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!

ANN GLUSKER
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.

ESTELLE TARICA
Professor
Department of Spanish and Portuguese

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


Summer reading: The Towers of Trebizond

Book cover for The Towers of Trebizond
The Towers of Trebizond
Rose Macaulay

The main character, Laurie; her plump, adventuresome, intellectual Aunt Dot; her somewhat objectionable Anglican Father Hugh Chantry-Pigg; and a white Ruwallah camel embark from England on a missionary reconnaissance–or an Anglican spying expedition, as Laurie comically refers to it–to the unconverted peoples of the Black Sea region. (Part of Aunt Dot’s purpose in going is that of “…sizing up the situation and the possibilities, and telling women about the Anglican Church…and about what a good time Christian women had, wearing hats and talking to men, not having to carry the loads, and being free to go about and have fun like men, and sometimes ride donkeys instead of walking.”)

As Laurie narrates their travels through Turkey and Syria, intertwined are her observations of the peculiar ways of organized religion and her musings on her own spirituality. Adding to the truly great appeal found in the language and witty voice of the book, Laurie’s and the other characters’ vast classical knowledge of literary and ancient history also shines through all their adventures.

JEAN DICKINSON
Slavic & E. European Cataloging Librarian

That’s it for the 2019 Summer Reading List! See you next summer!


Summer reading: Miles: The Autobiography

Book cover for Miles: The Autobiography
Miles: The Autobiography
Miles Davis with Quincy Troupe

Music majors might want to read this book, which I consider to be the best book on jazz history despite it being an autobiography.

Miles Davis was one of the towering figures in popular music of the 20th century. From a middle class family in East St. Louis, his father sent him to NYC to study music at Juilliard. He dropped out, bored out of his mind, and decided to chase his hero Charlie Parker around town to learn the latest Bebop craze. That act of defiance gave birth to a legendary career and gave us some of the best jazz recordings in history.

Davis always managed to stay on top of the many shifts in the music industry and rarely rested on his laurels. His legendary temper, his women, and his fleet of Ferraris are only side notes to a grand career that spanned almost fifty years. Kind Of Blue, the album that made him world famous, is the best testimony of a man who knew how to incorporate materials from different worlds and create classic American music.

ALVARO LÓPEZ-PIEDRA
Library Assistant III/Receiving Specialist (Spanish/Italian/French/Portuguese/Catalan Collections)
Ordering & Monographs Receiving Unit

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: Angle of Repose

Book cover for angle of repose
Angle of Repose
Wallace Stegner

Stegner’s novel, one of my all-time favorites, is relevant to the “Between Worlds” theme because, while it is set in the recent modern day, the main character, a history professor at UC Berkeley, is writing a book about his grandparents’ westward migration along the American frontier, where they often must reconcile civilized east and wild west. I read this during my junior year as an undergraduate and did not want it to end.

SARA QUIGLEY
Senior Data Visualization Analyst
Office of Planning and Analysis

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!

 


Summer reading: The 57 Bus

Book cover for The 57 Bus
The 57 Bus: A true story of two teenagers and the crime that changed their lives
Dashka Slater

This gripping read explores the different worlds of race, gender, class, and privilege and how they explosively collide on a bus traveling from Berkeley to Oakland.

SUSAN EDWARDS
Head, Social Sciences Division & Social Welfare Librarian
Social Research Library

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt

Book cover for The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt
The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth
Ken Krimstein

A brilliant and deeply moving graphic memoir about the life and thoughts of the philosopher Hannah Arendt—who by fate was forced reinvent her life several times—surviving harrowing escapes from country to country: from Germany and France and to the United States. Krimstein explains Arendt’s ideas with clarity and wit, and those ideas still resonate. That alone is quite a feat! This is a story of a life as relevant now as it was then.

KAREN MØLLER
Senior Lecturer
Scandinavian Languages Coordinator
Department of Scandinavian

 

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: Don’t Sleep, There are Snakes

Book cover for Don't Sleep There Are Snakes
Don’t Sleep, There are Snakes: Life and Language in the Amazonian Jungle
Daniel Everett

His original goal was to learn the Piraha language to translate the Bible in order to convert them; however, by the end of his long sojourn in the Amazon, Daniel Everett found himself not only with a new understanding of language but also with a different view of life and spirituality which, ultimately, brought him to abandon his faith.

The book has three different currents running through it and mixing through the pages. It’s a memoir describing the events in the author’s life–his struggles both practical, due to living in minimalist environment with his family, but also, increasingly as time goes by, emotional and spiritual as he starts to question beliefs he had long held. It’s an anthropological study reporting the habits, beliefs, and culture of a isolated, very small community of natives in the Amazon. And it’s a study on a language that defies the linguistic theories that Everett knew and which put him on a collision course with his MIT colleague Noam Chomsky.

GIULIA HILL
Programmer Analyst
UC Berkeley Library


Summer reading: Dhalgren

Book cover for Dhalgren
Dhalgren
Samuel R. Delany

A young man, “the Kid,” walks into the perpetually burning city of Bellona somewhere in middle America in the not so distant future–or is it the past, or an alternative present? An epic, oneiric tale that explores race, sexuality, gender, and class, written by the one of science fiction’s most famous authors.

DEAN SMITH
Library Assistant IV
Bancroft Public Services

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!


Summer reading: The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Book cover of The Reluctant Fundamentalist
The Reluctant Fundamentalist
Mohsin Hamid

Moshid’s fascinating and insightful 2007 novel narrates the complex reaction of a Princeton-educated Pakistani to the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center.

LISA GOLDBERG
Adjunct Professor of Economics and Statistics
Co-Director, Consortium for Data Analytics in Risk

This book is part of the 2019 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!