Summer reading: The Righteous Mind

Book cover for The Righteous MindThe Righteous Mind
Jonathan Haidt

This book explores the implications of moral philosophy for political polarization. A lot of what we disagree about can be boiled down to six foundations of moral value. Different political perspectives correlate with different moral foundations. If we don’t understand one another’s values, we wind up polarized. But the real reason this is a must-read is that it demonstrates how we base our moral judgements on emotional reaction rather than information and thought. All of us.

DANIEL ACLAND
Associate Professor of Practice
Goldman School of Public Policy

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


Summer reading: This is How You Lose the Time War

Book cover for this is how you lose the time warThis is How You Lose the Time War
Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone

This book weaves a brilliant tale of spies on opposite sides of a multidimensional time war, waged primarily by two agents: “Blue,” whose society focuses on nature and natural elements, and “Red,” whose technofuturist society will have its victory no matter the cost. As they travel through time, Blue and Red thwart one another at every turn on behalf of worlds hellbent on their assimilation and unquestioning compliance. But as they say, love knows no bounds — and their connection defies all constraints, real and imagined. Excitingly paced, and with lush, lyrical prose, this book is a must-read for fans of speculative fiction, romance, and character-driven stories featuring queer characters of color.

JENNIFER BROWN
Undergraduate Learning and Research Librarian
Doe Library

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


Summer Reading: How to be an Antiracist

Book cover for How to be an Anticracist How to be an Antiracist
Ibram X. Kendi

Ibram X. Kendi narrates his own path of liberation leading to the creation of the Antiracist Research & Policy Center and his unapologetic engagement with its mission. He weaves beautiful lessons, dispels many myths, and challenges prevalent misconceptions through poignant personal stories. This book is both autobiography and magnificent scholarly work. Most importantly, the pages of this book leave one with a personal sense of possibility and responsibility.

GUSTAVO VALBUENA
Head, Problem-Based Learning Curriculum
UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program

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


Summer reading: Campus Diversity

Book cover for Campus DiversityCampus Diversity: The Hidden Consensus
John M. Carey, Katie Clayton, & Yusaku Horiuchi

This book is authored by two political science luminaries, John Carey and Yusaku Horiuchi of Dartmouth, as well as one of their students who was an undergraduate herself at the time of the writing, Katie Clayton.

I can’t imagine a work of nonfiction that better addresses the theme of this year’s Summer Reading List. Campus Diversity focuses on one of the central social, political, and legal issues confronting universities: whether and how race, ethnicity, gender, and socioeconomic status should be considered in college admissions and in faculty recruitment. It takes seriously what students think about an issue on which they have direct, recent experience. It acknowledges head-on the challenges students may face in openly expressing opinions about diversity, and it shows how scholars can measure attitudes even on hot-button issues. It further shows how the academic research process can unfold, identifying a puzzle, applying an innovative method to get traction on it, and presenting results graphically, in an accessible manner that requires no prior familiarity with statistical methods. It provides historical background on demographic diversity at American universities and current context on legal and political challenges to affirmative action.

Nothing could be more timely, and the book is a model of engaging, accessible social science. Perhaps most importantly, given this year’s theme, the book unearths hidden connections among students and opens the way for more open and fruitful dialogue. I think incoming students would enjoy it and profit enormously from reading it.

M. STEVEN FISH
Professor
Political Science Department

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


Summer reading: An Unnecessary Woman

Book cover for An Unecessary WomanAn Unnecessary Woman
Rabih Alameddin

In An Unnecessary Woman, Rabih Alameddine connects the reader with an isolated, brilliant, unconventional woman living in Beirut. Her life is peopled with the characters of her beloved books, and each year — for her own pleasure — she translates one of them into Arabic. An Unnecessary Woman transports the reader to Lebanon, through great works of literature, and into the life and mind of a remarkable woman. And, as Rabih Alameddine states, the novel questions how we balance an inner life with an outer life — and how important is each?

SUSAN EDWARDS
Head, Social Sciences Division
Social Welfare Librarian & Interim African Studies Librarian

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


Summer reading: Where the Crawdads Sing

Book cover for Where the Crawdads SingWhere the Crawdads Sing
Delia Owens

I just finished reading Where the Crawdads Sing and thought it was excellent. It tells the story of a girl who is abandoned by her family at a young age. The novel traces her struggle to survive and her eternal longing for connection. Sadly, she is rejected by nearly all the people she comes in contact with and is treated as a “feral child.” The storytelling is superb, and the author creates a beautiful world in the marshlands where it takes place.

PETER VAHLE
Lecturer
College Writing Programs

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


Summer reading: All the Light We Cannot See

Book cover for all the light we cannot seeAll the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr

This novel is set during World War II, tracking the lives of a French girl and a German boy. While these two characters are initially separate and unbeknownst to each other, the summit of the novel arrives when their lives intertwine as they struggle to survive the war. Anthony Doerr creates a beautiful collision of two worlds in the most detailed and unexpected of ways, providing readers with a story of light set amidst a time period riddled with darkness.

KAILEE GIFFORD
Class of 2021
English major

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


Summer reading: Meadowlark

Book cover for the meadowlarkMeadowlark
Melanie Abrams

UC Berkeley faculty member Melanie Abrams’ fantastic new novel, Meadowlark, follows Simone, a photojournalist, who escapes a strict spiritual compound as a teenager and later reconnects with the childhood friend, Aaron, she escaped with. Aaron is now the charismatic leader of a commune, Meadowlark, which holds some disturbing beliefs concerning children and their “gifts.” Despite her reservations, Simone agrees to come document Meadowlark’s story but arrives only to realize the commune is in the midst of a tense criminal investigation. A gripping novel about the sometimes inexplicable pull of connection and what it means to see and be seen.

ELISE PROULX
Director of Marketing & Partnerships
Greater Good Science Center

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


Summer reading: Sula

Book cover for SulaSula
Toni Morrison

Childhood friendships are often the stuff of deep, organic, unspoken connection. Toni Morrison’s second novel, Sula (1973), traces the friendship between the title character and her friend Nel, girls who, during their childhoods in the Bottom, a segregated black neighborhood in Medallion, Ohio, were “two throats and one eye,” yet whose connection is ultimately fractured. Although they come from starkly contrasting families, Sula and Nel forge an abiding friendship and emotional connection, solidified by their holding the secret of an accidental death.

Morrison traces the path of Sula and Nel’s relationship over decades — through a deep rupture, a partial reconciliation, and the realization of how loss of connection can devastate and create “circles and circles of sorrow.” The novel challenges us to consider female friendships: their power and possibilities; how forces such as patriarchy, economics, family, and race structure and (re)strain such connections; and the price women pay for the choices they make and the agency they exercise.

LUISA GIULIANETTI
Curriculum Coordinator
Centers for Educational Equity and Excellence, CE3

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


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!

BRIAN TAFADZWA MAROMBEDZA
Class of 2020
Political economy major

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