Summer reading: Two Weeks in November

Book cover for Two Weeks in NovemberTwo Weeks in November: The Astonishing Inside Story of the Coup That Toppled Mugabe
Douglas Rogers

Everyone who thinks the connections we form early in life will not be useful later on will revise their perspective after reading this book. In a fascinating and almost real-time narration, Douglas Rogers tells the story of how Zimbabwe’s then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa came to rely heavily on his connections to escape the country after falling out with and being fired by his mentor and boss — Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa activated his connections from his days in the Rhodesian bush war, contacts who helped him escape to Mozambique through a landmine-infested region under the cover of darkness.

But Mnangagwa’s story of becoming a fugitive overnight is just half of the story. After Mnangagwa was safely out of Zimbabwe, his connections established a command center in South Africa with a satellite center in Harare being manned by his military loyalists. These command centers worked the media, diplomacy, street protests, impeachment proceedings on Robert Mugabe, and prepared the ground for a triumphant return of their man. With ultimate precision, the plan worked. The people protested in the streets, the military drove tanks to support the mass protests, Parliament started impeachment proceedings, and before they could debate the impeachment, Mugabe resigned. Just like that, Emmerson Mnangagwa’s connections had not only kept him safe, but they had elevated their man to the highest office of the land. Rogers’ book is indeed a masterpiece that shows the power of building connections!

Class of 2020
Political economy major

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

Summer reading: The Gene

Book cover for The GeneThe Gene: an Intimate History
Siddhartha Mukherjee

There are no greater connectors between human beings, our families, our ancestors, and even our futures than genes. We all know the basic biological facts about DNA and evolution, but this book skillfully connects ancient assumptions about heritability with modern techniques of recombination to gently expand that common knowledge. Like all great works of popular science, Siddhartha Mukherjee makes you feel like you understand, in 592 pages, a subject so complex that its development has spanned (and is likely to continue to span) literally all of human history.

Class of 2020
Legal Studies major

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


Summer reading: Normal People

Book cover for Normal PeopleNormal People
Sally Rooney

Are you the same person that you were in high school? This captivating, highly nuanced work about two young adults in County Sligo, Ireland, explores how connections are made, how relationships evolve, and how they are stress-tested over time. If the “It’s Complicated” relationship setting were a novel, this would be it.

Class of 2020
Legal Studies major

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

Summer reading: Continental Divide

Book cover for Continental DivideContinental Divide
Alex Myers

Making connections is a big part of the story: The narrator/protagonist, Ron, is a Harvard student, recently out as trans, who heads out West to break his familiar connections and to establish himself (mostly to himself) as a man — to make connections with new people who will only know him as he is, without his history. There is, of course, much adventure: romance, danger, new friendships — some humbling, some exhilarating — as connections are made and as Ron learns he cannot and should not fully sever his old connections.

AP Analyst
College of Engineering

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

Summer reading: Becoming

Book cover for BecomingBecoming
Michelle Obama

This book is all about connection — Michelle Obama writes about her upbringing and how connections to her family and to her South Side Chicago neighborhood shaped her and her worldview; she writes about how her connection to her husband, Barack, changed her life and shaped it in a completely different way than she expected; and, finally, how her years in the White House connected her to America and its peoples in new and important ways (for her and for us). It’s a great read, and she’s an insightful, honest, funny, and courageous person. Five stars!

Sociology, Demography, & Quantitative Research Librarian

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

Summer reading: Exit West

Book cover for Exit WestExit West
Mohsin Hamid

What if there were secret doors connecting your country to others? What if we stopped guarding those doors? Exit West by Mohsin Hamid tells the story of two independent people, Nadia and Saeed, who make a connection in night school and fall in love. But their city descends into war, and soon they find themselves passing through one of the secret doors. Their story is about what it feels like to be uprooted and forced to “exit” your home to face the unknown. Will their connection survive in these new circumstances? Set against the backdrop of migrant lives and guided by compassionate intelligence, this beautiful novel inspires big thinking about what it means to be a global citizen. Exit West is the featured text for On the Same Page 2020: Our faculty and all new students will receive copies to read over the summer, and all are welcome to attend Hamid’s keynote address on Aug. 20, 2020.

