Reading takes you places you never thought you could go—it's why most of us fall in love with books. Sometimes books lead us to a small village in Mexico or to New York City in 1965, or, perhaps, to the beaches of Miami. (Who doesn't want a free trip to Miami?) Often, the stories are so enthralling the bookmark that rests on our side table rarely ever gets used. If you're looking for those kinds of books—ones you can't put down—you can find them on this list, courtesy of some seriously talented Latinx authors.
It's no secret the world of publishing can look a certain way, so here at Marie Claire, we want to shine a light on the best books by a multitude of authors from different backgrounds. Sure, we're already doing that through our monthly online book club, #ReadWithMC (opens in new tab), but why not go one step further? (Our extensive lists on books by Black (opens in new tab) and LGBTQ+ (opens in new tab) authors are also filled with page-turners.)
Ahead, dive into some of the best books―both fiction (opens in new tab) and nonfiction―by Latinx authors. Whether it's a story of first love, a visit to a horror house gone wrong, a gripping history of rebellion and espionage, or a collection of short stories, there's a narrative for everyone on this list. Your reading palette deserves a little change, and there's no better place to start than here.
'When I Was Puerto Rican' by Esmeralda Santiago
Esmeralda Santiago's When I Was Puerto Rican is a groundbreaking memoir about transitioning from life in rural Puerto Rico to life in New York City. Not only is it an intimate depiction of the immigrant experience, but it's also an honest portrait of daily life and everyday politics during the late twentieth century.
'Violeta' by Isabel Allende
Internationally acclaimed author Isabel Allende came out with Violeta in 2022, making it one of the year's most anticipated books. Violeta is a coming-of-age story that takes place in the 1920s, with protagonist Violeta experiencing the full force of the decade's tumult, from the Spanish Flu to the Great Depression.
'Healing Memories' by Elizabeth Garcia
This interdisciplinary exploration of Puerto Rican literature is perfect for those who adore the Latin American canon and for those in search of what to read next. In this intersectional book, Garcia explores how female Puerto Rican authors use writing to heal their trauma―both personal and collective.
'The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao' by Junot Diaz
While Junot Diaz is controversial at best, his books remain meaningful for their explorations of race, gender, toxic masculinity, and intergenerational trauma and tension. His unique take on the second-generation Dominican experience in The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao is augmented by historically accurate footnotes that contextualize the experiences of his characters, making this a must-read for fiction lovers and history buffs alike.
'How The Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents' by Julia Alvarez
Julia Alvarez's How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents is an essential modern classic about the Latin American experience in the United States. In this novel, the four Garcia sisters leave their upper-class lives in the Dominican Republic for New York City in 1960, where they come of age and try to navigate the chasm between their old life and their new one.
'Tell Me How It Ends' by Valeria Luiselli
This book is essential (and quick) reading for anyone interested in learning more about the refugee crisis at the United States' southern border. Luiselli, who translates for refugees applying for asylum in the U.S., thoroughly explains the crisis in concise language that cuts straight to the heart of the issue with facts, statistics, and first-hand stories.
'The Book of Unknown Americans' by Cristina Henriquez
The Book of Unknown Americans is a moving, at-times harrowing exploration of the racism and xenophobia that a family experiences after moving from Mexico to the United States. An eye-opening account of modern-day anti-immigrant sentiment, you'll blow through this accessibly written novel in record time.
'Boricuas: Influential Puerto Rican Writings - An Anthology' by Roberto Santiago
This anthology is a treasure for any fan of Caribbean literature. It includes poetry, nonfiction, political essays, memoir excerpts, and short fiction from a myriad of authors past and present. The collection, which spans centuries of Puerto Rican history, explores everything from gender to race to sexuality, and includes authors both in Puerto Rico itself and those writing about their experiences as Puerto Ricans living on the mainland United States.
'Dreaming in Cuban' by Cristina Garcia
Fans of Gabriel García Márquez and the Latin American genre of magical realism will love this novel, which delves into the lived experiences of a family of Cuban women before, during, and after the Cuban Revolution. It's a beautiful, sumptuous novel that speaks to the emotional experience of this country's complex history.
'War Against All Puerto Ricans: Revolution and Terror in America's Colony' by Nelson A. Denis
War Against All Puerto Ricans is an honest, often shocking history of how the American government brutally shut down the Puerto Rican independence movement and curbed free speech among the population during the twentieth century. Much like Michelle Alexander's seminal The New Jim Crow, it's a critical look at how the United States has treated its minority populations, and it contextualizes the dire economic and political situation in Puerto Rico today.
'Love in the Time of Cholera' by Gabriel García Márquez
Young love is a beautiful thing, and Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza are the epitome of it. All good things must come to an end, though, and when Fermina chooses to marry a wealthy doctor, Florentino is left crushed. Still, his love for her never falters, and when word of her rich husband's passing reaches his ears, he sets off to declare his love for Fermina once and for all.
