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Latino Heritage Month - Non-Fiction

Updated: October 1, 2018

Latino/Hispanic culture is part of North and South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and Spain. This list is a small selection of books on this subject. 

Rodriguez, Luis J., 1954-
Call Number: 301.450972 R695 2005

Luis J. Rodriguez, Poet Laureate of Los Angeles 2014 - 2016,  bravely, boldly recounts his life as a young Chicano gang member in East Los Angeles, with all of the violence, sadness and hopelessness that were part of that life.  He found a way out, through education and has made it his mission to help others.

Arenas, Reinaldo, 1943-1990.
Call Number: 863 A681A

One of modern Cuba's major writers, Arenas holds back little in this candid autobiography. Originally a young guerrilla fighter with Castro, he then spent 20 years in prison under the regime he had supported.  Finally making his way to the United State he fought a more desperate battle with AIDS.

Torregrosa, Luisita Lopez.
Call Number: 071.092 T6892

While covering the 1986 Philippine Revolution, Puerto Rican journalist Luisita Lopez Torregrosa falls in love with another writer, Elizabeth.  The love affair is overwhelming and changes Torregrosa's life forever.

Roca, Octavio, 1949-
Call Number: 793.32097291 R669

Ballet in Cuba is world-renowned because of prima ballerina assoluta Alicia Alonso, who is the focus of this book.

Rodriguez, Richard, 1944-
Call Number: 818 R6964

The memory of  a discussion with his father prompts Richard Rodriguez's collection of thought-provoking essays about Mexico and the United States with their intertwined and conflicted histories.

Hamill, Pete, 1935-
Call Number: 759.174 R621Ha

This lavishly illustrated biography of Diego Rivera is an excellent overview of the artist's productive, turbulent life as an artist and political activist.

Bujones, Fernando, 1955-2005.
Call Number: 793.324 B932

Cuban-American Fernando Bujones was a richly talented ballet start with the American Ballet Theatre.  He was the youngest principal dancer in the company and the first American dancer to win a gold medal at the Varna International Ballet Competition.

Blanco, Richard, 1968-
Call Number: 811 B6395B

Richard Blanco was the fifth poet selected to read an original poem for a United States Presidential Inauguration. As an openly gay man and Cuban immigrant this was a very special event, which he recounts with humor, insight and reverence. 

Schaefer, Claudia, 1949-
Call Number: 759.174 K12Sc

Great suffering and achievement were equal parts of Frida Kahlo's life. This biography is a concise and interesting introduction to her life and art.

Escobedo, Elizabeth Rachel.
Call Number: 301.4129794 E746

World War II opened up jobs for women and minorities, and for Mexican American women the opportunities caused a type of revolution in their personal lives, shaking up traditional customs and ideas about women going out into the world unprotected.

Rhodes, Richard, 1937-
Call Number: 946.08 R477

Many artists, writers, doctors, nurses, many who were not Spanish, volunteered to fight, help, or report on the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939.  Art, novels, journalism, medical and military technology developed  from the conflict.  Rhodes' premise is that this conflict was a testing ground for World War II and other 20th century conflicts that followed.

Rodriguez, Richard.
Call Number: 410 R696 1983

What price for assimilation and a university education?  In this candid autobiography, Richard Rodriguez recounts his childhood, knowing hardly any Englsh, and eventually earning a Ph.D, and becoming a Fullbright scholar at the Warburg Institute in London.  However, along the way he lost connections to his past, his family and his culture. 

Coronado, Juan David,
Call Number: 959.704 C822
During the late 1960s there were two main conflicts for the United States: the battle for civil rights and the Vietnam War. This new book gives voice to the Chicano experience in the war and as POWs.

Schraff, Anne E.
Call Number: 370.92 E74Sc

Jaime Escalante was an inspirational math teacher who proved to students and others that inner-ctiy students were capable of great achievements, including passing AP calculus exams. The movie Stand and deliver is based on his life. 


Lopez, Alfred J., 1962-
Call Number: 92 M378Lo

Poet, political thinker, journalist, revolutionary, José Marti is one of the great heroes of Latin America. He is beloved and hailed by Castro, and those who oppose him, the exiled Cuban community. Alfred Lopez workd for many years on this new biography, gaining access to original Cuban and U.S. sources.

Balderrama, Francisco E.
Call Number: 796.231 B176

"Latino baseball flourished in Southern California from the early 1900s to the 1970s. It was a popular sport, but it was also something more. Latino baseball leagues helped create a cohesive and vibrant Latino community and they were a source of community pride. The games became a place for meetings across the region and were integral to discussion and eventually political organization within the communities."  Photographs and narrative provide a vivid history. See the Latino Baseball History Project for more information.


