For Banned Books Week, One World authors discussed what they wished they had learned in school. As in what they felt was missing from their yearslong education presumably from kindergarten to college. The conversation centered on the absence of racial and ethnic groups that make up the fabric of the United States and the context of discrimination against these groups. English and history classes became a target where authors said they didn’t recall reading works by entire groups of people, their voices missing from our curriculums.
We’re in the midst of National Hispanic American Heritage Month. From Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, we as a country are celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of Americans whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The middle of September marks the independence days for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico, and Chile.
I don’t read enough books by Latina authors. I started she lit to document my adventures of becoming a published author like blogging about the literary industry conferences and networking events I attended in Los Angeles. One factor I realized as a future author is the necessity to read current works. That’s when I noticed the diversity and inclusion conversation in book publishing. And that’s when I realized I read mostly books by men because that was what was marketed to me the most, recommended to me the most. When I started adding more books by women to my #ToBeRead list, I added books by Black women because as a Black woman who had attended predominantly White schools, I rarely had the opportunity to invest the time into reading books by women whose experiences I can identify with.
The disappointing realization that I need to read more books by Latinas occurred to me months ago while examining my book collection. Julia Alvarez’s In the Time of Butterflies and Yo! stared at me from my bookshelf, both fixtures that have been there for years, but the time to read them always slips away. I reread The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros a few years ago since we share Chicago roots, and I had to experience her part of Chicago again. The thick hardcover of Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés sits unread though I bought it last year to replace the paperback Jada Pinkett Smith gifted my class at Spelman College that later made its way to the jungles of Africa with my sister. It didn’t return intact.
As a challenge, I read three books in a row:
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Dominicana by Angie Cruz
Other content related to Latina authors you can find on she lit include:
I look forward to blogging about more works by Latina authors, and diversifying that list even more since many of the ones I have read recently are of Dominican descent. Like many readers open to broadening their perspectives, there is always room for improvement. Leave a comment below on the books you recommend by Latina authors 👇🏾