Butler community weighs in on their favorite Spanish books

Here are five books to read in honor of National Hispanic Heritage month. Photo courtesy of hispanicheritagemonth.gov.

GRACIE ELMER | STAFF REPORTER | gelmer@butler.edu

September has finally arrived, and with it, an opportunity to enjoy an important month of celebration: Hispanic Heritage Month. According to the Law Library of Congress, “National Hispanic Heritage month celebrates and recognizes the contributions Hispanic Americans have made to American society and culture.”

This is the first article in a month-long series devoted to diving into Hispanic culture. In honor of this event, here are five interesting Spanish books to cozy up with this month.

Gabi, a Girl in Pieces” by Isabel Quintero

This coming-of-age memoir chronicles the life of a high school senior as she attempts to juggle the usual pressures of teenhood with forming her identity as a Mexican-American girl in America. 

Brisa Rivera is a sophomore creative writing major who works as a secretary for Butler’s Latinx Student Union — previously Latinos Unidos. Rivera said she feels that books like these can help people better understand the Hispanic experience here in America.

“I feel like it’s becoming a trend in popular authors that we’re seeing to write memoirs about the Hispanic or Latino experience here in America,” Rivera said. “More authors are speaking out and saying, ‘Hey, I exist,’ in a culture where we’re told to just go with the flow and not exist as much as possible.”

Don Quixote” by Miguel de Cervantes

In this famous book, a man dreams of becoming a knight and embarks on a quest to accomplish this task, all while creating problems for himself along the way. The blending of fantasy, action and adventure in this book is just one of the reasons to check it out. 

Gwen Valles is a senior international studies and Spanish double major and the former president of Latinx Student Union. She recommends the book for its cultural references and more. 

“With Don Quixote, there’s so many cultural references and anecdotes made to that play and book, and now it’s like a character trope in a lot of plays in Spain,” Valles said.

Patria” by Fernando Aramburu

Known as “Homeland” in English, this book tells a gripping tale about two lifelong friends who are ripped apart by a deadly feud between their two families. Rivera recommends similar books because they highlight real-world experiences. 

“[These books] kind of go against our common culture of being humble by saying, ‘This is what I experienced and it’s valid, so this is a story,'” Rivera said.

Coplas a la muerte de su padre” by Jorge Manrique

In this collection of poems, the author honors his father’s passing by reflecting on the philosophy of death. 

Juan Rodriguez, an associate professor of Spanish at Butler, recommends these poems for their interesting insights into morality.

“The very first one is very famous in Spanish literature because it says no matter whether you are rich, poor, you’ve had luck in your life or not, there is something that not one of us can prevent, and that is death,” Rodriguez said. “[These texts reveal] that it’s better to be a good person than it is to have a collection of possessions.”

Territorio comanche” by Arturo Pérez-Reverte

In this book, the author describes his experience of reporting in a war zone. 

Rodriguez recommends the book for its focus on the realities of war reporting.

“At some moments, the author mentioned harsh feelings, like how he got emotional over a dog who was wounded on the streets, but at the same time, he did not feel that impacted when he saw more and more dead people,” Rodriguez said. “In many of the cases, I was putting on the skin of the reporter [and seeing] all of the injustices.”

Without further ado, grab a fall beverage, relax and honor this cultural celebration with some of these Butler community-approved books. 

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