For the month of September my IRL book club's theme is to read books written by Hispanic authors. This is another great chance to enhance the diversity in your reading life. Publishing tends to heavily publish books by white authors, and when you're more intentional about what you read, you gain a better reading experience, and a better empathy for a larger portion of the people who live on this planet along side us all. Basically, we should read widely and diversely and this is a good way to do it or at least take a look at your reading and make an effort to be more intentional about reading things by people who don't like like you every once in a while or more often than usual.
In my own research for this theme, I noticed there's a lot more to choose from for Hispanic authors than there was to pick from for Indigenous authors, but it's still not a very large group. Hello, publishing? Let's go! We need more books by these groups of people. We need their stories. Vote with your dollars if you can, even using the library to get these books helps. Go read them! Anyway.
Here's a few places to start. Please leave me your suggestions in the comments at the end of the post:
The Book of Unknown Americans, by Christina Henriquez - this book is one that is on my Be A Better Person syllabus (not actually a real thing - yet), and was really crucial in opening my world view. It tells the heart wrenching story of a family who has a daughter in need of specific medical care and the lengths they go to in order to find help for her. It forces you to think about what you wouldn't do for your family, your loved ones, your children. It presents a reality that is lived by many people in our nation today. It made me cry, made me necessarily uncomfortable, and my heart grew three sizes when I finished reading it. It's worth every page and will make you think more critically about how policies impact real people.
Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra - one of my favorite books of all time and one that I need to re-read ASAP. This book blew my mind so much, to realize the whimsy and delight that stories carry across languages, decades, and continents was magic to me when I read it in high school. I resonated with it's weirdness and I was so not expecting to. I'm excited to read it again.
Echo, by Pam Muñoz Ryan - such a beautiful middle grade book that weaves time so well. Ryan writes with a musical tone in this book that actual deals quite a lot with a harmonica. I devoured it as an adult and have heard great things about the audiobook. It's touching and exquisitely written.
On My List:
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, by Erika L. Sánchez
One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel García Márquez
The House on Mango Street, by Sandra Cisneros
Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel
The House of the Spirits, by Isabel Allende
Esperanza Rising, by Pam Muñoz Ryan (middle grade)
The Shadow of the Wind, by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Merci Suárez Changes Gears, by Meg Medina (winner of the 2019 Newbery Medal)
A Dash of Trouble, by Anna Meriano (middle grade)
Gods of Jade and Shadow, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Caramelo, by Sandra Cisneros
Something I recently learned, that I should've already known, is the difference between the words Hispanic and Latino. Often these terms are used interchangeably, and I've definitely made the mistake and assumption that they could be used to mean the same thing. They actually mean two very different things. Hispanic refers to people to are from Spanish-speaking populations and/or speak Spanish themselves, and Latino refers to people who are from or descend from people who are from Latin America. I apologize for not learning this sooner!
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