LATINO VOICES
11/19/2015 12:39 pm ET

23 Books By Latinos That Might Just Change Your Life

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Whether you're looking to find yourself in a book or lose yourself in a story, there's a colorful and magical literary world to explore through the lens of Latino authors. 

You can discover the magic in reality with Gabriel García Márquez, the wonders of love with Pablo Neruda and the power of identity with Sandra Cisneros -- to name a few. 

With that in mind, we asked The Huffington Post newsroom to share a book by a Latino author that shaped their life or simply became a favorite. So if you want to find inspiring words between the pages of your next literary obsession, you're in luck.

Here are 23 books by Latino authors that should be on your must-read list: 

  • 1 How the García Girls Lost Their Accents by Julia Alvarez
    "It's a book just as much about immigration and Latin culture as it is about family conflict and struggle. I found it relatab
    "It's a book just as much about immigration and Latin culture as it is about family conflict and struggle. I found it relatable to anyone, but also valuable because of the intimate glimpse it gives of the unique difficulties immigrants face with their identities." -- Carly Figueroa, HuffPost Producer

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  • 2 Drown by Junot Díaz
    "I feel like others might mention Diaz's better-known works, but I loved the impact of these short, powerful stories Diaz wro
    "I feel like others might mention Diaz's better-known works, but I loved the impact of these short, powerful stories Diaz wrote in 1996. These stories take place in the Dominican Republic all the way to New Jersey, and are filled with heart. 'Edison, New Jersey,' is one of my favorites. Fans of short story collections looking for other Latino writers should also try Night at the Fiestas by Kristin Valdez Quade and The Miniature Wife by Manuel Gonzalez." -- Jillian Capewell, Entertainment News Editor

    "I took it out from the library because one of the stories in its table of contents was called 'Edison, N.J.,' where I grew up. Sadly, it is only in the last sentence of that story that Edison is mentioned. Happily, that book introduced me to Junot Diaz." -- Krithika Varagur, What's Working Associate Editor

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  • 3 Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda
    "The romantic in me just melts every time I pick this collection up." -- <i>Bennymar Almonte, HuffPost Live Stage Manager</i>
    "The romantic in me just melts every time I pick this collection up." -- Bennymar Almonte, HuffPost Live Stage Manager

    "'Sonnet XVII': Reading Neruda reminds me of being in Ecuador surrounded by family. This sonnet is specifically my favorite because it relates to how I deal with love. I have a few lines from it tattooed on me." -- Gabriela Landazuri-Saltos, HuffPost Photo Editor

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  • 4 The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
    "Not only was it the first time I realized I was not alone in feeling like a misfit with my Mexican-American duality, but tha
    "Not only was it the first time I realized I was not alone in feeling like a misfit with my Mexican-American duality, but that it was OK, and that I could do great things not despite, but because of it." -- Flavia Casas, HuffPost Live Producer

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  • 5 One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
    <i>"One Hundred Years of Solitude</i> by Gabriel Garcia Marquez&nbsp;exploded my heart and mind as only this devilishly evoca
    "One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez exploded my heart and mind as only this devilishly evocative author could. In this book, I encountered magical realism for the first time, and it forever influenced my own creative style and my relationship to reality." -- Antonia Blumberg, Religion Associate Editor

    "I didn't realize writing could look like that even in translation. I didn't realize how much magic and reality blended naturally and it made me more aware of the 'magic' lurking in our own capabilities." -- Nadya Agrawal, Editorial Fellow 

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  • 6 Almost A Woman by Esmeralda Santiago
    "Santiago's coming of age memoir was the first book I ever read that was written in Spanglish. There was something about seei
    "Santiago's coming of age memoir was the first book I ever read that was written in Spanglish. There was something about seeing the words, the language I'd heard all my life in a book. There's nothing more powerful than seeing yourself reflected in something you love; for me, that was literature. It sounds silly, but reading her memoir helped me realize that our stories, Latinos' stories, are often left unsaid (and unread), but that did not mean they were not worth telling. Santiago's memoir is the reason I write. It's the reason I'm committed to telling our stories. -- Tanisha Ramirez, Latino Voices Editor

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  • 7 Isla Negra by Pablo Neruda
    "Few poems feel so near to both living and dying, as Neruda's do here. It's a book of celebration and longing, adventure and
    "Few poems feel so near to both living and dying, as Neruda's do here. It's a book of celebration and longing, adventure and entropy." -- Nicholas Miriello, Senior International Editor