'Afterlife' by Julia Alvarez
In her first adult novel in almost 15 years, Alvarez tells the story of immigration writer Antonia Vega and the series of events that happen after she retires from teaching college-level English. It asks questions concerning family, parenthood, losing love ones, and believing in yourself. It's utterly poetic.
'You Had Me at Hola' by Alexis Daria
Two telenovela stars sign on to be love interests in the newest romantic comedy from one of the world's biggest streaming services. Wanting to make sure the movie's a hit, they agree to rehearse off-set to make sure their on-screen chemistry is steamy. Things get interesting between the two, and quick, if you know what I mean. *wink wink*
'Sabrina & Corina: Stories' by Kali Fajardo-Anstine
This collection of 11 short stories centers on the lives of different Latina women of Indigenous ancestry who live in Denver, Colorado. Each narrative focuses on different issues, from abandonment to death to love, family, and more. One story in, and you'll see why it was nominated for 2019's National Book Award in the fiction category.
'The Worst Best Man' by Mia Sosa
Carolina Santos is a wedding planner who was left at the altar. Ironic, yes, but she quickly puts the past behind her...until she gets the opportunity to expand her business and is forced to face that past again. She's tasked with working with her ex-fiancé's brother, Max. They both strive to have a professional relationship, but as the weeks go on, other feelings start to bubble to the surface.
'Clap When You Land' by Elizabeth Acevedo
Two sisters who never knew each other existed discover the truth about each other when their father dies in a plane crash. As they come to terms with their new reality, they establish a bond that will change their lives forever.
Puerto Rican girls are taught to want one thing growing up: true love. In this collection of short fictional stories, Rodriguez illustrates that this kind of love isn't always achieved, especially as these girls are raised by women who have witnessed the betrayal, grief, and violence that can come with relationships.
'Dominicana' by Angie Cruz
When Juan Ruiz proposes to 15-year-old Ana Cancion, she says yes. Sure, he's twice her age, but his proposal promises a new life in New York City. On New Year's Day 1965, they set out for their new lives and leave behind an old one. When there, Ana finds herself homesick, she struggles between following her heart or staying true to her family.
'Hurricane Season' by Fernanda Melchor
A woman known in the Mexican village of La Matosa as "The Witch" is found floating in a body of water. Throughout this book's chapters, eight characters are introduced and tell their stories, filling in the blanks as to why the town's most infamous woman is dead. It's gritty and filled with violence, but the story will stick with you long after its final page.
'Here the Whole Time' by Vitor Martins
Felipe's looking forward to school break and 15 days of uninterrupted alone time—until his mother informs him that Caio, the kid from apartment 57, will be spending the break with them while his parents are on vacation. The only problem? He has possibly the world's biggest crush on Caio.
'Cantoras' by Carolina De Robertis
Set in Uruguay in 1977, five women discover an uninhabited cape, Cabo Polonio, and claim it as their secret sanctuary to escape their current world—one where they can be punished for being gay. Over the next 35 years, the women move between their two worlds as they experience all things that make life so great: love, family, community, and more.
'I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter' by Erika L. Sánchez
Olga was always the perfect daughter, not Julia, but when a tragic accident takes her beloved sister's life, Julia is left to pick up the pieces. As she sorts through her older sister's past and tries to move forward, Julia soon realizes her sister wasn't as perfect as she thought and that there was more to her sister than just the image their mother made for her.
'Mexican Gothic' by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
When Noemí's father receives a suspicious letter from her recently married cousin, Catalina, he sends her out to visit her cousin. When she arrives at the house in the Mexican countryside, something feels off, and it's not just the family that lives there.
'Fiebre Tropical' by Juliana Delgado Lopera
Fifteen-year-old Francisca moves from Bogotá, Colombia, with her sister and mother to live with their grandmother in Miami. Her family soon seeks refuge in a Colombian immigrant fundamentalist church, but Francisca finds herself sticking out like a sore thumb. She forms an unlikely friendship with the pastor's daughter, but those friendly feelings quickly turn into something more.
'The House of the Spirits' by Isabel Allende
Find yourself falling into an epic tale of three generations of Chilean women: Clara, Blanca, and Alba Del Valle Trueba. One experiences forbidden love, another fights for a revolution, and one faces supernatural wonders. It's the ultimate family saga.
Bianca Rodriguez is the Fashion & Luxury Commerce Manager at Hearst Magazines, covering fashion, beauty, and more for Cosmopolitan, Elle, Esquire, Harper’s BAZAAR, and Town & Country. She likes lounging about with a good book and thinks a closet without platform sneakers is a travesty.
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