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September: Hispanic Heritage Month Booklist

Gabbi Cisneros

September 08, 2023


Consider new books and new perspectives in our 2023 Hispanic Heritage Month booklist.

Reading can be an act of resistance as much as an act of love. 

We’re exploring both of those paths in this month’s booklists. First, reading as an act of love: In honor of Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15), we’re highlighting books that reflect Hispanic cultures and experiences. Book recommendations from our staff range from a coming-of-age fiction of a Mexican-American girl growing up in Chicago to a work based in Rome from an acclaimed Argentinian writer and translator. 

We’ve also included a list of new releases in 2023, to help you keep up with current authors and the distinct perspectives being published every week in the United States. As of 2021, Hispanics make up 19% of the U.S. population, and within that group, 32% of Latinos (almost 28 million) identified with more than one race. That is why it’s important to continue reading new books: Theirs are perspectives that may not have even existed just a few years ago. 

Secondly, reading as resistance is an essential exercise in democracy. This is thematically relevant for Banned Books Week (October 1-7), but it’s important year-round as, with no official court ruling on the legality of it under the First Amendment, books continue to be challenged or banned by schools, bookstores, libraries, and more. In fact, the American Library Association documented 1,477 books bans between July and December 2022, up 28% from the previous six months. 

Unfortunately, there is a lot of overlap when it comes to banned books and diverse perspectives. Read more about that and see the separate Banned Books Week Booklist here. 


Our Hispanic Heritage Month booklist for 2023 begins below! As always, if you have any other new books you’d like to recommend to add to the lists, email us. 


Staff Picks

BrighterThanTheSun.jpgBrighter than the Sun by Daniel Aleman,  Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Recommended by Roy Normington 

"This book is about a young girl, Sol, attending a San Diego high school while living in Tijuana, MX. Sol has dual citizenship, so she is the only one in her family able to get a job part-time in the US to help her family's restaurant out after her mother's passing away. Quite a deeply important sophomoric novel from Daniel Aleman (Indivisible). Serious issues, complex relationships, and a little bit of humor. From trying to fit in and 'be normal' to immigration laws to how we treat others makes this novel a must read. Relevant, stirring and relatable."


Brown.jpgBrown: The Last Discovery of America by Richard Rodriguez, Penguin Books
Recommended by Dylan Schleicher

I believe that America’s greatest hope exists in its diversity and complexity. One of the books I read as a young man that helped form that belief was Richard Rodriguez’s Brown. Rodriguez, a self-described “queer Catholic Indian Spaniard at home in a temperate Chinese city in a fading blond state in a post-Protestant nation” wrote about America’s conceptions of race and identity and history in a way that changed the geographical lens I see America through, beyond the north and south divide of the country’s founding and Civil War, or the east to west expansion of European immigrants. The jacket copy states that “In this dazzling memoir, Richard Rodriguez reflects on the color brown and the meaning of Hispanics to the life of America today. Rodriguez argues that America has been brown since its inception-since the moment the African and the European met within the Indian eye. But more than simply a book about race, Brown is about America in the broadest sense—a look at what our country is, full of surprising observations by a writer who is a marvelous stylist as well as a trenchant observer and thinker.” It is also deeply personal, moving, and erudite, documenting the diversity of influences on his own person, perception, and education. A great book.


Fulgentius.jpgFulgentius by César Aira,  New Directions
Recommended by Michael Jantz 

"The book is a bit uncharacteristic for Aira, in that 1) it is longer than 100 pages, and 2) the subject of the book is a general in the Imperial Roman army, but it is every bit a rumination on the intersection of art and life as any of his other works. The titular general is on a years-long campaign and in each city his army stages a production of Fulgentius' lone dramatic work, which he wrote when he was a teenager. Aira almost only mentions the army's conquests as asides to the main concerns of the book, which are primarily happening inside Fulgentius' mind. Terrific book!"



IAmNotYourPerfectMexicanDaughter.jpgI Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez, Knopf Books for Young Readers 
Recommended by Gabriella Cisneros 

“The narrator is teenage Julia Reyes, whose older sister Olga—the family’s presumed golden child—has recently died, leaving Julia with a mess of emotions and, eventually, a mystery to unravel. She’s very snarky, so the book is more funny than it is somber, while still delicately handling a large swath of realistic and potentially taboo themes (cw: attempted suicide, depression, racism, abortion). Julia and her parents’ conflicting ideas of purpose, success, and morality are the throughline to this very eventful book, and rightfully so. This book reflects so truthfully the headstrong yet insecure mind of a teenager, and when it ended, I left with much more empathy for my young self and all other young people.” 

(Related: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter was challenged by the Leander Independent School District in Texas in 2021) 


PromisesOfGold.jpgPromises of Gold by Jose Olivarez, Henry Holt and Co
Recommended by Jasmine Gonzalez 

After my now-fiancé proposed to me last fall, I knew exactly how I wanted to announce our engagement: by sharing the poem “Let’s Get Married” by José Olivarez, which at that point had only been published on the poet’s Instagram and now makes up a part of Promises of Gold. Olivarez’s poems have this effect in which I find myself recalling them in both the everyday and extraordinary moments of my life, and I cherish this collection dearly. 



ChangeThis | “When Bringing Your Full Self To Work Is a High-Wire Act” by Jenny Vazquez-Newsum 
Adapted from Untapped Leadership: Harnessing the Power of Underrepresented Leaders  

To survive and thrive in the structures and hierarchies that have been established through a white-dominant lens, leaders of color must stretch in ways that are at times not natural. 


 New Releases

Chicano-Chicana Americana: Pop Culture Pluralism by Anthony Macías

The Power of Latino Leadership, Second Edition, Revised and Updated: Culture, Inclusion, and Contribution by Juana Bordas

About Gabbi Cisneros

Gabriella Cisneros is a moderately bilingual artist whose passion for storytelling extends from reading to filmmaking, video editing, writing, photography, and social media. Working at Porchlight is kind of a dream job for someone who has a 55 page, indexed document of interesting words she’s found in books. Gabbi regularly makes time for taking photos, traveling, attending concerts, trying new restaurants, blogging, fitness, and—of course—reading.

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