Summer reading: Brain on Fire

Brain on Fire book cover

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
Susannah Cahalan

At the age of 24, Susannah Cahalan was coming into her own: living in New York City, in a serious relationship, and beginning her career as a journalist for a major newspaper. Just as things felt like they were coming together, everything fell apart when she woke up in the hospital, confused and unsure of who she was. There is a level of vulnerability in this book that is unwavering and brave as Cahalan recalls the month that she fought to convince doctors, loved ones, and herself that she was not lost.

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


Summer reading: All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See book cover

All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr

In his novel, Doerr artfully weaves together the stories of blind French girl and a precocious Nazi boy who meet in St. Malo, France as the town is being bombed by the Allies shortly after D-Day. The book reminds us how courage, imagination, and resourcefulness can enable us to transcend our limitations.

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


Summer reading: Born a Crime

Born a crime book cover

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
Trevor Noah

In the age of South African apartheid, Trevor Noah’s mom is the heroine who is able to raise a smart, funny, and thoughtful human being who, as an adult, has gone on to fight racism with dignity and humor. Noah’s mother, through all of their many trying times, was the light and inspiration who allowed Trevor the ability to learn from their hardships. Through the confines of racism and violence, this is a tale of how survival can happen with love, humor, and dignity. At the end of it all, there continues to be light, inspiration, discovery and hope in our humanity!

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


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!


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!


2018 Pulitzer Prize: Get Ready to Read!

Read 2018 Pulitzer Prize winners at the library

The 2018 Pulitzer Prize awards have been announced, and we at the Library have the books ready for your reading pleasure. With this year’s literary winners, hear about a failed novelist’s world-spanning quest, a dialogue about human connection, and a lyrical exploration of the human voice and body:

And, of course, the finalists provide wonderful reads:

Check out the Pulitzer Prize Website for more winners, and happy reading!



Primary Sources: Presidential Recordings Digital Edition

The Library has acquired Presidential Recordings Digital Edition, an online portal for annotated transcripts of telephone conversations of Presidents Johnson, Kennedy, and Nixon. Recordings and transcripts are presented together. The transcripts are searchable and browseable by administration, series, speaker, date, place, and duration.

 


Mindfulness & Meditation @ Moffitt

Meditation

Overcome insomnia & stress.  Focus the mind. Foster creativity, resiliency & well-being. No previous experience required.

  • Open to students, staff, and faculty in the Cal community (UCB ID required to enter Moffitt Library)
  • Dress comfortably & avoid eating immediately before session
  • Participants will benefit most from regular practice

5th Floor Moffitt in the Wellness RoomThis event is free, open to the public, and all are invited to participate. Sponsored by the University Library and the Tang Center. For more information: contact Gisele Tanasse at gtanasse@library.berkeley.edu

Jeff OxendineMindfulness Mondays
12:30pm-1:30pm
Jeffrey Oxendine
School of Public Health
As the Executive Director of the Center for Public Health Practice & Leadership, Jeff is passionate about empowering students in their studies and future careers through mindfulness.

 

Amelia BariliMeditation Wednesdays
3pm-4pm
Amelia Barili
Department of Spanish & Portuguese
An internationally respected yoga teacher, Amelia has a diploma in Yoga Therapy & Philosophy from Kaivalyadhama Yoga institute and uses meditation techniques in her classes to help students to overcome stress and foster creativity.

 

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: jean.ferguson@berkeley.edu.