Latinx Heritage Month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, is a time to honor the cultural contributions and achievements of Latinx and Hispanic Americans. For those outside of this community, the month is a chance to listen to Latinx voices firsthand and absorb the information their narratives provide. One way you can do this is to read books by Latinx authors. Kalima DeSuze, the founder of intersectional feminist bookstore Cafe Con Libros (located in New York City), spoke with TZR on her top picks to read. You’ll find options ranging from an expansive anthology to a relatable young adult read.
The books, ahead, are testaments to the diverse lives of the Latinx and Hispanic community. But, as DeSuze notes, it’s crucial your support and interest for the cultures do not expire once the celebratory month concludes. “What I love most about Latinx Heritage Month is the collective pivot toward celebrating us Latinx folks. Everyone is doing it together, which is amazing, but I want people to remember that that support, recognition, and curiosity should happen year round,” she says.
The bookstore founder continues: “Whether that’s through offering monetary support, sharing resources, uplifting Latinx resistors, or making connections for Latinx-owned businesses, I want people to commit to supporting us year round. And to remember the value of intentionally spending their money in places that have been historically and systemically oppressed and marginalized.”
Ahead, find the books DeSuze has personally shared with TZR that she considers must-reads, not only for Latinx Heritage Month, but also year round, too. To browse Cafe Con Libros’ own diverse book selections, pop in for a visit at the Brooklyn store location or click over to cafeconlibrosbk.com.
Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed: 15 Voices from the Latinx Diaspora edited by Saraciea J. Fennell
Edited by The Bronx Is Reading founder Saraciea J. Fennell, Wild Tongues Can't Be Tamed is a curation of essays and poems. According to DeSuze, the writing features “stories all from Latinx folks, but mostly Latinx women.” The storytellers cover everything from cultural myths and debunked stereotypes about their communities to anti-Blackness, struggles with identity, and touching childhood memories.
For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts: A Love Letter to Women of Color by Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez
“I chose to have a feminist bookstore because that’s all I read. This is a book specifically for all women of color,” says DeSuze. “[Writer Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez] is the founder of Latina Rebels (a social media-based activism group) and is a Latinx activist.”
In For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts, Rodríguez discusses the challenges women of color face, ranging from classism to living within a society that unjustly holds the white experience in superiority. Her book serves as a guide for women of color in decolonizing their ideologies and cultivating a shared and liberated community.
How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe by Raquel Vasquez Gilliland
How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe is categorized as a young adult novel but tackles surprisingly profound themes that DeSuze says all ages will find poignant. Protagonist Moon Funetez tries to find her place in the world and navigate the choppy waters of being a teenager while her twin sister skyrockets to social media stardom. After accepting a job on a tour bus, Moon connects with an unexpected cast of characters that help her better understand her identity and perception of self.
A Lot Like Adiós by Alexis Daria
The second book in Alexis Daria’s Prima of Power series, A Lot Like Adiós is a romance novel that follows Michelle and Gabe, two long-lost friends and crushes who come together 13 years after he disappeared without a trace.
“A Lot Like Adiós is a follow up to the first book in Daria’s series called You Had Me at Hola, which I read and loved,” says DeSuze. “And the second book is about one of the cousins, Michelle, who was introduced in the first book and was a part of the group. I’m fresh and new into the romance genre, and Daria’s series has been a sweet entry because it's culturally based. There are so many things about the series and Daria’s books that I can relate to and that resonate with me.”
Cazadora by Romina Garber
In Cazadora, author Romina Garber immerses readers in the complex world of Argentine folklore as the main character, Manu, and picks up where Garber concluded the first novel, Lobizona. The second book in the series follows Manu and her ragtag group of friends on their courageous quest into the mystical and cursed realm, Kerana, in the pursuit of finding the resistance group of witches known as the Coven. "I love [Cazadora] for its discussion on identity, belonging, otherness, and undocumented status," says DeSuze. She categorizes it as a must-read for Latinx Heritage Month for those who enjoy novels that interweave relevant modern-day themes with surrealism.