Must-read books recommended by the employees of Latinos at Amazon
September 15 marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, set aside to honor Hispanic and Latino communities—those who trace their roots to Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
Honoring Hispanic Heritage Month allows the United States to show recognition and support for the work Latinos have done, and continue to do, to help this country be the best version of itself. That work includes telling their stories and sharing their experiences.
Books are at the heart of that, so we turned to fellow employees who are members of an affinity group here at Amazon, called Latinos at Amazon, who kindly recommended a list of books written by Latino/Hispanic authors that they have read and loved. Read on for books that bring joy, foster pride in identity, and even (as one reviewer put it) may help you feel seen.
This is a bilingual children's book (also for adults) that invites us to a deep, entertaining, and magical adventure to the core of our humanity and nature. It is an opportunity for us to remember the wisdom that lives in us. I read this book to my grandkids and they loved it, and not only because they learned how to say many words in Spanish. It was, and still is, a moving experience seeing them recognizing the four elements (Wind, Fire, Water, Earth) in them on a day-to-day basis while also recognizing that they are the fifth element: Magic. I highly recommend this book for Latinos living in the US and everywhere in Latin-America. —Rubi Romero, Amazon Rep | Seattle, WA
This book resonated with me because I myself have at times felt disconnected from those around me, and the expectations they had because of where I was from or what I looked like. This book is about a young Dominican/American teenager who tries to navigate the complicated years of young adulthood while trying to find himself within his family circle, neighborhood, machismo and the fukú (a family curse that gets passed by generations). The book is a good combination of harsh realities, hope, love, and humor. —Angie Ramirez, Amazon Vendor Manager | Las Vegas, Nevada
I've never felt as seen by a book as I did while reading For Brown Girls with Sharp Edges and Tender Hearts: A Love Letter to Women of Color. Through anecdotes about her life, Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodríguez outlines the systemic and culturally rooted challenges women of color face, validates our experiences, and empowers us to step into our power. As a Central American woman, reading this book by Mojica Rodríguez, a Nicaraguan woman, was a special experience. The Latinx book club I'm a part of spent a month on this book and we all laughed, cried, and resonated with its contents. Definitely a must-read for Latinas and allies. — Karla Guadron Palma, Amazon Software Development Engineer | Seattle, Washington
This is the translated version of the Chilean novel of the same name. This is the story about of group of friends that grew up in Chile during the ‘80s under Augusto Pinochet´s dictatorship, and later, in their adulthood, they understand many events of their childhood. This novel reflects the character of my country well, how it evolved from that dark period, how this moment in history affected the Chilean people, and the consequences all of us needed to cope with. It also shows a moment in Latin American history, when many governments and institutions were under dictators. It’s amazingly written, and I recommend it. —Maria José Soto Monteverde, Amazon Content PM, Alexa International | Seattle, Washington
Jorge Amado masterfully tells a fictional story about a group of marginalized teenagers living in the slums of Bahia, Brazil. This is an intriguing narrative full of thrilling escapades, implicit social injustice, and the implications of growing up in a stigmatized environment. But I particularly love how this book describes the rich culture of Bahia, inviting the readers to be fully immersed in a world that is often unknown to them. Captains of the Sand (or "Capitães da Areia", in Portuguese) is a story of love, dreams, and hopes—but more importantly, it is a crucial tool to understand how growing up in a harsh reality limits the future potential of individuals and leads them towards a path of no return. —Carlos Marciano, Amazon Software Development Engineer | Toronto, Canada
This beautifully details the "in between" or otherness that first generation children can feel about their roots, their parents, and their American identity. I particularly love that this is a Young Adult novel and it captures the struggles of coming of age. There is a sharp focus on child/parent relationships, personal trauma, and familial duty. I am not first-generation, but as a Mexican-American Tejana, I identified with Julia's struggle of wanting to be her own person outside the family unit, and how at odds that was (and still is) with my parents' perception of duty to family first. —Erika Cox, Amazon Senior Business Development Manager | San Antonio, Texas
These short stories capture the contemporary struggles, the deep history, the mystery of place, and the bonds of family and community of northern New Mexico like nothing else I've read. It's sometimes difficult to explain the paradoxes and complexities of being New Mexican on our own terms, without it being reduced to folklore or described in reference to something else. But these stories manage it, while also doing justice to the complexities of just living a human life. The stories also happen to be fantastically well written, earning plenty of literary accolades. — Chloe Lopez, Amazon Systems Development Engineer | Boston, Massachusetts
This is a beautiful collection of stories set in Colorado and the American West that explores what it means to be a Latina with Indigenous roots. Fajardo-Anstine does an amazing job bringing her character to life in a way that pays homage to tradition, family bonds, and the meaning of home—all while exploring topics like gentrification, societal norms, and colonization. I was lucky enough to be traveling through Denver and southeast Colorado while I read this book and was so lucky to have Sabrina & Corina along as my guide; I saw the city and the state in the eyes of mi gente and didn't want to let these strong and scarred characters go. —Anna Hernandez, Amazon UX Researcher | Seattle, Washington