Every once in awhile, a young student will walk into my office and immediately be struck by the number of books s/he sees on my shelves.
“Have you read all of these books?,” they’ll ask.
“Yes,” I’ll say. “It’s what they pay me to do.”
In actuality, I really haven’t. As a historian, many of the books I have are for reference while working on a lecture for a class, or a book or an article. I have “covered” almost every book I have on my shelves, that is, I have read substantial parts of it to identify the argument, sources, perspective, and various elements of the proof.
It might seem odd, but I’m actually not a voracious reader. I don’t love books they way other academics do. I love History. I LOVE Chicano/Latino histories. I am obsessed with the evolving, scholarly understanding of us and our collective past. I am also obsessed with California history, the history of social movements for change, and the history of racial inequality in the US.
When you put it all together, I’m not much for a novel, but I intellectually salivate over a new book on the the history of the Chicano Movement, or the UFW, or some other kindred topic.
In any event, every once in awhile I think it is important for those of us who read and write in these fields to remind others that we exist. What’s better, we know and have books. Whoever you are, if you’re ever interested in learning more about the varied pasts of the Chicano/a and Latina/o people, I’d be more than willing to point you in the direction of a great book.Pictured above are some of my shelves of books in the office related to: California history (closest section, all shelves), Chicana Feminism (farthest section, top two shelves), and Chicano/Latino History (the whole middle section, and bottom shelves of farthest section).