Selena and her music has always been a part of my life. Growing up in Texas in the 1990s in a Mexican American household, Selena was everywhere. We played her music, we watched her appearances on Spanish programs, and if you were lucky, you attended one of her concerts at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. She was the first time many of us in the Chicano community saw someone like them represented in the media. Which is why over 20 years after her tragic death Selena, the Queen of Tejano music, is now an icon to the entire Latinx community. Selena’s music will continue to play and her legacy will continue to grow.
Here's the ultimate Selena playlist and reading list by Hispanic and Latinx authors. Click on the book cover for more details and click on the song title to listen.
Tengo un recuerdo de ti… A song about how photos and memories fade, but the love lasts, ties perfectly to Luis Alberto Urrea’s The House of Broken Angels. This beautiful novel uses flashbacks to tell the complex story of the De La Cruz family. Family secrets are revealed, but their bonds and love for each other are strengthened.
Como la flor con tanto amor… Like a flower with so much love, sounds so magical it has to be paired with Zoraida Córdova’s The Inheritance of Orquídea Divina. This enchanting, magical realism novel follows an Ecuadorian American family as they uncover their family’s past and the truth behind the powers they’ve inherited from their matriarch Orquídea.
I will survive…Not much disco can be found in Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Velvet Was the Night, but like Selena, Moreno-Garcia uses familiar medleys of noir to make it her own. Set in 1970s Mexico City this smoky noir brings together romance comics reading secretary Maite and eccentric criminal Elvis as they both search for the same missing woman.
Yo tenía una esperanza… A beautifully sang song, that expresses so much hurt, and the ability to move on, reminds me of Angie Cruz’s Dominicana. Set in 1960s Washington Heights, Dominicana is a heart-wrenching and hopeful coming of age story of a young Dominican woman forced to marry a man twice her age and her strength to find her place in the world.
Otra oportunidad… In La Llamada, Selena tosses her cheating boyfriend and tells him if he calls, she'll hang up on him. Messy breakups and drama delivered in a fun and upbeat way screams Alexis Daria’s You Had Me At Hola. Set in the drama -filled world of telenovelas, this hilarious rom-com follows soap star Jasmine, fresh from a very public breakup, connecting with her new costar Ashton, a telenovela actor trying to revitalize his career.
I could lose my heart tonight… Opening yourself to love, even if you might lose that love sounds a lot like Lilliam Rivera’s Never Look Back. A contemporary Latinx retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus and Eurydice, in which Eury, haunted by the tragedy of Hurricane Maria and by evil spirit Ato, leaves Puerto Rico for the Bronx where she meets the charming Pheus, a bachata-singer with a golden voice.
Mi corazón quiere cantar así…When you see the one you love, your heart just wants to sing "Bidi Bidi Bom Bom", and it will when you read Johnny Garza Villa’s Fifteen Hundred Miles From the Sun . This heartfelt debut novel is about Julián "Jules" Luna, a closeted gay teen, that has to deal with his father’s machismo attitude and his feelings for Mat, a boy who lives fifteen hundred miles away.
Aqui solo importa nuestro amor... Love between two people from different backgrounds that must make their own place in the world, hits similar notes to Laekan Zea Kemp’s Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet. Told in two voices, this stunning novel is about the romance between Pen, who dreams of opening her own pastelería (much to the dismay of her restaurateur parents), and Xander, a new, undocumented employee at Pen’s family restaurant searching for his father.
Carcacha, paso a pasito... Selena sings about her boyfriend's carcacha, or junky car, that receives laughs and whispers, but doesn't matter to her because she knows his real worth. This song about acceptance, love, and a car fits so well with Raquel Vasquez Gilliland’s How Moon Fuentez Fell in Love with the Universe. This young adult novel follows insecure wallflower Moon Fuentez, the “merch girl” for her social media famous twin Star, as she banters and falls for her snarky, grumpy nemesis Santiago Phillips during a cross country road trip on a tour bus of beautiful influencers.