10 books like The Firefly Letters

By Margarita Engle,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like The Firefly Letters. Shepherd is a community of 6,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Out of the Dust

By Karen Hesse,

Book cover of Out of the Dust

Out of the Dust was the first verse novel I read. Set during the Dust Bowl of the thirties, I was drawn into the story from the first page. I loved Billy Jo, the main character, and was impressed by Karen Hesse’s ability to capture, in so few words, the dust, desolation, and difficulty of living in Oklahoma at that time. 

Out of the Dust

By Karen Hesse,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Out of the Dust as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Acclaimed author Karen Hesse's Newbery Medal-winning novel-in-verse explores the life of fourteen-year-old Billie Jo growing up in the dust bowls of Oklahoma.

Out of the Dust joins the Scholastic Gold line, which features award-winning and beloved novels. Includes exclusive bonus content!"Dust piles up like snow across the prairie. . . ."A terrible accident has transformed Billie Jo's life, scarring her inside and out. Her mother is gone. Her father can't talk about it. And the one thing that might make her feel better -- playing the piano -- is impossible with her wounded hands.To make matters worse, dust storms are…

The Watch That Ends the Night

By Allan Wolf,

Book cover of The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic

The Watch That Ends The Night tells the story of the Titanic through the voices of those who were there. I read this after I had written my own most recent book and was struck with how similarly Allan and I approached historical catastrophes. Both books are multi-voiced and contemplate the same issues of privilege and class distinctions. Like me, Allan chose to listen to nature and endow her with a voice of her own.

The Watch That Ends the Night

By Allan Wolf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Watch That Ends the Night as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Audie Award, Distinguished Achievement in Production, 2012

Arrogance and innocence, hubris and hope - 24 haunting voices of the Titanic tragedy, as well as the iceberg itself, are evoked in a stunning tour de force. 

More than 2,000 men, women, and children are on board. Here on the first-class promenade is millionaire John Jacob Astor, who hopes his return from Egypt with his pregnant teen bride will invite a minimum of media attention. And here, in the third-class common room, a beautiful Lebanese refugee, on her way to family in Florida, discovers first love. And there in the distance, shrouded…


White Rose

By Kip Wilson,

Book cover of White Rose

This is based on the true story of Sophie Scholl, who courageously rebelled against the restrictions and horrors of the Nazi regime. White Rose was a more recent read and it saddened me to think that we've learned so little from the lessons of the past. Though it is a story with a tragic ending, White Rose reminded me how important it is to speak out against injustice before injustice becomes the norm. 

White Rose

By Kip Wilson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked White Rose as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Disillusioned by the propaganda of Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl, her brother, and his fellow soldiers formed the White Rose, a group that wrote and distributed anonymous letters criticizing the Nazi regime and calling for action from their fellow German citizens. The following year, Sophie and her brother were arrested for treason and interrogated for information about their collaborators. This debut novel recounts the lives of Sophie and her friends and highlights their brave stand against fascism in Nazi Germany.

The Full Cicada Moon

By Marilyn Hilton,

Book cover of The Full Cicada Moon

This book is set in 1969, before the onslaught of cell phones and social media, when all eyes gazed upward toward the moon. Apollo 11 was preparing for its launch to the heavens, and the main character, Mimi Oliver dreams of becoming an astronaut. But first, as the daughter of a Japanese mother and Black father, Mimi needs to discover her own identity here on earth. The Full Cicada Moon illustrates my core belief that books build bridges between time and culture— just as Mimi does. 

The Full Cicada Moon

By Marilyn Hilton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Full Cicada Moon as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Inside Out and Back Again meets One Crazy Summer and Brown Girl Dreaming in this novel-in-verse about fitting in and standing up for what’s right

It's 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to go to the moon. But for half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, moving to a predominantly white Vermont town is enough to make her feel alien. Suddenly, Mimi's appearance is all anyone notices. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, even as she fights for her right to stand out by entering science competitions and joining Shop Class instead of Home Ec. And even though teachers…

One Hundred Bottles

By Ena Lucía Portela, Achy Obejas (translator),

Book cover of One Hundred Bottles

This novel is both sexy and chilling. It is the journey of a young woman, about her lovers, the intimacy of friendship, and her alluring social life in Havana, Cuba. With each page you sip the intensity of youth and political drama on the island. After traveling to Cuba to protest the US embargo in the 1990s and living for so many years in Miami with friends in the Cuban diaspora, Cuban's transnational socio-cultural complex frames how I think about islands. I relish how Portela writes, she is the friend who coaxes you out, keeps you up all night, with the promises of thrill, excitement, and a bit of danger. 

One Hundred Bottles

By Ena Lucía Portela, Achy Obejas (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked One Hundred Bottles as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One Hundred Bottles, with its intersecting characters and unresolved whodunits, can be read as a murder mystery. But it's really a survivor's story. In a voice that blends gossip, storytelling, and literature, Z-the vivacious heroine of Portela's award-winning novel-relates her rum-soaked encounters with the lesbian underground, the characters carving up her home, and the terrifying-but-irresistible Moises. As entertaining as any detective drama, One Hundred Bottles is ultimately made real by very rough love, intense friendship, and something small that decides to live.

The Surrender Tree/El Árbol de la Rendición

By Margarita Engle,

Book cover of The Surrender Tree/El Árbol de la Rendición: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom/Poemas de la Lucha de Cuba Por Su Libertad

Set in late 1800s Cuba, during their wars for independence from Spain and the first wave of reconcentration camps, this entry holds a special place on my list because it’s written in free verse. I believe poetry can capture emotion in a raw, powerful way that prose sometimes can’t, and Engle’s work serves as a perfect example of this. Through alternating perspectives, this book shows readers the horrors of war alongside the power of hope and compassion.