Department of Spanish and Portuguese

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

Feb 10 – 14: Love Data Week 2020

Love Data Week 2020

Berkeleyites have loved data for a long time now.  Way back in 2000 (20 years ago is EONS in the dataverse!), the American Association for Public Opinion Research gave an award to the Berkeley creators of what became SDA, or Survey Data Analysis, an early online data tool still used today, and the best thing since sliced bread if you are a data geek. In 2010, Berkeley researchers teamed with Alice Waters from Chez Panisse, using data to show how kids make better choices about nutrition if they grow their own food.  And check out this 2014 book review from the School of Information’s Data Science program, on the book Data: A Love Story, in which an enterprising online dater applies data science to her quest and (spoiler!) finds a lasting match.

So, it’s not at all surprising that UC Berkeley has an affection connection with the annual event Love Data Week, which has been a growing worldwide phenomenon since it started in 2016.  Love Data Week (LDW) began, as the site mentions, “to raise awareness and build a community to engage on topics related to research data management, sharing, preservation, reuse, and library-based research data services.” Berkeley has always offered a range of events and chances for participation during LDW, and this year is no exception.

On Monday, there will be an “Introduction to Savio” workshop, introducing you to the campus Linux high-performance computing cluster.  On Tuesday, there will be a session on Security Incident Handling (titled, tellingly, “Not If, When: Data + Information Security”).  Wednesday brings an introduction to the venerable and vast social science data repository, ICPSR (Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research), and Thursday’s offering is a talk by Daniella Lowenberg, Product Manager for the open data publishing platform Dryad (which allows all UC Berkeley researchers to archive and publish their data).

More information about each of these sessions is available on Berkeley’s Love Data Week 2020 page; note that all UC Berkeley staff, students and faculty are welcome, and refreshments will be provided at all sessions!

As you see, there’s something for everyone, and it’s totally OK if you don’t love data— YET! As they say on the Love Data Week site, “We believe research data are the foundation of the scholarly record and crucial for advancing our knowledge of the world around us. If you care about research data, please join us!”

February 6: Art for your Apartment

Art for your Apartment

Wednesday, February 6
5:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Morrison Library

The best way to appreciate art is to live with it!

Come see and learn about the Graphic Arts Loan Collection. This is framed art prints you can bring home and hang on your wall for the school year.

Event takes place in the historic Morrison Room (housed within the Doe Library). A brief presentation will be followed by ample time to browse representative works and initiate the borrowing process.

Prints comprise a survey of movements and artists – from Impressionism to Cubism, and from Rembrandt to Miro.

December 5: Lunch Poems with Margaret Ross

Margaret RossThursday, December 5
12:10 p.m. – 12:50 p.m.
Morrison Library in Doe Library
Admission Free

Margaret Ross is the author of A Timeshare. Her poems and translations appear in The New Republic, The Paris Review, and POETRY. Her honors include a Fulbright arts grant, a VSC/Luce Chinese Poetry & Translation Fellowship, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship. She currently teaches at Stanford University where she is a Jones Lecturer.

November 7: Lunch Poems with Monica Youn

Monica YounThursday, April 4
12:10 p.m. – 12:50 p.m.
Morrison Library in Doe Library
Admission Free

Monica Youn is the author of three books of poems, most recently BLACKACRE (2016), which won the William Carlos Williams Award of the Poetry Society of America and was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Kingsley Tufts Award, and longlisted for the National Book Award. Her book IGNATZ (2010) was a finalist for the National Book Award. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, and a Stegner Fellowship, among other awards. She teaches at Princeton and in the MFA programs at NYU and Columbia. She is a former lawyer, a daughter of Korean immigrants, and a member of the curatorial collective The Racial Imaginary Institute.