Approximately 95 percent of published American novels from 1950 to 2018 were written by white authors, even though they only account for 60 percent of the population. And in the publishing industry itself, only six percent identify as Latinx across various fields that includes executive level positions, editorial staff, sales, and literary agents. The numbers are even less for people of Black, Indigenous, and Middle Eastern descent.
Even with the push toward more inclusive hiring practices and concerted efforts across the publishing industry to buy more books by authors of color, those same writers have been told publishers don’t know how to market their novels. So this Latinx Heritage Month, make a concerted effort to support books written by Latinx authors. All are available through large commercial retailers like Amazon—but if you are able to take it a step further, you can also purchase from a Black or Latinx-owned independent bookstore.
Classic reads by Latinx authors include One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros, any of Elizabeth Acevedo’s best-selling books, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, to name a few. If you’re a comic book fan, consider reading La Boriqueña by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez. Anthology fans may enjoy Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed edited by Saraciea J. Fennell.
Below, we rounded up fifteen more must-read books by Latinx authors from heart-wrenching memoirs to steamy romances. This is a non-exhaustive list, and more Latinx recommendations can be found on Latinx Reads, an Instagram dedicated to books written by, for, and about Latinxs.
1. Sabrina & Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
Sabrina & Corina is an award-winning collection of stories about indigenous Latinas in Colorado that delves into hard truths about race, femininity, friendship, and violence against women.
2. Dominicana by Angie Cruz
Inspired by her mother’s own story, Angie Cruz’s Dominicana follows 15-year-old Ana Cancion as she marries a man twice her age and moves from the Dominican Republic to New York City and the emotional turmoil that follows. Amazon touted the book as a “vital portrait of the immigrant experience and the timeless coming-of-age story of a young woman finding her voice in the world.”
3. In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
Nearly thirty years after its publication, In the Time of Butterflies remains a must-read thanks to its poignant political commentary and unfiltered look at life in the Dominican Republic under General Rafael Leónidas Trujillo’s dictatorship. The novel follows four sisters, delving into their lives as daughters, lovers, and rebels to reveal the “the human costs of political oppression.” Fans of Alvarez also rave about her highly anticipated novel Afterlife.
4. The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina by Zoraida Córdova
Brooklyn Brujas series author Zoraida Córdova’s most recent novel, The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina, follows the story of a family hunting for the truth behind their secret inheritance before it destroys them. According to The New York Times Book Review, the contemporary fantasy is great for fans of Alice Hoffman, Isabel Allende, and Sarah Addison Allen.
5. The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes
Set to release in 2022, Sonora Reyes’s debut novel The Lesbiana’s Guide to Catholic School is already generating tons of hype—it even has a 5-star rating on Goodreads thanks to ARC readers. The YA contemporary novel follows a teen who transfers schools after being outed as queer by her former best friend. At her new school, Yamilet Flores fakes being straight and navigates the intricacies of pretending to be someone you’re not, all while trying to uphold unrealistic parental expectations as a perfect student and daughter. You can pre-order now.
6. In the Country We Love by Diane Guerrero
In the Country We Love is an unfiltered and heartbreaking memoir that delves into the life of Orange Is the New Black star Diane Guerrero. While the memoir is ultimately a story of triumph and resilience, it also focuses on the hard truths of what it’s like for a child of undocumented immigrants living in the United States and the flaws of the U.S. immigration system. The memoir is written with Michelle Burford.
7. You Had Me at Hola by Alexis Daria
Telenovela and rom-com fans alike will fall in love with Alexis Daria’s novel You Had Me at Hola. A New York Times Editor’s Choice Pink and an O Magazine Best Romance Pick, it’s a smart and sexy read that puts Latinx joy (and love!) at the forefront. It’s a must-read for all Jane the Virgin fans.
8. Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
Cemetery Boys is best selling author Aiden Thomas’s first novel. The paranormal young adult novel follows the story of Yadriel, a trans brujx who wants to prove himself to his family. After summoning a ghost, he’s forced to help bring the spirit to rest in a quick-paced adventure.
9. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
Touted as one of the most important novels of the twentieth century, The House of the Spirits was an instant best-seller when it was published in 1982. Isabel Allende’s debut novel, the cross-generational narrative weaves an intricate political commentary with love and destiny to create an unforgettable story.
10. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Calling all gothic horror fans: Silvia Moreno-Garcia needs to be included in your next book haul. The best-seller and soon-to-be Hulu series follows the story of Mexican socialite Noemí Taboada as she’s sent to the countryside to investigate her cousin’s outlandish, but perhaps truthful, claims about her new husband.
11. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez
A coming-of-age story that delves into death, grief, and what it means to be the “perfect” Mexican daughter, Erika L. Sánchez’s best-selling novel takes on stereotypes, unrealistic pressures, and an emphasis, above all, on speaking the truth in this gripping tale.
12. Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster
TikTok famous author Alex Aster’s #BookTok favorite, Curse of the Night Witch, is the first in a middle grade duology that’s filled with edge-of-your-seat stakes and intricately woven myths based on Colombian mythology.
13. Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez
A Reese Witherspoon book club pick, this contemporary YA novel follows a young Argentine soccer star as she strives to make her athletic dreams come true. The novel is filled with romance, passion, and a tough reminder that you live life for yourself, no one else—not even your parents.
14. Dealing in Dreams by Lilliam Rivera
A YA dystopian novel described by Amazon as “The Outsiders meets Mad Max,” Lilliam Rivera’s action-packed novel follows Nalah and her all-girl crew as she navigates the meaning of sisterhood, chosen family, and survival.
15. Halsey Street by Naima Coster
In her debut novel, Naima Coster takes on massive topics like gentrification and immigration as she delves into the life of her main character—an Afro-Latina returning home to her nearly unrecognizable Brooklyn neighborhood after a few years away. It’s a captivating adult novel with family, and what it means to be human, at the core of it all.
Marilyn La Jeunesse is a writer in New York City. Follow her on Instagram @mtlajeunesse.