The Surrender Tree/El Árbol de la Rendición

By Margarita Engle,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Surrender Tree/El Árbol de la Rendición as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle For Freedom / El árbol de la rendición: poemas de la lucha de cuba por su libertad is a lyrical, Newbery Honor-winning history in poems, and this bilingual edition has the Spanish and English text available in one book.

¿La Guerra Chiquita?
¿Cómo puede haber una guerra chiquita?
¿Acaso algunas muertes
son más pequeñas que otras,
dejan madres
que lloran
un poco menos?

It is 1896. Cuba has fought three wars for independence and still is not free. People have been rounded up in reconcentration camps with too little food and too much…


Fatal Glory

By Tom Chaffin,

Book cover of Fatal Glory: Narciso Lopez and the First Clandestine U.S. War Against Cuba

Tom Chaffin is a great writer of narrative history, and this, his exciting first book, covers the daring filibuster attempts between 1849 and 1851 by a native Venezuelan to liberate Cuba from Spanish rule. López and many of his recruits died in two futile invasions of Cuba in 1850 and 1851, as his landings on Cuba’s shores were brutally repressed by Spanish military authorities. Lopez’s story fascinates on many levels, one of them being his contacts and intersections with key southern politicians of the time like John C. Calhoun, Jefferson Davis, and Mississippi’s radical secessionist governor John A. Quitman, as well as New Yorker John L. O’Sullivan, the newsman often credited with coining the famous term “manifest destiny.” The book is great on the nuts and bolts of mounting filibuster expeditions and how filibuster leaders managed to launch their expeditions from U.S. soil despite attempts by U.S. legal officers and…

Fatal Glory

By Tom Chaffin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fatal Glory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Between 1848 and 1851, Lopez tried five times to dislodge Cuba's Spanish government. This text recounts Lopez's daring invasions of Cuba and reveals how he was assisted by New York steam ship magnates, penny press editors, Cuban industrialists and northern democratic urban bosses.

Jose Marti Reader

By Jose Marti,

Book cover of Jose Marti Reader: Writings on the Americas

José Martí was a poet and writer who became the leader of Cuba’s final independence movement from Spain. He died in battle in 1895 and is the island’s best-known hero – images and statues of him can be found in almost every town in Cuba. He spent much of his life in exile, including in the United States. He was a prolific journalist, and his essay ‘Nuestra América’ (Our America, 1881) is one of his most-cited works. His observations about the US and the rest of the Americas were astute, and his work continues to offer insights that are applicable to the present day.

Jose Marti Reader

By Jose Marti,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Jose Marti Reader as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?


“[Martí] added a social agenda to the historic program of national liberation and instantly converted a movement devoted to the establishment of a new nation into a force dedicated to shaping a new society. Martí transformed rebellion into revolution. . . . Like a master weaver, Martí pulled together all the separate threads of Cuban discontent—social, economic, political, racial, historical—and wove them into a radical movement of enormous force.”—Louis A. Pérez Jr, author of José Martí in the United States
 
“Oh Cuba! . . . the blood of Martí was not yours alone; it belonged to an entire race, to…

When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba

By Basil Woon,

Book cover of When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba

Privately published in 1928 by Horace Liveright, British playwright and journalist Basil Woon captured the energy that took hold of Havana during Prohibition in the USA, as Americans flocked by the thousands to drink, gamble, and party served by hundreds of Cuban and self-exiled American bartenders amid the tropical beauty that is Cuba. This book opened my eyes to clues that helped me sort out the true origins of the Mary Pickford, the Mojito, and the El Presidente. While my husband and I travelled to Havana once a year for ten years, this book guided us to the places we wanted to visit to capture the spirit and essence of Cuban cocktails.

When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba

By Basil Woon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked When It’s Cocktail Time in Cuba as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Hardback copy of When It's Cocktail Time in Cuba, by Basil Woon.

Cuba Open from the Inside

By Chris Messner,

Book cover of Cuba Open from the Inside: Travels in the Forbidden Land

Cuba occupies a place of undisputed fascination in the American psyche. This island nation remains a mystery to most Americans despite its proximity to America. Few Americans have traveled to Havana, and still fewer have traveled deeper into this isolated country.

Chris Messner, a photographer, is one of the few Americans who have been able to travel extensively throughout this island. In his book, Cuba Open from the Inside, Messner documents the character of Cuba's people, its rich history, and the country's vast culture.

As Cuba's leaders age and the possibility of travel to Cuba increases, this book acts as an exceptional resource for would-be travelers. Through multiple journeys, Messner has covered more than 4,000 miles on the back roads of Cuba. Through his words and pictures he provides a snapshot of this island nation and documents the Cuba of today—the 1950s time capsule country located 90 miles from…

Cuba Open from the Inside

By Chris Messner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cuba Open from the Inside as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Cuba occupies a place of undisputed fascination in the American psyche. Despite its proximity to America, this island nation remains a mystery to most Americans. Few Americans have traveled to Havana, and still fewer have traveled deeper into this isolated country.

Chris Messner, a photographer, is one of the few Americans who have been able to travel extensively throughout this island. In his book, "Cuba Open from the Inside," Messner documents the character of Cuba's people, its rich history, and the vast culture of the country.

As Cuba's leaders age and the possibility of travel to Cuba increases, this book…

5 book lists we think you will like!

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