New Catalan literature

Here’s a selection of Catalan literature titles hot of the press with some not even on the library shelves quite yet. Prizewinners include Maria Barbal, Maite Salord, Anna Gas Serra, Xavier Mas Craviotto, and Laia Viñas. Reviews for all can be read on the open access journal Càracters published by the Universitàt de Valencia.

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librarian icon  And don’t forget to check out the Catalan Studies research guide.


Summer reading: Year of Wonders

Book cover for year of wondersYear of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague
Geraldine Brooks

In 1665, a tailor in the village of Eyam, in England, opened a bundle of cloth from London. It had fleas, and they carried bubonic plague, and soon the villagers were dying. The village made an unusual decision—they quarantined, to prevent the spread of the disease outside their borders, and they rode out the plague in isolation from the outside world. This true story is related in wrenching and beautiful fictionalized detail by Geraldine Brooks, in her book Year of Wonders (which, incidentally, is on the American Library Association’s list of the top 100 banned books in the United States).

In the novel, we meet 18-year-old widow Anna Frith, a servant to the local church rector. Anna soon loses her two sons to the plague, and is drawn into the center of the community’s life in isolation as she cares for the sick and dying alongside the rector’s wife. The village turns in on itself, and Brooks explores the ways in which this plays out for good and evil, with sensitive and compelling detail about rural life and relationships in 17th century England. She also makes sure we root for Anna, who questions everything she has been taught to think about religion and nature, and who blossoms into a woman of strength and substance.

The parallels to today’s world and how it has faced COVID are clear, and many articles (such as this article from The Guardian) connecting Eyam’s experience to COVID can be found online. In each case, the role of community is central—to how we weather storms, and how we heal after loss.

ANN GLUSKER
Sociology, Demography, & Quantitative Research Librarian
Doe Library

This book is part of the 2022 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


2022 LGBTQ+ Literature for Pride Month

June is Pride month, a time for celebrating the struggles and achievements of the LGBTQ+ community. Browse through the Library’s collection on OverDrive of LGBTQ+ literature as one of many ways to celebrate the inspiring journeys of the queer community.



Summer reading: How Starbucks Saved My Life

Book cover for how starbucks saved my lifeHow Starbucks Saved My Life
Michael Gates Gill

Don’t be fooled by its joking title. How Starbucks Changed My Life is an engaging memoir from Michael Gates Gill, the son of famed New Yorker writer Brendan Gill, who grew up in a mansion of 30-plus rooms, and who encountered many of the glamourous people and literati of his time in his youth: e.g., Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemingway, Jackie Kennedy. He eventually became an artistic director at the J. Walter Thompson Advertising Agency. He had a good career there until it was deemed that, in his mid-60’s, he was too old and was fired. Divorced, diagnosed with a brain tumor, he ended up living in an attic apartment, desperate for employment that offered health insurance. By pure coincidence, he was hired at a Starbucks located in a “bad” part of town.

He progressed from cleaning the bathroom to becoming a barista, along the way learning to respect, and befriend, youth from a lower-income social strata that he normally would have crossed the street to avoid during his time as an advertising executive. One of these young people was a fierce-looking ex-gang member who protected Gill one night when he was threatened by a customer who refused to leave at closing and pulled out a knife. After working at Starbucks, Gill would conclude that he preferred the company of the staff there to the corporate executives he used to interact with while at J. Walter Thompson. This is a compelling, enlightening narrative about How a Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else that puts a human face, and experience, to what is essentially a scathing critique of socio-economic class differences.

MIKE PALMER
Enrollment Manager
College Writing Programs

This book is part of the 2022 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Orienting Os Lusíadas @ 450

Lusíadas collage

This online bibliography brings together resources and scholarship to mark the 450th anniversary of the publication of The Lusiads (Os Lusíadas), the magnum opus of Luís Vaz de Camões (c. 1524/5–1580), an epic that “sings” the story of Portugal’s colonial expansion. Long revered as the most important work in the Portuguese language, it draws inspiration from Greco-Roman epics such as Virgil’s Aeneid and Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey as well as Persian and Hindu mythology. The ten cantos which structure the long narrative poem are in ottava rima and total 1,102 stanzas.

