We’ve surveyed a number of independent bookstores to ask, ‘What should we be reading this summer?’ Over the coming weeks, we’ll bring you recommendations from each.
La Casa Azul is owner Aurora Anaya-Cerda’s daily love letter to her community. She opened the store a year ago in New York City’s East Harlem to create a space dedicated to Latino literature, culture and political empowerment. She saw the need when she’d visit chain bookstores and find Latino literature relegated to a lone bookshelf. “We’re more than one shelf,” she told Colorlines last year. “I’ve been able to fill up an entire bookstore and that’s been a really wonderful experience.” Here, Anaya-Cerda and La Casa Azul staff members share their selections.
1. “Rita Moreno: A Memoir” by Rita Moreno (Celebra, 2013)
“Rita Moreno’s memoir is a rare glimpse into the Hollywood life of the 50’s and 60’s from a pioneer who broke down doors for herself and for future generations of Latino actors and artists. Moreno’s compelling, honest and open book describes her countless attempts to avoid typecasting and the film that ultimately changed her life. She also writes of her life as an activist, wife and mother. This is a story of survival, love and perseverance—incredibly candid and inspiring.” —Aurora Anaya-Cerda
2. “The Distance Between Us” by Reyna Grande (Washington Square Press, 2013)
“Alongside her brother and sister, Grande was a small child when both her father and mother left Mexico and for the U.S. in search of better work. This memoir gives a voice to children of migrants and migrant children [dealing] with issues of poverty, family separation, deportation and emotional trauma in their daily lives. Grande’s narrative is essential to understanding immigration on a deeper and more personal level.”—Denise Manjarrez, school programs coordinator
3. “Bless Me, Ultima” by Rudolfo Anaya (TQS Publications, 1972)
“‘Bless Me, Ultima’ allows the reader to see inside the world of a young boy who is struggling to come to terms with a mainstream faith versus a curandera who teaches him the beauty of the earth and the magic of nature. The plot weaves together themes of life, transformation and death.”—Christopher Lopez, Operations Intern