Summer Reading: “46 Books by Women of Color to Read in 2018”

Electric Lit logo

“46 Books by Women of Color to Read in 2018”
R.O. Kwon
Electric Literature, Dec. 26, 2017

At the end of last year, the novelist R.O. Kwon put together this excellent list of books by women of color that were slated to be published in 2018. It includes all sorts of writers I regularly try to draw inspiration and perspective from. In her headnote that precedes the list, Kwon urges us: “Let’s read more broadly; let’s try inhabiting one another’s wildly varied, entirely human points of view.”

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: The Idiot

The Idiot book cover

The Idiot
Elif Batuman

This novel follows Selin throughout her freshman year at Harvard University, eventually leading to the summer after that pivotal year, in which she travels to Europe to participate in an English-language teaching program. Selin is a student of language and literature, and while there’s a strong literary bent to the book, it taps into so much more. It’s about crushes and roommates and first love and misunderstandings and emailing and being 18 and weird. It’s about first beers and walking around in the mornings with someone new, and all the small things that sometimes outweigh the big ones.

The book isn’t so much about a single moment of discovery, but rather the series of discoveries that make up everyday life as a young adult. These range from the mundane to the profound, and can be painfully relatable. Selin navigates a world familiar to most university students, in the strange liminal space of becoming who you’re supposed to be. It’s funny and nostalgic and totally engrossing.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: Stealing Buddha’s Dinner

Stealing Buddha's Dinner book cover

Stealing Buddha’s Dinner
Bich Minh Nguyen

One of the first images Nguyen relates in her memoir, Stealing Buddha’s Dinner, is of her being mesmerized by the daughter of her host family, Heather Heidenga, reaching into a canister of Pringles and shoving a handful into her mouth.

This “American” memory is the start to the story of her family’s immigration from Vietnam to Michigan in 1975 and her desire to fit into her white suburban community. Instead of her grandmother’s traditional Vietnamese dishes, or her Mexican-American stepmother’s lack of interest in cooking, she longs for Toll House cookies made by Jennifer Vander Wal’s mother, or Mrs. Jansen’s blueberry muffins, made with Jiffy mix. Her imagination carries her into her books she is so fond of reading, eating salt pork (or bacon in her case) just like Laura in Little House on the Prairie, or connecting with Ramona Quimby, who also had to eat boring snacks and resented her blond, pretty neighbor.

Through this coming of age story, we can relate to Nguyen’s struggle with being an outsider. But through her memories, it is her uniqueness that ultimately defines her identity, and her voice is found in this otherness that we all too often try to avoid.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


May 3: Lunch poems featuring student readings

The Morrison LibraryThursday, May 3
12:10 p.m. – 12:50 p.m.
Morrison Library in Doe Library
Admission Free

One of the year’s liveliest events, the student reading includes winners of the following prizes: Academy of American Poets, Cook, Rosenberg, and Yang, as well as students nominated by Berkeley’s creative writing faculty, Lunch Poems volunteers, and representatives from student publications.


Summer reading: My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs

My Twentieth Century Evening book cover

My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs
Kazuo Ishiguro

In his 2017 Nobel Lecture in Literature, My Twentieth Century Evening and Other Small Breakthroughs, Kazuo Ishiguro recounts his childhood when he moved in 1960 with his parents from Japan to England, where they were the only Japanese family in the town where they settled. Looking back, he is amazed that although it was less than 20 years after the end of WWII, the English community accepted them with “openness and instinctive generosity.” His identity is shaped by this openness as he ventures into his writing, where he surprisingly starts to emotionally construct his own idea of Japan.

This emotional construct, he comes to realize, is due to the importance of relationships — relationships that “move us, amuse us, anger us, surprise us” — and due to finding meaning in the “small, scruffy moments” that seemingly allow writers to be vulnerable in experiencing the unknown and the elusive and in finding meaningful exchanges through human encounters.

His hope is for us not to be complacent, but to embrace diversity, to include many voices and be open to new ideas — to listen. What starts out as his appeal to literature and writers is also an appeal to combat “dangerously increasing division,” reminding us of his first encounter in England, of openness and generosity.