The Lusiads form a key pillar of an entire mythos constructed around nostalgia for the empire, though one that has received increasing critical attention in scholarly and political circles alike. Anthony Soares, for example, highlights the material and bodily violences that lie behind discursive elements of the text’s poetic cantos. Other scholars have traced the Persian and Indian lyric influences in the text (notably Hāfiz and Omar Khayyam), interpreting the national epic against itself. Some have even identified critiques of Empire, as well as satirical treatments of etymologies and ancestral pretenses, within the text itself, calling into question the poet’s own consent for his work to be interpreted as the uncritical pro-imperialist national epic, par excellence. As 2022 marks the 450th anniversary of its publication, new scholarship (see Camões at Harvard: Navigating 450 years of Os Lusíadas) will continue to critically resituate The Lusiads both in its historical moment and in Portuguese and global literature today.

We hope you make use of this bibliography which highlights resources in UC Berkeley’s distinguished Portuguese collection but also which provides access to open and freely available sources online.

Cameron Flynn
Ph.D. student, Romance Languages and Literatures

Claude Potts
Librarian for Romance Languages Collections


Summer reading: all about love: new visions

Book cover for all about loveall about love: new visions
bell hooks

All About Love offers radical new ways to think about love by showing its interconnectedness in our private and public lives. In eleven concise chapters, hooks explains how our everyday notions of what it means to give and receive love often fail us, and how these ideals are established in early childhood. She offers a rethinking of self-love (without narcissism) that will bring peace and compassion to our personal and professional lives, and asserts the place of love to end struggles between individuals, in communities, and among societies. Moving from the cultural to the intimate, hooks notes the ties between love and loss and challenges the prevailing notion that romantic love is the most important love of all.

CAROLINE M. WILLIAMS
Associate Professor, Evolutionary Physiology
Department of Integrative Biology

This book is part of the 2022 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: Gordo

Book cover for GordoGordo: Stories
Jaime Cortez

Gordo is a collection of short stories which intimately describe the world of a migrant workers camp near Watsonville, California in the 1970s. Through his memorable cast of characters, Cortez explores the complexities of growing up Mexican American in California with humor and with a deep sincerity. The book confronts the difficulties of simultaneously belonging and not belonging in this country, a relatable experience that radiates far beyond Watsonville, California.

CHRISTINA VELAZQUEZ FIDLER
Digital Archivist
The Bancroft Library

This book is part of the 2022 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: Interior Chinatown

Book cover for Interior ChinatownInterior Chinatown
Charles Yu

In this genre-bending book, all the world’s a stage, and all the people merely players. Some have named, starring roles. Others are limited to non-speaking background roles such as Ethnic Recurring, Generic Asian Man Number Three, and Delivery Guy. Such are the roles available to our protagonist, Willis Wu, whose highest aspiration is to become Kung Fu Guy. By the end of the book, Willis comes to recognize the invisible, historical forces circumscribing his world, and struggles with what it would mean to break free and go off-script—and invites us to do the same. One of our student reviewers for the 2022 On the Same Page program praised Interior Chinatown for its “unique and compelling examination of Asian-American identity and media representation.” Another student reviewer described the book as “storytelling like I have never seen or read before.” Exploring an American history of immigration, marginalization, assimilation, racism, and mass media, Interior Chinatown asks, “Who gets to be an American? What does an American look like?”

AILEEN LIU
Director of Curricular Engagement Initiatives
College of Letters & Science

This book is part of the 2022 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Our Picks for Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month

May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month! Join us in celebrating through works of literature the diverse histories and cultures of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Americans who have shaped the history of the United States.

Browse more highlights in OverDrive.



Read at Home: New in OverDrive

OverDrive is a UC Berkeley Library service for borrowing ebooks and audiobooks. You can access books online, download them to a device, or read them on an ereader such as Kindle. OverDrive is available to current UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff. How it works: Simply log in with your CalNet ID, and you can start borrowing!

You can also download the Libby by OverDrive app to access OverDrive from your mobile device. For more information, visit the OverDrive help guide.

Check out some of the new arrivals here: