Summer Reading: The Flick

Book cover for The FlickThe Flick
Annie Baker

Winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, this play examines the lives of three young people who work in one of the last independently owned movie theaters in New England. Each character struggles with finding their place in a world that is changing rapidly. By the end, each of them finds hope as they move on. The New York Times calls it “hilarious and touching.”

JOHN LEVINE
Lecturer
College Writing Programs

This book is part of the 2021 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: The Namesake

Book cover for The NamesakeThe Namesake
Jhumpa Lahiri

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jhumpa Lahiri’s first novel, The Namesake, speaks to how one’s character, seemingly burdened by the past, can be redefined across time, space, and culture. In this story, Gogol Ganguli, a child of Indian immigrants much like Lahiri herself, struggles to adopt an identity that satisfies both the expectations of his Bengali relatives in Calcutta and his peers in the United States. As Gogol uncovers the history behind his name, we watch him tangle with family tradition, tumble through telling love affairs, and develop a fond interest in architecture — fitting as he tries to assemble his own persona. With simple yet elegant prose rendered in page-turning fashion, Lahiri illustrates how Gogol sees and re-sees the world upon gaining clarity about his past.

ALLIE COYNE
Class of 2021
Molecular and Cell Biology major

This book is part of the 2021 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape

Book cover for TraceTrace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape
Lauret Savoy

In this collection of essays, Savoy, professor of environmental studies and geology at Mt. Holyoke College, explores the complex terrains of memory and landscape, and the ways in which the fragmented stories of our national past, and her personal past, are inscribed, lost, or found in the present. Through a wide-ranging examination of the geographies and topographies of our continent over time, she explores the paths of her ancestors, which include free and enslaved Africans, European colonizers, and Indigenous peoples, and uncovers stories of place and human presence which had been displaced or silenced. As one epigraph in the book notes, “Every landscape is an accumulation…Life must be lived amidst that which was made before.”

MARISSA FRIEDMAN (she/her/hers)
Digital Project Archivist
The Bancroft Library

This book is part of the 2021 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: Gutted

Book cover for GuttedGutted
Justin Chin

In a time when it’s difficult to grasp the passing of time, grief, and joy, I return to the legacy of a local queer poet, Justin Chin. In Gutted, his own loose variation of the Japanese zuihitsu, he assembles “diary entries, lists, quotations, observations, commentaries, fragments,” which chronicle the days after the death of his father, Chin’s own illness, and the absurdity, horror, and pleasure of everyday acts. How do we confront our past and view ourselves as raw, uncensored, honest?

KIYOKO SHIOSAKI
Undergraduate Research & Learning Librarian
UC Berkeley Library

This book is part of the 2021 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom

Book cover for Ties That BindTies That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom
Tiya Miles

Lift your eyes to the interwoven story of a Cherokee warrior and African American slave as their lives are carefully detailed in this vivid historical account. Themes of colonialism, slavery, and marginalization weave the “ties” that make up not just a part of American history (one that is not taught in our schools), but the very essence of the American fabric–a fabric which is frayed, knotted, and stained.

LISA C. PIERACCINI (she/her)
Lecturer, History of Art
Fellow, Townsend Center for the Humanities

This book is part of the 2021 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: Brown Girl Dreaming

Book cover for Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming
Jacqueline Woodson

Brown Girl Dreaming is a YA novel that tells the story of a young woman who is searching for her place in the world. In Woodson’s lyrical account, told as a series of poems, she writes of what it was like growing up during the height of the Civil Rights Movement. Moving from Ohio to South Carolina and then New York, Jacqueline confronts injustice and the realities of living in the post-Jim Crow era South. Always staying true to herself, she pursues her dreams and personal goals of becoming a writer despite the initial reservations of those around her and ultimately finds her voice through the stories and personal histories she tells.

LINDSEY LANFERSIECK
Lecturer
College Writing Programs

This book is part of the 2021 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: The Undocumented Americans

Book cover for The Undocumented AmericansThe Undocumented Americans
Karla Cornejo Villavicencio

In this remarkable book—part memoir, part journalism, part creative non-fiction—Karla Cornejo Villavicencio, herself undocumented, opens our eyes to what is right in front of us, but which we have been unable to see clearly up until now. She brings us into the lives of her family and other undocumented people in the United States, focusing not on a model-minority, soft-focus Dreamer narrative, but on the complex, real lives of undocumented people, who entrusted her with their stories, perhaps in part because of her own honesty and vulnerability. The student reviewers for the On the Same Page program were blown away by this book, and you will be, too.

ALIX SCHWARTZ
Director of Academic Planning
College of Letters & Science

This book is part of the 2021 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Call for comment: South/Southeast Asia Library

Note: The UC Berkeley Library has announced its decision to withdraw the proposal for the South/Southeast Asia Library. Read more.

This week, a call for comment issued by UC Berkeley’s University Librarian Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, College of Letters & Science’s Division of Arts & Humanities Dean Anthony Cascardi, and Division of Social Sciences Dean Raka Ray encourages anyone interested to carefully read the Library’s proposed plan for the South/Southeast Asia Library at UC Berkeley and to share comments and recommendations.

The comment period is open through Friday, April 9. We invite you to submit comments via email to libraryforum@lists.berkeley.edu.

The Library has developed a proposed vision for the South/Southeast Asia Library collections and services to be integrated with the Doe Library and Main (Gardner) Stacks in 2021.

The Commission on the Future of the UC Berkeley Library report (2013) asserted that the consolidation of campus libraries “could reduce costs, increase efficiency, and improve the quality of collection development and service delivery to both students and faculty,” and encouraged the university librarian to work with academic leaders to “identify where and how space usage can be improved for user communities and service delivery better attuned to the needs of users.” In recent years the Library has closed, merged, and re-envisioned several campus libraries in response to changing user needs, emerging programs, and campus space-planning decisions.

Read the proposed plan.


Summer reading: Od Magic

Book cover for Od MagicOd Magic
Patricia McKillip

This novel tells the story of Brenden Vetch, who is invited from his farm to a school for magical learning by a giantess named Od. The school’s operations are tightly regulated by the city, in particular by its king, who aims to control how and which magic is taught and practiced there. Brenden’s ability to develop his self identity, magical skills, and interpersonal relationships is tied up in the tension between what magic is permissible and what is not. And the story’s resolution hinges on the possibility of transforming the magic school so that its underlying exclusions are incorporated. As such, this book may be of interest to students who are eager to participate in ongoing social movements, including those that seek to recognize and change the structural limitations of the university—limitations that ultimately impede the richness of scholarly discovery.

MICHAEL DALEBOUT
PhD Candidate
Department of Rhetoric

That’s it for this year’s Summer Reading List! We’ll see you again next summer!


Summer reading: The Hidden Life of Trees

Book cover for The Hidden Life of TreesThe Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate
Peter Wohlleben

This book captures Peter Wohlleben’s approach to forestry, especially his enduring interest in identifying and tracing the interconnectedness of the disparate living beings of the Black Forest in southwest Germany. The implications of his ideas may serve students well, framing important scholarly questions, including, but not limited to, non-human consciousness, communication, memory, and time. Moreover, Wohlleben’s discussion of how non-human beings are affected by and respond to both short- and long-term ecological challenges may offer new ways to think about the transformative consequences of California wildfires, and the effects of climate change more generally.

MICHAEL DALEBOUT
PhD Candidate
Department of Rhetoric

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