Greetings & Salutations Dear Readers!
Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the rich culture of the Latin & Hispanic community. It’s also a great opportunity to learn more about the history of Latin & Hispanic people in the United States. You can start with these nonfiction books about Latin & Hispanic heritage, which feature real stories and firsthand accounts.
These books are a great way to learn more about the diversity of the Latin & Hispanic culture. I hope this list will inspire you to explore the many facets of Latino & Hispanic heritage and culture!
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
My Beloved World is a memoir by Sonia Sotomayor. Born in the US to Puerto Rican parents, she wrote this book about her life and it definitely made me want to read more of her work. Her parents were extremely important parts of her childhood, as were her grandparents and aunts. She also mentions how much she loved school.
Sonia Sotomayor went on to become the first Latina appointed to serve on the Supreme Court in 2009 (by Barack Obama). She was celebrated for so many reasons because she broke down barriers in terms of race and gender but also because she did extraordinary things for those who are underrepresented in government institutions like Congress or federal courts.
Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina by Raquel Cepeda
In Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina, Raquel Cepeda writes about her life growing up as an immigrant in the US. She was born in New York City to Dominican immigrants. Her mother came over to the United States when she was only two years old and her father at seven, after arriving from their home country of the Dominican Republic.
Raquel grew up spending summers with relatives in Boston where she learned English. In school, she spoke Spanish but it wasn’t until she attended college at Columbia University that she became interested in learning more about her heritage. After graduation, Raquel worked as a journalist before becoming an editor at The Root magazine where she now works as their executive editor.
My Invented Country: A Memoir – Isabel Allende (Lima, Peru)
Isabel Allende is a well-known author, who was born in Lima, Peru. She is of Chilean descent and has written many books, including the internationally bestselling The House of the Spirits (1998) and Island Beneath the Sea (2008). Her latest book, My Invented Country: A Memoir (2016), tells her life story as she grew up in Chile during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.The book is a beautiful story about her life, family and the country that she left behind. Isabel Allende wrote this memoir with the hope of sharing her experiences with those who have not lived through similar circumstances. She writes about the challenges of growing up in a dictatorship, political exile and learning to be an author in order to tell stories about Chile’s history.
Children of the Land: A Memoir by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
The book is an intimate look at growing up in Zacatecas, Mexico, and the author’s journey to America. The book is both a memoir and a reflection on his life as an immigrant, artist and activist. The author offers insight into the struggles of being Mexican in America, while also providing an intimate look at growing up in Zacatecas, Mexico and coming to terms with his identity.
Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda
If you’re looking for a book that can be read in one sitting, look no further. Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You is a collection of short poems written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (of Hamilton fame) as he was going through an emotional time in his life. Each poem is meant to be read out loud and will inspire you to think about the important things in your own life: family, friends and love.
The author writes about everything from morning routines to reflections on his Puerto Rican family history. The poems are both thoughtful and lighthearted—perfect for reading aloud with loved ones or even just by yourself!
In the Shadow of the Mountain: A Memoir of Courage by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado
Endless ice. Thin air. The threat of dropping into nothingness thousands of feet below. This is the climb Silvia Vasquez-Lavado braves in her page-turning, pulse-raising memoir following her journey to Mount Everest.
At age 40, she became the first Latina woman to summit the world’s tallest mountain. But this wasn’t her first challenge. In fact, it was just another step in a lifetime spent climbing toward success.
With each step up the mountain, she recounts her life story as if reliving it herself — from growing up as an undocumented immigrant in a broken family to becoming a successful entrepreneur and then an accomplished mountaineer. In this book we see how one woman’s passion for adventure and drive for self-betterment can take her places she never imagined possible — even when society tells her otherwise.