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  • 8 Bird of Paradise: How I Became Latina by Raquel Cepeda
    "I'm not normally a big reader of the memoir genre, but this account of growing up with a difficult family and learning to de
    "I'm not normally a big reader of the memoir genre, but this account of growing up with a difficult family and learning to deal with it completely charmed me. It's at once intimate and expansive, taking you from an uptown Manhattan apartment on a journey round the world. Plus finding out about her family sends her on a quest to track her genetic origins, which is an amazing science mystery." -- Irina Ivanova, News Editor

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  • 9 City of the Beasts by Isabel Allende
    "I read this in middle school and thought it was so magical and full of wonder, and was a fresh take on the standard coming-o
    "I read this in middle school and thought it was so magical and full of wonder, and was a fresh take on the standard coming-of-age novel. It happened in so many different, exciting places and had a terrific sense of adventure. But was also poignant and sad. One of the main characters is described as 'seeing with her heart,' and that description has always stayed with me." -- Cameron Keady, Good News Associate Editor

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  • 10 When I Was Puerto Rican by Esmeralda Santiago
    <i>"Cuando era puertorrique&ntilde;a</i> is a beautiful and fun autobiography that details with honesty, the humble happy chi
    "Cuando era puertorriqueña is a beautiful and fun autobiography that details with honesty, the humble happy childhood of a girl in Puerto Rico and how when her family moved to U.S., she had to modify her identity. I read this book as a student many years ago, but I remember that once I started reading it, I didn’t let go of it until I finished. I think the book I had was actually bilingual, one page was in Spanish, and next to it you could read the same text in English." -- Marinés Arroyo, Voces Managing Editor

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  • 11 In The Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez
    <i>"</i><i>In</i><i> the Time of the Butterflies</i> by Julia Alvarez really affected me as a young teen when I read it. In t
    "In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez really affected me as a young teen when I read it. In the Mirabal sisters, who take turns telling the story, I saw parts of myself reflected. I watched them maneuver remarkably difficult situations with grace and a certain fierceness that was profound to me as I navigated my own identity as a young woman. -- Antonia Blumberg, Religion Associate Editor

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  • 12 Open Veins of Latin America by Eduardo Galeano
    "This book is one of the most politically, socially and culturally relevant books to have ever been written about Latin Ameri
    "This book is one of the most politically, socially and culturally relevant books to have ever been written about Latin America. You need to read it to truly understand the major consequences that colonialism, neo-colonialism and imperialism had (and still has) on Latin America and its people.

    What Galeano discusses and covers is as important and applicable today as it was in the '70s, and also speaks to the difficult history between the United States (with its backward foreign policy) and the rest of the Americas. I will say, however, that reading it will put you in a state of constant rage if you're Latin American." -- Carolina Moreno, Latino Voices Editor 

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  • 13 This Is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz
    "It contains the funniest passage I've ever read in a book. Period.&nbsp;<i>[Note: The following passage contains adult langu
    "It contains the funniest passage I've ever read in a book. Period. [Note: The following passage contains adult language.]

    'Darling what ever is the matter? She calls you:

    A cocksucker
    A punk motherfucker
    A fake-ass Dominican.

    She claims:
    You have a little penis
    No penis
    And worst of all that you like curried pussy.

    (Which really is unfair, you try to say, because Laxmi is from Guyana, but Alma isn't listening.)
    ...

    This is how you lose her.'”

    -- Carolina Gomes-Casseres, Director of Ad Product & Monetization 

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  • 14 Ficciones by Jorge Luis Borges
    "His concept of infinitude blows your mind. I still read 'La biblioteca de Babel' ('The Library of Babel') every couple of ye
    "His concept of infinitude blows your mind. I still read 'La biblioteca de Babel' ('The Library of Babel') every couple of years." -- Roque Planas, National Reporter  

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  • 15 The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
    "I read <i>The Alchemist</i> yearly to remind myself to have faith in what I know and believe (the power of love/my personal
    "I read The Alchemist yearly to remind myself to have faith in what I know and believe (the power of love/my personal ambitions and dreams), but also to surrender what I cannot control. I've never been one for organized religion, but there's something empowering in still having faith in the interconnectedness of people and situations in this world. This book perfectly encompasses these concepts in a way that's incredibly easy to digest and will, undoubtedly, leave you inspired when you're done. I highly recommend it!" -- Sahaj Kohli, Lifestyle Blog Editor

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  • 16 Sketches of the Valley and Other Works by Rolando Hinojosa-Smith
    "As a Texan, I find it peculiar that whimsical Westerns still seem to dominate the conversation about my home state's literat
    "As a Texan, I find it peculiar that whimsical Westerns still seem to dominate the conversation about my home state's literature. Don't get me wrong; I'll eat up anything Cormac McCarthy serves, but there are enough writers out there working to represent the state's demographics that it's time we give them more recognition. 

