9 Latina Bookstagrammers That Are Bringing La Cultura to the Forefront
March is National Reading Month.
If you're an avid book reader, you'll know that books possess the distinct magic of being able to take you places you could only imagine in your wildest dreams. You could fly high like Amelia Earhart or travel to distant lands a la Dora The Explorer—reading books can get you there fast and on a budget (and who doesn't love budget travel?). But whether you are getting euphorically intoxicated perusing your local bookstore shelves or constantly looking for new recommendations to add to your Amazon wish list, you should look to Latina bookstagrammers to find inspiration for your next read.
Why? Because the below nine Latina bookstagrammers are a few chicas who have a deep understanding of how you can never, ever have too many books in your reading queue. These Latinas know and understand not only the difference that one book can make in the life of a person but also understand the importance of creating awareness for those within their communities who have gone unheard for far too long. Each one uses their individual platform to celebrate their culture by highlighting authors who remind all Latinos and BIPOC that there is more than enough space for everyone at the table to read about things that represent who they are. To see which Latina bookstagrammers you should follow, check out the nine #bosschicas below who are bringing their Latin cultura to the forefront on Instagram.
Latina bookstagrammers to follow on Instagram:
Carmen Alvarez, @tomesandtextiles
Alvarez is a Cuban-American book-loving Latina based in Florida who loves to share her passion for [mostly] young adult fiction through the use of vibrant and stylized photos on her Instagram account. She loves to highlight books by Latinx and BIPOC authors in ways that showcase her signature sense of vintage fashion and feminism into the mezcla (aka mixture). On the off chance that she isn't reading, you might catch Alvarez doing yoga, cooking, traveling, and spending time with her partner and two dogs.
Book recommendation: "I recently read and loved Fat Chance, Charlie Vega by debut author Crystal Maldonado. This YA contemporary explores what it means to be overweight and love yourself despite what society dictates you should feel about yourself. Charlie is an artist, she's half Puerto Rican, falling in love for the first time, has a fantastic relationship with her best friend, all while dealing with the grief of the loss of her father, insecurities, and a challenging relationship with her mother," Alvarez tells HelloGiggles. "Charlie finds self-love in a myriad of ways, from fashion to finding first love and examining her relationship with her mother. Crystal explores these topics so delicately and beautifully. I loved this book so much that I blurbed it."
Lupita Aquino, @lupita.reads
Aquino is a Mexican-born, Maryland-raised Latina who wants to amplify and highlight books from Latino and BIPOC authors. She raises her voice through the use of her column for the Washington Independent Review of Books, as a book curator for the BESE media company founded by actress and activist Zoe Saldana, and her personal blog.
Sol Kelly, @thesolreader
Per her website, this New Orleans-born bookstagrammer dedicates her Instagram and blog The Sol Reader to those who love to dive into books, adventure, and self-expression. The self-proclaimed "mood reader" loves to immerse herself into books that cover the genres of fiction, social science, gender and sexuality, and poetry. This quadrilingual reader (she can speak English, Spanish, French, and Japanese) loves to shine a light on "womxn of color, minorities, and other marginalized people" within the book and creative industry and help give them a voice, per Alegría.
Book Recommendation: "[I recommend] Women, Race & Class by Angela Y. Davis. Reading #WomenRaceAndClass felt like my mind was being pried open by the hands of Angela Davis herself and reconstructed with new information and perspectives regarding the #BlackLiberation and #WomenLiberation movements," Kelly says. "The recovery time is quite lengthy. Brace yourselves, babes, she gives you an abundance of historical information to ponder on in relation to these movements and the ways in which their interconnectivity became divided. Also, if you're into feminist reads or consider yourself to be a feminist, add this one to your list."
Ms. Alejandra, @libros.con.coffee
This Mexican-American bookstagrammer has a fiery passion for contemporary fiction and nonfiction libros written by and for BIPOC and Latinx authors. She uses her Instagram as a way to advocate for more BIPOC voices from both authors and reviewers as well as uplifting diverse books (especially those by Latinas). If you happen to find her not totally entranced by her latest reading adventure, you can find her working toward economic and racial equity within local governments, or sipping coffee or wine while watching TV. This Latina is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, but is currently living in the Washington, D.C. area.
Book Recommendation: "I recommend What's Mine and Yours, the second novel from Afro-Dominican author, Naima Coster, which is coming out on March 2, 2021," she says. "Her beautiful novel, told from multiple points of view, follows the lives of two families spanning continents and decades dealing with racism, gentrification, grief, addiction, incarceration, generational trauma, and the many aspects of messy family drama."
