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Track by Track: 5 Books to Read while Listening to Selena’s Dreaming of You Album

by  | June 11
Netflix Selena series photo

In Get Literary’s blog series Track by Track, we deep dive into buzzworthy music albums and pair them with our favorite books with the same vibe. For an enhanced reading experience, we recommend playing the whole album while reading each of these five books.

I’m pretty sure every little Latina girl like me grew up learning about the Tejano music legend that was Selena Quintanilla. With her raspy voice and bilingual blend of Tejano and pop music, Selena reached a fever pitch in her career—including winning a Grammy—shortly before her tragic death in 1995. Her last studio album, Dreaming of You, was the perfect illustration of Selena’s versatility, and when I listen to her, I feel empowered and beautiful.

Since her passing, dozens of commemorations to the Mexican American star have been made, including the famous biographical film that gave Jennifer Lopez her acting debut. Now, a new series in Selena’s honor is set to release on Netflix in late 2020.

As we approach the 25th anniversary of her last studio album’s release on July 18, here are some reads, as matchups, that you might enjoy while listening to each track.

The Unhoneymooners

The Unhoneymooners

by Christina Lauren

Track 1: “I Could Fall in Love”

Track 3: “I’m Getting Used to You”

Dreaming of You opens with one of Selena’s greatest English-language hits, “I Could Fall in Love,” about falling for someone even as you try not to, and the fear of how admitting your love might change the relationship. The mellow R&B rhythms and Selena’s sweet voice will hit straight at the heart of what it means to have secret crushes. The perfect follow up appears in Track no. 3, with “I’m Getting Used to You,” an upbeat twist of 90s pop and cumbia drums that describes what it feels like to have someone be part of your life, and how difficult it then becomes to imagine life without them.

In The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren, Olive Torres similarly finds herself in an uncertain romantic situation when she attends her sister’s wedding. She has had a streak of bad luck for as long as she can remember. Things don’t seem to change when Olive finds herself forced to spend her sister’s wedding day with her nemesis and best man, Ethan Thomas. In an unforeseen change of events, however, Olive and Ethan suddenly have to pretend to be loving newlyweds when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning—and a free honeymoon in Maui becomes available. While in Hawaii, Olive wonders if maybe Ethan isn’t so bad, and maybe she doesn’t mind being “newlyweds” either. In this romantic comedy, Olive comes to realize that she might be lucky after all.

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The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby

by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Track 5: “Dreaming of You”

The song for which Selena’s album is named is a beautiful ballad that makes your heart ache while dreaming of someone you love and hoping they dream of you too. Safe to say that most of us at one point or another have likely hoped that our crush thinks of us the way we think of them.

Jay Gatsby dreams about and longs for Daisy Buchanan in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. In this classic story, now released for the first time as a graphic novel, Gatsby is as an optimist—a man of mysterious wealth, status, and beautiful parties who only hopes for one thing: to win the heart and hand of Daisy Buchanan. There’s only one problem: since the last encounter between Jay and Daisy, Daisy has married Tom Buchanan, the figurehead of the Jazz Age’s old money. Whether love or money will prevail, Gatsby has unwavering hope.

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Dominicana

Dominicana

by Angie Cruz

Track 7: “Amor Prohibido”

Have you ever loved someone everyone told you that you shouldn’t? Selena passionately sings about just such forbidden love in this synthesized cumbia song, which touches upon the theme that money and status don’t have a place in matters of the heart.

Ana Canción faces similar turmoil in Angie Cruz’s Dominicana, a story about a 15-year-old Dominican girl who must marry a man twice her age when he promises to help her immigrate to New York for a better opportunity. There is no love between Ana and Juan Ruiz, but she agrees to the marriage at her parents’ insistence—and moves with him to a run-down six-floor walk-up in Washington Heights with the hope of one day helping her family immigrate as well. However, when Ana realizes she is miserable, and devises a plan to escape, she is caught by César, Juan’s younger brother, who convinces her to stay.

As political turmoil begins to rise in the Dominican Republic of the 1960s, Juan returns to protect his family's assets, leaving César to take care of Ana. With César, Ana is now free to explore the possibilities of New York, to have fun, and seize opportunities for personal growth. She begins to fall for him and imagine the possibility of a different life for herself in America. But when Juan returns, Ana must decide once again between her heart and her duty to her family.

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Dear Emmie Blue

Dear Emmie Blue

by Lia Louis

Track 11: “Como La Flor”

When I was a little girl in the 90s, I used to sing this song at the top of my lungs until my heart ached. I still do. That’s because Selena really tugged at the world’s heartstrings with “Como La Flor,” a song about how all the love someone once gave you withered and died like a flower, and how much that hurt. At the time, I knew not the first thing about heartbreak, but I understood the feeling all the same. And when you see that the person you love is growing distant and pushing you away, it’ll make you sing your heart out too.

In Dear Emmie Blue by Lia Louis, Emmie Blue decides to conduct an experiment. At 16 years old, she releases a red balloon into the sky with her name, email address, and secret inside it. Several weeks later, Lucas Moreau, a boy standing on a beach in France, catches it and responds, sparking a friendship between the two. Fourteen years later Emmie is secretly in love with Lucas, and she’s desperate for the moment he admits he feels the same about her.

Banking on Lucas’s love, Emmie has neglected her other relationships and personal life goals. When Lucas tells Emmie he has a big question to ask her, she believes he’ll reveal his feelings for her. But when things don’t go as planned, Emmie questions what she thinks she knows about love and life. Much like in Selena’s song, Emmie must pick up the pieces of her heart.

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Don't You Forget About Me

Don't You Forget About Me

by Mhairi McFarlane

Track 13: “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom”

Do you know that feeling of walking by your crush or your first love? Your stomach flutters and you feel like you’re walking on air. Selena’s hit song “Bidi Bidi Bom Bom,” an echo of the sound your heart makes when that person walks by, is a combination of Tejano music and reggae. It’s a perfect reflection of how I felt when I had my first crush, and the few times they talked to me I thought my heart would come out of my chest.

In Don’t You Forget About Me by Mhari McFarlane, Georgina re-encounters a love from a distant past after being fired from her job and coming home early to find her boyfriend in bed with someone else. When Georgina takes the next job that comes her way—as a bartender in a newly opened pub, she runs into the guy she fell in love with years ago in high school. But he doesn’t remember her. At all.

Lucas McCarthy is now a handsome man with a thriving business and a dog. When Georgina re-encounters him, it brings a secret from her past to the surface. Can she have another chance with the one who got away?

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Sabrina Sánchez is the Adult Production intern for Simon & Schuster, where she helps the staff keep books on schedule for print and release. She is a full-time student, freelance journalist, movie buff, and is currently obsessed with all things You, jazz and hip-hop. She is a Bronx native and avidly listens to Cardi B for a mood boost.