a newer term that has gained popularity among scholars, activists and millennials that is inclusive of gender-expansive and gender non-conforming individuals. Additionally, “Latinx” challenges the binary nature of the Spanish-language term Latino(a).

The powerful “X” has opened the door to a variety of identities, and it is also used in the term “Chicanx(o/a)” to highlight the broad indigenous heritage of many groups. We use the word “Latinx” to represent the identities of non-binary, gender non-conforming and gender-expansive people. “Latinx” also centers the lives of indigenous, Brazilian and other non-Spanish speaking people in this celebration. 

Latinx Heritage Month is a time (September 15 - October 15) in which we amplify, and recognize the contributions of Latinx people in the United States and beyond. This month is a time to celebrate those with origins and ancestors from Mexico, the Caribbean, Spain, and Central and South America. 

Now that we know what we are celebrating let’s get down to how you can support the Latinx community in what we read! 

Young Adult + Middle Grade
1. Juliet Takes a Breath by Gabi Rivera 

Rivera packs a punch this is heartwarming novel about Juliet, a queer latinx from the Bronx, who interns for the summer with her favorite author in her home in Oregon. This coming of age novel is realistic, funny, and at times both heartbreaking and beautiful. 


2. Clap When you Land by Elizabeth Acevedo 

 

If you read anything, read Acevedo. This novel-in-verse is breathtakingly beautiful in its depiction of grief and love. Set in both the Dominican Republic and New York, two girls are grieving over the death of their father. Little do they know that they share the same father and that each other exists. Loss, forgiveness, and triumphant love seeps through the verses one page at a time. 


3. Woven in Moonlight by Isabel Ibañez

Born from Bolivian immigrants, Ibañez writes a tale of modern day magical realism that would make her Bolivian ancestors proud. Full of romance, magic, and female power, this epic story tells the tale of Ximena, a tapestry weaver where she can spin thread from moonlight and a decoy Condesa. Woven in Moonlight is a story about revolution and love. 


4. Letters from Cuba by Ruth Behar 

In the height of World War 2, a young Jewish girl from Poland flees to Cuba to work with her father to rescue and send help for her family that’s left behind. This middle grade novel portrays humanity at its worst and at its best, both proving that kindness can create family and build community. 


Adult Fiction

5. Dominicana by Angie Cruz 

Fifteen year old Ana Cancion knows only her Dominican town, her family, and her close friends. Until she is married off and sent to go live in New York City on the eve of 1965. Ana’s journey will lead her to finding out what the world has to offer and what she is capable of in this coming of age novel and immigrant story. 


6. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

Dive into this mystery thriller novel set in the glamorous 1950s Mexico for an adventure involving isolated english castles, weird mushrooms, and creepy characters! Garcia does a wonderful job making you feel uncomfortable and eager all at the same time. 


7. You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria 

Telenovela meets a classic romance tale of two stubbornly aware characters desperate to get in their own way. Jasmine and Ashton both act in a hit tv show and when they are forced together their chemistry is electric and wonderful. Daria does not shy away from explicit sexual intimacy but she also brings a touch of reality to her scenes that make it all the more relatable and swoon-worthy. 


8. Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado 

In this series of short stories Machado offers a wide variety of genres that will suit any reader's needs. From sci-fi to horror, or funny and outright humorous, Machado brings all her talents to each of her stories. 


Classic Fiction 

9. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Marquez, a Columbian born author, is best known for defining a genre, magical realism, in this book 100 Years of Solitude. Marquez writes eloquently in this novel portraying the Buendia family as they balance the need for love and the need for solitude. 


10. Full Woman, Fleshly Apple, Hot Moon by Pablo Neruda 

This nearly fifty poem collection was written in Neruda’s mature period, when he was in his fifties, where he focuses on passion, spirituality, and reflections. This collection offers a bi-lingual reading experience in both english and spanish where the reader can enjoy the original and the translation side-by-side. Neruda is a Chilean author renowned for his poetry. 


No matter what you read from now till October 15 or beyond, by supporting Latinx writers, authors, poets, and the like you’ll be amplifying voices that have been oppressed in our mainstream media. 


Take care and enjoy reading!