    Probably my favorite Chicano author is Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, who's prolifically been cataloging the happenings of a fictional border town in his Klail City series. His sense of place is impeccable, probably because he was raised in the Rio Grande Valley himself. He writes his stories in both Spanish and English, and was awarded a National Book Critics Circle’s Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award for his efforts in 2013. His first foray into writing about the fictional, transitional place that is the Texas-Mexico border was in Sketches of the Valley and Other Works. It's a must-read for anyone interested in the more human (as opposed to political) stories centering on immigration." -- Madeleine Crum, Books & Culture Writer

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  • 17 Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
    "While everyone gloats about<i> One Hundred Years of Solitude</i>, I have to argue this book is extremely underrated. A loves
    "While everyone gloats about One Hundred Years of Solitude, I have to argue this book is extremely underrated. A lovesickness that's quite literal and transcends your typical sappy love story." -- Rowaida Abdelaziz, World Social Media Editor

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  • 18 Days and Night of Love and War by Eduardo Galeano
    "Best book of poetry ever. The long and short form poems are beautifully written, and provide a sense of the landscapes and s
    "Best book of poetry ever. The long and short form poems are beautifully written, and provide a sense of the landscapes and struggles within South America. There are bizarre and macabre illustrations that he drew in the books as well." -- Riley Arthur, Photo Fellow

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  • 19 The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende
    "I was forced to read several authors that I didn't really care about when I was in high school: Hemingway, Flaubert and Ibse
    "I was forced to read several authors that I didn't really care about when I was in high school: Hemingway, Flaubert and Ibsen to name a few. But then there was The House Of the Spirits, by Chilean author Isabel Allende.  It's a book with a magical plot that involves witchcraft, communists, a military revolution and a passionate love story. It's loosely based on historical events that lead to the rise of the Chilean dictator Pinochet after the election of a democratically elected socialist leader. I read the book in English, but it was originally written in Spanish. Although I read it over six years ago it is still one my favorite novels and to date one of only three books that I actually cried after I finished reading. Suffice to say I was incredibly disappointed by the movie adaptation." -- Aaron Barksdale, Voices Fellow

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  • 20 The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
    "It made me cry in a public place. It was that f**king good. I didn't really read contemporary fiction before this book, and
    "It made me cry in a public place. It was that f**king good. I didn't really read contemporary fiction before this book, and it showed me that it can be just as poignant and beautiful as classic literature. Also I've never read something that so intricately interweaves slang and traditional prose in such a seamless way. The book is just absolutely wonderful and if you haven't read it, you should." -- Zoe Triska, Global Content Strategy Senior Editor

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  • 21 By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho
    "During a time when I was becoming less and less religious, it taught me that I can still have faith and spirituality without
    "During a time when I was becoming less and less religious, it taught me that I can still have faith and spirituality without devoting myself to a church." -- Flavia Casas, HuffPost Live Producer

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  • 22 "The Book of Genesis According to St. Miguelito" by Miguel Piñero
    "It's a poem, not a book, but 'The Book of Genesis According to St. Miguelito' by Miguel Pi&ntilde;ero. I read this poem duri
    Waring Abbott via Getty Images
    "It's a poem, not a book, but 'The Book of Genesis According to St. Miguelito' by Miguel Piñero. I read this poem during a class on Caribbean diaspora in college and couldn't get it out of my head. Years later, I emailed my professor to help me track it down." -- Erin Schumaker, Healthy Living Editor 

    Editor's Note: You can find the poem in the book, Outlaw: The Collected Works of Miguel Piñero.
  • 23 The Autumn of the Patriarch by Gabriel García Márquez
    "Gabriel Garcia Marquez's whole catalogue, particularly <i>Autumn of the Patriarch.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></i>His genre-shatt
    "Gabriel Garcia Marquez's whole catalogue, particularly Autumn of the Patriarch. His genre-shattering explorations of narrative storytelling are challenging, numbing, confusing, and chaotic but also masterful navigations, in which stream-of-conscious fever dreams and magical realism interplay in enriching, (at the time) altogether new written experiences." -- Lance Gould, Executive Editor of Special Projects

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