Dear Readers: Behold your favorite Mexican's annual Christmas gift guide, where 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!
Juan in a Hundred: The Representation of Latinos on Network News: This book won't be published until January, but pre-order this masterful analysis of the paucity of Mexis on la tele, and the laughable representations that do make it through. Author Otto Santa Ana is a UCLA profe who boils down reams of data into a clear, well-written analysis.
Anything by Cinco Puntos Press: You might've read a recent New York Times story decrying the lack of Latinos in children's books. The Times' article was wrong: There are a chingo of children's and young-adult books featuring Mexis, and some of the best come from Cinco Puntos Press in El Paso. Run by my amigo Bobby Bird, Cinco Punto's books are wonderfully illustrated, hilarious — and they also sell great non-fiction for adults.
Anything by Lalo Alcaraz and Sam Quinones: I plug these guys every year for a reason — not only are they amigos and mentors, but they're the titans of their respective fields. Alcaraz, of course, draws awesome cartoons but this year also saw the advent of his pocho.com, what The Onion would be if it were Chicano and funny. And Los Angeles Times reporter Quinones just happens to be one of the best narrative reporters in the country, with his books, True Tales from Another Mexico and Antonio's Gun and Delfino's Dream: True Tales of Mexican Migration, the best books on Mexico since Insurgent Mexico.
Tex(t)-Mex: Seductive Hallucinations of the Mexican in America: Another annual plug because it deserves it, this scabrous take on Mexicans in the American imagination is penned by the eternally brilliant, eternally cochino William Nericcio.
Barrios to Burbs: The Making of the Mexican-American Middle Class: USC professor Jody Agius Vallejo penned a brilliant look into the Mexicans Americans don't want to acknowledge: those who aren't poor or cholos. She makes her fluid arguments with stats, great citations and amazing anecdotes.
An Atlas of Historic New Mexico Maps, 1550-1941: This gorgeous coffee table book published by the University of New Mexico Press presents pictures of all sorts of maps, along with brief histories of them and detailed close-ups.