What Books on Mexicans Should I Buy This Christmas?

[¡Ask a Mexican!] A list on the Mexican's favorite books this year—and Suavecito Pomade

DEAR READERS: Behold your favorite Mexican's annual Christmas gift guide, in which I give shout-outs to some of my favorite books that deserve your money this holiday season! And for once, I won't recommend my books—¡Ask a Mexican!, Orange County: A Personal History and Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America—as gifts . . . oh, wait, I just did! In all honesty, while I always appreciate ustedes buying my libros and handing them out as regalos, the following items are just as chingones, if not more so.


THE PERENNIALS
I've plugged the following books in the past, and I'll never stop plugging them because they're magnificent. North From Mexico by Carey McWilliams is the first serious history on Mexicans in the United States, by the legendary progressive journalist; Tex(t)-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the Mexican in America by William Nericcio is, to quote myself last year, a "scabrous take on Mexicans in the American imagination"; Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican-American Middle Class by USC professor Jody Agius Vallejo that's a beautifully written analysis of how Mexis move up in societal circles, with an intro by your favorite Mexican; and pick up anything by Lalo Alcaraz, legendary cartoonista, whose Latino USA—written alongside famous profe Ilan Stavans—is getting republished next year, with even more history, or Sam Quinones, who's currently working on a book about America's drug epidemic.

Mark Dancey

Details

Ask the Mexican at themexican@askamexican.net, be his fan on Facebook, follow him on Twitter or ask him a video question at youtube.com/askamexicano!

 

THE OLDIES-BUT-GOODIES
The Mexican never stops reading, but these classics are worth revisiting, all great starting points for those of ustedes who want to know your Chicano history. The Decline of the Californios: A Social History of the Spanish-speaking Californians, 1846-1890 by Leonard Pitt is a late-1960s tome that explains in depressing detail how California's Mexican-hating roots began; "With His Pistol In His Hand": A Border Ballad and Its Hero by Américo Paredes is a pioneering folklore study on the corridos surrounding Tejano hero Gregorio Cortez, written by one of the godfathers of Chicano Studies; and there's Occupied America, the ultimate textbook on Chicano Studies—namely, because it's the only one worth plugging.

 

THE NEWBIES
Standing On Common Ground: The Making of a Sunbelt Borderland
by Northwestern professor Geraldo L. Cadava is a much-needed, wonderfully researched, well-written overview of an often-forgotten part of Aztlán: Arizona. I mean, Arizona is always part of the conversation due to Arpayaso and all of its Know Nothing politicians, but we rarely talk about the good of the state other than Linda Ronstadt and bacon-wrapped hot dogs. Hotel Mariachi: Urban Space and Cultural Heritage In Los Angeles by Catherine L. Kurland is an awesome ethnography of the mariachis of Boyle Heights, with stunning photos giving readers a sense of place; it's published by the always impressive University of New Mexico Press. Finally, but definitely not least, a massive shout-out to Everything Begins and Ends At the Kentucky Club, a collection of short stories by El Paso writer Benjamin Alire Sáenz that won this year's prestigious PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction—a huge victory not just for Chicano literature but also small presses, as the cabrones who published it were my pals at Cinco Puntos Press.

 

THE POMADE?
So it's not a book, but I also urge ustedes to buy the man in your family Orange County's own Suavecito Pomade, which has an iron grip and floodlight shine that nevertheless washes out easily. It's the only product this Mexican allows on his pompadour, and so should you! Get it, hombre, at suavecitopomade.com, or tell your barber to stock some.

 

And remember folks: when you wrap up these books, make sure to stuff them in XBox 360 boxes to trick the recipient—it's the Mexican way!

 
My Voice Nation Help
21 comments
Jerry Vazquez
Jerry Vazquez

People in Mexico wont be able to buy any because the pri regime has raised taxes by 20% on books.

Joe Gomez
Joe Gomez

Actually i did buy Books for four People this Year

Art O
Art O

here's a recommendation albeit from a Cuban born author, Raul Ramos y Sanchez: America LIbre, A House Divided, and Pancho Land. This trilogy will scare the heck of those no-nothings. Ever wondered what would happen if the immigration issue gets out of hand? Read the books.

Xicano Viejo
Xicano Viejo

Why'd you leave out Taco Usa?! I'm gifting that bad boy left and right!!

Ask a Mexican
Ask a Mexican

If you don't want to give people books for Christmas, then I feel sad for you.

Ron López
Ron López

Suavecito is my Pomade! Its the best!

Joe Gomez
Joe Gomez

That was a pretty weak column , looking forward to reading Interesting questions and Sage advise

Vida Nayeli
Vida Nayeli

Check out anything written by chicana author "Malin Alegria " She does great books for Latino youth. Great gift idea for those middle,high school age kids that can b hard to choose a gift for. Check her out support chicano authors!!!

 
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