Summer Reading List: The Left Hand of Darkness

The Left Hand of Darkness

The UC Berkeley Summer Reading List is an annual compilation of recommended (though not required) readings suggested by Cal faculty, staff, and students as a welcome to incoming freshmen and transfer students.

“In Ursula K. Le Guin’s award-winning classic science fiction novel of first contact on the planet Winter, it is always Year One. Le Guin, daughter of Alfred Kroeber, UCB’s first professor of anthropology, immerses her readers unapologetically in the complex world of Winter so that our experience is akin to that of the First Envoy: a human from Earth named Genly Ai, dropped into the middle of the action to make his way alone, surrounded by alien mystery and danger as he struggles to build a relationship with the enigmatic Estraven, native of Winter.

Le Guin’s writing is poetic and evocative, and as the story shifts among points of view, understanding layers itself atop further mysteries. Estraven puzzles over Genly Ai; personal history reflects cultural lore; gender and politics commingle. And when Genly and Estraven huddle together in a tiny tent atop an enormous ice floe before making their final dash for freedom – we, too, are swept away to a new world in joy and heartbreak.”

– CAROLYN HILL Lecturer, College Writing Programs

Post contributed by:
Michael Larkin Lecturer, College Writing Programs
Tim Dilworth First Year Coordinator, Library