A Place at the Nayarit: How a Mexican Restaurant Nourished a Community by Natalia Molina
Doña Natalia Barraza opened the Nayarit, a Mexican restaurant in Echo Park, Los Angeles, in 1951. For decades, she maintained an open-door policy that allowed her employees and customers to preserve ties to their old homes while providing one another safety and support. In A Place at the Nayarit, historian Natalia Molina traces the life’s work of her grandmother, remembered by all who knew her as Doña Natalia—a generous woman who immigrated alone from Mexico to L.A., adopted two children, and ran a successful business. This book offers a portrait not only of a remarkable woman but also of an important period in L.A.’s Latino history.
Upon a Quinceanera: Coming of Age in the USA by Julia Alvarez
Quinceañera is a celebration of Latina womanhood that’s as much about the future as it is about the past. The quinceañera is a rite of passage for Latinas everywhere and author Julia Alvarez explores the history and cultural significance of the “quince” in the United States, as well as the consequences of treating teens like princesses. Through her observations of a quince in Queens, interviews with other quince girls, and the memories of her own experience as a young immigrant, Alvarez presents a thoughtful and entertaining portrait of a rapidly growing multicultural phenomenon, and passionately emphasizes the importance of celebrating Latina womanhood.
Orange County: A Personal History by Gustavo Arellano
In this collection of personal essays, author Gustavo Arellano explores the history of his beloved home county Orange County, California. As a native-born son who grew up in Anaheim and now lives in Los Angeles, Arellano recounts stories about growing up Latina/o in OC as well as looking at how it has changed over time. Whether you’re looking for a history lesson or just want to read some fun stories about your favorite people and places, this book is sure to please!
Finding Latinx: In Search of the Voices Redefining Latino Identity by Paola Ramos
The book is part memoir and part exploration of what it means to be Mexican and Cuban. It’s an inspiring read for anyone curious about their cultural roots or who wants a better understanding of the Latinx experience in America today. In the book, Paola Ramos searches for her own identity as a Mexican-Cuban American and explores what it means to be Latinx. She looks at how Latinos are portrayed in media, politics and culture. Ramos also interviews other writers and artists about their experiences growing up in America as well as their thoughts on the future of the Latinx community.
Uncolonized Latinas by Valeria Aloe
In Uncolonized Latinas: Transforming our Mindsets and Rising Together, author Valeria Aloe takes us on an empowering journey to uncolonize our mindsets and rise together as one people.
In this book, Aloe introduces us to a diverse group of women who “have pulled themselves up by their bootstraps and made their own way in life.” Some are immigrants while others are daughters of immigrants. All have overcome obstacles such as discrimination, poverty and other disadvantages through self-reflection and determination to become successful entrepreneurs, activists or simply better people overall.
Eat Less Water by Florencia Ramirez
In Eat Less Water, author Florencia Ramirez traces her journey across the country to understand how food is produced and how we can make a significant difference in how much water we use. Tracing Ramirez’s tour of American water sustainable farms–from rice paddies in Cajun Louisiana to a Hawaiian coffee farm to a Boston chocolate factory and beyond–Eat Less Water tells the story of water served on our plates: an eye-opening account of the under-appreciated environmental threat of water scarcity, a useful cookbook with water-sustainable recipes accompanying each chapter, and a fascinating personal narrative that will teach the reader how they, too, can eat less water.
For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey by Richard Blanco
If you’re not familiar with Richard Blanco, he is an American poet who was the inaugural poet for President Obama’s second inauguration. He was also the first Latino to hold this position, and he’s currently only one of two poets to do so. Blanco is also the first openly gay man to hold this position.
Blanco was born in Cuba and immigrated to the United States when he was five years old. He grew up in Miami where he learned English as a second language and began writing poetry while still in high school.
His book For All of Us, One Today: An Inaugural Poet’s Journey documents his journey from emigrating to America at age five all the way up until his inauguration as president Obama’s inaugural poet—a journey that involved many miles traveled along life’s path and had plenty twists and turns along the way.
I hope you’ve found something new to read in this list of nonfiction books by Latin & Hispanic authors. Happy reading!
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