Neudy Gutierrez, @thecafeconlecheproject
Gutierrez is a first-generation Mexican-American student currently in the process of completing her Master's in Education with the hopes of eventually pursuing her PhD in education. She aspires to create effective change within the school system through changes in the curriculum and instruction at the national level. Gutierrez loves to read books of all kinds, but mainly highlights stories that are non-fiction and contemporary fiction. She believes these books can teach people more about themselves, their culture, and how to appreciate each person's individual experience.
Book Recommendation: "Some books I will always recommend are Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar, Borderlands/La Frontera by Gloria Anzaldua, Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde, The Woman of Brewster Place by Gloria Naylor, and Tar Baby by Toni Morrison," Gutierrez says.
Lauren Capellan, @bylaurencapellan
Capellan is a Dominican-American New York City native and graduate student pursuing a Master's degree in Library and Information Science in hopes to become a librarian. As a regular library user and enthusiast, she uses her platform to promote library usage as well as encourage reading about characters and authors that fall within widely marginalized communities. She loves to read books that provide the reader with topics that encourage deep reflection, contemporary fiction, and fictional short story collections.
Book Recommendation: "I recommend Love War Stories by Ivelisse Rodriguez. This collection focuses on Puerto Rican women's ideas around love: what it looks like, what it means, and what lessons are passed down from generation to generation," Capellan says. "Rodriguez's stories provide readers with a range of emotions—from the comical to the heartbreaking."
Iris Castro, @irisbooklist
Castro is a born and raised Cuban Latina residing in Florida. She works at NBC/Telemundo as a Content Producer and Social Media Reporter, is fluent in three languages (Spanglish being one of them), and loves to dive into memoirs, historical fiction, and thrillers. She loves to use her platform to highlight books written by women, especially if they are Latinx, Black, Queer, or any other underrepresented or minority group. The Cuban transplant is also the proud host of the #MeetTheAuthor live chat where she talks shop with amazing women writers.
Book Recommendation: "[I recommend] The Undocumented Americans by Karla Cornejo Villavicencio. This is the type of book I can't 'review.' How do you put into words so many feelings? You simply can't. Have you ever thought [about] what it means to be undocumented? Think again. Or even better, let the people in this book explain it to you," she says.
"This book, as [Karla Cornejo Villavicencio] said, 'is for everybody who wants to step away from the buzzwords in immigration, the talking heads, the kids in graduation caps and gowns, and read about the people undergrown.' If you read it (and you should) you'll not be left unscarred. And that's okay," she says. "Feel all the feelings, speak out, vote. Karla...gracias for seeing us. 'Characters. Not heroes. Randoms. People.'"
Alessandra Magaña-Hurt, @naturemamareads
This proud Chicana resides in northern Arizona and uses her voice to bring her amor y pasión for books, nature, and her local community. This self-proclaimed mood reader loves to read up on a myriad of genres like Latinx fantasy, Afro-futurism, speculative fiction, dystopian, non-fiction medical, and nature memoirs. When she's not exploring nature, you can find her working as a nursing assistant at her local hospital (she's also in nursing school!). Magaña-Hurt has plans to become a published author one day and is currently writing her own book.
Book Recommendation: "I recommend Eartheater by Dolores Reyes. It explores the lives of those who are forgotten in society. This is a speculative fiction and social commentary on femicide, injustice, corruption in law enforcement, and the community going to great lengths to lay their loved ones' memories to rest. This feminist novel is complex and dark, told from the point of view of a young woman with special powers to see the last moments of murder victims by consuming the dirt on which they passed," she says. "Also packed with all the flair of Argentinian culture, it's a beautifully written and colorful book! If you don't know—Argentinian women write amazing horror (i.e. Samantha Schweblin, and Agustina Maria Bazterrica)! I'm excited to pick up what Dolores Reyes writes next. It's bound to be a masterpiece."
Mel Gill, @bookrecsbymel and @thesteambox
Gill is not only an avid reader, but she is also a proud Navy veteran, a dog mamá, and a military spouse. The Peruana is a romantic and loves to get lost in romance novels that specifically are written by BIPOC authors and authors who identify as part of the LGBTQ community. Her love for romance novels led her to create her own business, The Steam Box (which is sold out), in an effort to amplify the voices of people in the BIPOC community. Through her platforms, she hopes to continue creating awareness for authors who have been left out of the spotlight for far too long.
Book Recommendation: "Some books I recommend are Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan and truly anything written by Kennedy Ryan. [I also recommend] The Affairs of the Falcons by Melissa Rivero, Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko, Accidentally Engaged by Farrah Heron, Intercepted by Alexa Martin, Seven Days in June by Tia Williams releasing summer , and A Cuban Girls Guide to Tea and Tomorrow by Laura Taylor Namey!"