This book is part of the 2017 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading list: The Handmaid’s Tale

The Handmaid's Tale book cover
The Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood

This year’s selection for On the Same Page, our campus-wide book-in-common program, is Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. This remarkable novel is at once a classic and all too contemporary in its themes and concerns. It reminds us that humankind’s darkest moments (past, present, or future) inspire the most courageous acts of resistance. Read The Handmaid’s Tale over the summer, attend Atwood’s keynote event on campus on August 23, and prepare to be inspired to create the light you want to see in the world.

Alix Schwartz
Director of Academic Planning
College of Letters & Science


Movies @ Moffitt: Mankiller

Mankiller movie poster

A film by Valerie Red-Horse Mohl

Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Doors @ 6:30pm, show @ 7:00pm
405 Moffitt Library
Free; open to UCB students only (UCB student ID required)

“This is the story of an American hero and legend, one who stands tall amongst the likes of Robert Kennedy, Harriet Tubman, and Martin Luther King, Jr. — and yet few people know her name. Wilma Mankiller is someone who humbly defied the odds to fight injustice and give a voice to the voiceless. She overcame rampant sexism and personal challenges to emerge as the Cherokee Nation’s first female Principal Chief in 1985. MANKILLER examines the legacy of the formidable Wilma Mankiller and reunites the documentary team of Gale Anne Hurd and Valerie Red-Horse Mohl for their third and most powerful film.” — Good Docs website

Watch the trailer and visit the website.


FSM Café Event: Elephant’s Dream

Elephant's Dream
ELEPHANT’S DREAM
A film by Kristof Bilsen
Followed by discussion with the director/producer
Doe Library, Room 180 UC Berkeley
Monday, April 16, 2018 6-8p.m.

Set in war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Elephant’s Dream is a breathtaking documentary that captures the daily lives of Congolese street-level civil servants in Kinshasa and Bas-Congo. Kristof Bilsen’s documentary is a long overdue testimony to the courage of the men and women who, against all odds, continue to build society and resilience.

Neglected by conventional portrayals of this vast country nested at the heart of sub-Saharan Africa, these stories reveal the complexities, ambiguities, and challenges of living in a postcolonial nation marked by widespread conflict, political crises and economic collapse. Taking Henriette, the post office counter clerk, Simon, the train station officer and Lieutenant, the chief fire fighter out of international oblivion, this documentary successfully achieves the feat of taking its viewers far beyond the habitual clichés and into the tough path of a self-reflexive voyage.

This event is free, open to the public, and all are invited to participate. For more information: contact fsmprograms@lists.berkeley.edu

Sponsored by the University Library’s Free Speech Movement (FSM) Educational Programs Committee, the UC Berkeley Department of Geography, and the UC Berkeley Center for African Studies.

The Library attempts to offer programs in accessible, barrier-free settings. If you think you may require disability-related accommodations, please contact us — ideally at least two weeks prior to the event: fsmprograms@lists.berkeley.edu, 510-768-7618.


April 5: Lunch Poems featuring Matthew Zapruder

Matthew Zapruder

Thursday, April 5
12:10 p.m. – 12:50 p.m.
Morrison Library in Doe Library
Admission Free

Matthew Zapruder is the author most recently of Sun Bear and Why Poetry, a book of prose about poetry. An Associate Professor in the MFA program at Saint Mary’s College of California, he is also Editor at Large at Wave Books, and from 2016-7 was Editor of the Poetry Column for the New York Times Magazine. He lives in Oakland, CA.


April Library Tours

Library Tours

Every Monday and Friday in April
1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

April is a month when students and families visit campus, trying to decide if Cal will be their future home. If you are are visiting campus, you are encouraged to come see the the Library.

Tours of the historic Doe Library, underground Main stacks, and newly renovated Moffitt Undergraduate Library are given every Monday and Friday in April. They start on the north steps of the Doe Library. You are encouraged to sign up using this form as space is limited.