Summer reading: How to Be Both

Book cover for how to be bothHow To Be Both
Ali Smith

The book has two halves — one about Francesco del Cossa, an Italian Renaissance artist, and one about George, a contemporary British teenager who is coping with the recent death of her mother — and they are related in surprising and intriguing ways. George and Francesco both think about uses for new technologies, the ways that images shape our ideas of the world, and what it means to be entertained. George is one of the great young adult characters of the past few years and worth reading on her own. But the deeper story is her imaginative relationship with Francesco del Cossa, who makes us wonder whether some very contemporary questions aren’t, in fact, very old. Another fun fact: The novel was published in two versions, with Francesco’s story appearing first in some and George’s in others.

PhD candidate
Comparative Literature

This book is part of the 2020 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!