Santillan, Richard.
Call Number: 796.231 S235

"Latino baseball flourished in Southern California from the early 1900s to the 1970s. It was a popular sport, but it was also something more. Latino baseball leagues helped create a cohesive and vibrant Latino community and they were a source of community pride. The games became a place for meetings across the region and were integral to discussion and eventually political organization within the communities."  This book chronicles the lives of players who worked and lived in the central part of California.

Trenchard, Kathleen.
Call Number: 747.1 T793

Finely detailed Mexican papercutting can be traced back to the pre-Columbian period. The paper is traditionally used for window coverings, hangings and in other decorative ways, and this book provides clear instructions.

Guevara, Che, 1928-1967.
Call Number: 92 G939-2 2004

This new edition features original photographs, a new translation and a preface from Aleida Guevara, Che's daughter. These are the adventures of the young man, twenty-four-year-old Ernesto Guevara, in 1951 taking a break from medical school at the University of Buenos Aires. We see the growth of a carefree fellow who witnesses poverty and deprivation which will change the future of his life. He travels with his buddy, Alberto Granado, on their Norton motorbike, La Ponderosa II.  What begins as a roadtrip adventure story, proceeds to be the awakening of a future world revolutionary, impatient with social and political injustices.

Sotomayor, Sonia, 1954-
Call Number: 347.092 S718

In this engaging memoir, explore one woman’s life and learn how she overcame barriers of poverty, race, and illness to achieve great success.

Quintero, Isabel,
Call Number: 770.9174 I91Qu

Isabel Quintero's graphic novel biography of Graciela Iturbide will appeal to all ages. Quintero interviewed the 76-year-old photographer whose pioneering work in photographing indigenous cultures is as remarkable as her own life. Other books by Iturbide can be found here.

Arreola, Daniel D. (Daniel David), 1950-
Call Number: 741.68 A774

Daniel D. Arreola has one of the largest collections of Mexican border town photo postcards, covering the early 1900s through the 1950s.  In the early part of the twentieth century the post cards were used to promote the quiet border towns as tourist destinations. The images are illuminating cultural pieces.

Silverstone, Michael.
Call Number: 972.81 M5355Si

The Nobel Peace Prize 1992 "in recognition of her work for social justice and ethno-cultural reconciliation based on respect for the rights of indigenous peoples"

Van Hensbergen, Gijs,
Call Number: 720.964 G267Va-1

An exploration and analysis of Antoni Gaudi's iconic architectural masterpiece, the Basilica and Expiatory Church of the Holy Family in Barcelona. Known for its sensual design, for having survived world wars, a civil war, years of economic deprivation, and not being completed for over 100 years. 

Davis, Joshua, 1974-
Call Number: 621.80973 D262

Four Mexican American boys, some of whom are in the U.S. illegally, compete in the Mate Center competition to develop robots. Is there any chance these disadvantaged guys have a chance to win anything?  What will happen to some of them if they do win and get a lot of notoriety?  With nothing to lose and something to gain, the young men give it their all.

Hijuelos, Oscar.
Call Number: 813 H639H

Oscar Hijuelos' autobiography is poignant and humorous as he retraces his life growing up in Manhattan's Morningside Heights in the 1950s to Cuban immigrant parents, and eventual development into a writer whose novel The mambo kings play songs of love became a best seller. His most recent novel is Twain & Stanley enter paradise.


Rivera, Jenni.
Call Number: 789.14 R621

Jenni Rivera was strong, determined, talented and very smart. This is her autobiography told her way, as she did everything else, including damaging choices in men.  She toughed it out to succeed in the male-dominated world of banda and norteño music to become an international sensation.


Webb, Alex, 1952- photographer.
Call Number: 770.914 W365-1

Because of its vividly colored soil, Cuba is known as the violet isle. Photographers Alex Webb and Rebecca Norris Webb capture the gritty street life and wild and domestic animals. Pico Iyer's essay is poetic and informative.

Santiago, Esmeralda.
Call Number: 301.45097295 S235 1994

Esmeralda Santiago was one of eleven children who grew up in a tin-can of a house in Puerto Rico, surrounded by quarreling parents and poverty. While living in Brooklyn with her grandmother, Santiago's ambition and hard work resulted in a Harvard education, and a successful career as a writer and film producer.

Moser, Benjamin.
Call Number: 869.3 L771Mo

Brazilian novelist, short story writer, and journalist, Clarice Lispector is well known for her innovative style of writing. Born in the Ukraine in 1920, she was brought to Brazil after World War I. Beautiful and brainy, her life was peripatetic and turbulent. This biography is based upon years of reserach and brings attention to a major writer.