New Book: With a Book in Their Hands

With a Book in Their Hands: Chicano/a Readers and Readerships across the Centuries

Edited by Manuel M. Martín-Rodríguez

First Place Winner of the 2015 International Latino Book Award for Best Latino Focused Nonfiction Book

Literary history is a history of reading. What happens during the act of reading is the subject of the branch of literary scholarship known as reader-response theory. Does the text guide the reader? Does the reader operate independently of the text? Questions like these shape the approach of the essays in this book, edited by a scholar known for his groundbreaking work in using reader-response theory as a window into Chicana and Chicano literature.

Manuel M. Martín-Rodríguez has overseen several research projects aimed at documenting Chicana and Chicano reading practices and experiences. Here he gathers diverse and passionate accounts of reading drawn from that research. For many, books served as refuges from the sorrows of a childhood marked by violence or parental abandonment. Several of the contributors here salute the roles of teachers in introducing poetry and stories into their lives.


Manuel M. Martín-Rodríguez is a professor of literature and a founding faculty member of the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts at the University of California, Merced.


“Highly recommended.”

— Choice


With a Book in their Hands is a fine scholarly and literary contribution to Chicano/a and Chicano/a-related fields of study, further unveiling the richness and complexity of Mexican American (reading) history from the late sixteenth century to the present.”

— SHARP News


“Refreshingly inclusive and analytically rigorous. . . . [With a Book in Their Hands] magnifies the too often neglected history of reading in the Chicano/a experience. This unique intellectual sensibility captures the importance of constructing an accessible literary history and canon that prioritizes identifying, fleshing out, and learning from the act of reading.”

— New Mexico Historical Review


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