The House of the Spirits - Isabel Allende 1
This is, by far, Chilean author Isabel Allende's most famous book. If you only have time to read one book from this list, The House of the Spirits should be it. Allende tells the captivating story of three generations of the Trueba family intertwining past, present, family, politics and spirituality, like no author can.
Drown - Junot Diaz 2
Dominican Junot Diaz has written several other books after his debut--including the 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao--but Drown continues to be my favorite. It's probably because Drown is a collection of short stories that chronicles so many different aspects of being Latino in the United States.
In the Time of the Butterflies - Julia Alvarez 3
Another Dominican author, but with a story that takes place in the Dominican Republic during the violent Trujillo dictatorship. In the Time of the Butterflies is a powerful mix of fact and fiction that tells the story of the Mirabal sisters, murdered for plotting to overthrow the regime.
The House on Mango Street - Sandra Cisneros 5
A series of vignettes that tell the moving coming-of-age story of Esperanza Cordero, a Chicana growing up in Chicago. The House on Mango Street deals with issues of poverty, family, child abuse, education and Esperanza's dreams of becoming a writer.
The Hummingbird's Daughter - Luis Alberto Urrea 6
If you like historical novels, The Hummingbird's Daughter is for you. It took author Luis Alberto Urrea two decades to write this epic mystical masterpiece that retells the story of his great-aunt Teresita, a curandera who came to be known as la Santa de Cabora in the times of pre-revolutionary Mexico.
Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club - Benjamin Alire Sáenz 7
I haven't read this one yet, but it's the next one on my list. Benjamin Alire Sáenz' new book, Everything Begins and Ends at the Kentucky Club--which won the 2013 PEN/Faulkner Award fo fiction--is a collection of stories about crossing borders... but not just geographical ones.
When I was Puerto Rican - Esmeralda Santiago 8
Like Junot Diaz, Esmeralda Santiago has written many books after When I was Puerto Rican, but this one remains my favorite. Santiago begins her memoir in Puerto Rico, where she was born and raised until she moved to Brooklyn and had to adapt to a completely new life, including learning English. Any immigrant, regardless of their country of origin, will relate.
Bless Me, Ultima - Rudolfo Anaya 9
The father of Chicano literature, Rudolfo Anaya, wrote Bless me, Ultima back in 1972, but there's been a lot of buzz about it lately becuase the movie version was just released. Another coming-of-age story, but this time about a boy in New Mexico whose curandera aunt teaches him valuable life lessons that will help him as he becomes an adult.
Say Her Name - Francisco Goldman 11
A heartbreaking love story in which Francisco Goldman describes what it's like to lose your wife and be blamed for her untimely accidental death. Say Her Name will remind you of how beautiful and painful real love can be.
Looking for History: Dispatches from Latin America - Alma Guillermoprieto 12
If you want to understand recent Latin American history, you should read Alma Guillermoprieto's Looking for History. The experienced and prolific journalist takes you from Cuba to Colombia and everywhere in between.
Lost City Radio - Daniel Alarcón 13
Peruvian-born author Daniel Alarcon's debut novel is set in an unidentified Latin American country that's dealing with the aftermath of a long civil war between the government and terrorist guerrillas. Lost City Radio is a story of what happens to the survivors of violent conflicts like those most Latin American countries have experienced.
Dreaming in Cuban - Christina Garcia 14
In Dreaming in Cuba, Cristina Garcia tells the story of three generations of the del Pino family during the Cuban Revolution and in exile in the United States. You don't have to be Cuban to relate to what immigration does to a divided family.