A Latinx reader grapples with Latinx Heritage Month.
Latinx Heritage Month comes with a mix of emotions for me. On the one hand, it feels like a perfect opportunity to encourage non-Latinx readers to pick up more Latinx-authored books. On the other, as a Latinx reader myself, it stings to see stacks of these books suddenly appear all over non-Latinx readers’ or publishers’ Instagram accounts, or to see “Must-Read Books During Latinx Heritage Month!” lists circulate from every mainstream media outlet.
It’s a stark reminder that these amazing books don’t receive the same deserved spotlight and recognition the rest of the year.
As soon as September 15th hits, I begin to anticipate these “Latinx Heritage Month TBR” Instagram postings featuring unread Latinx-authored books that have, perhaps, collected dust all year while waiting for this specific month and photograph. I might sound cynical, but as a Latinx reader navigating a community in which Latinx books are often “othered” and celebrated strictly during specific moments, it’s hard not to feel that way.
So, a dilemma exists for me and likely other Latinx readers: How do we support Latinx Heritage Month without discouraging the reading of Latinx-authored books all year long? How do we celebrate this month without isolating, othering, and limiting our literary community/contributions to just one month?
Because, in the end, Latinx Heritage Month is an opportunity to proudly yell and share that Latinx readers exist and that we have so many emotions when connecting with Latinx-authored books.
When I created the #LatinxBookstagramTour on Instagram, I was hoping to discover those emotions. I was hoping to connect and share stories with fellow Latinx readers around Latinx literature and what it means to us; what it means to have Latinx literature in our lives; what it was like before, when we didn’t have this literature; and why it might have taken us so long to find those books that tell our stories.
Through this tour — which features and amplifies fellow Latinx readers and their favorite Latinx books — I discovered all of that and more. A common theme among Latinx readers is that many of us weren’t exposed to enough Latinx literature growing up. It took us a while to come across books written by members of, and featuring, our own communities.
Many of us simultaneously rejoice and grieve when we finally, later in life, see ourselves reflected in the pages of a book. And we silently wonder what it would have been like to read these books when we were younger.
Ultimately, I’ve discovered that celebrating in community helps drown out all the book stacks and lists that only appear once a year. And celebrating in community reminds me that existing as a Latinx reader is more than just “enough.” It’s necessary.
Lupita Aquino — better known as Lupita Reads — is the co-founder and current lead of LIT on H St. Book Club at Solid State Books. She is a passionate reader active in both the local and online book community through her Instagram blog, @Lupita.Reads. You can also catch her tweeting about books over at @lupita_reads.