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Tips for Summer Bookworms

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Tips for Summer Bookworms
Faculty Recommend 12 Favorites for Incoming Freshmen

By Tamara Keith, Public Affairs
Posted June 9, 1999

What book would Integrative Biology Professor Marian Diamond suggest for incoming freshmen's summer reading lists? "Gray's Anatomy?" A thick textbook on the human brain?

Not a chance. Instead, she's recommending a 1926 tale about "a simple little bear, not brainy at all, who is loved by all the animals in the forest."

Diamond's contribution to Berkeley's 1999 unofficial summer reading list for incoming freshmen is the 73-year-old "Winnie the Pooh," written by A.A. Milne, with illustrations by Ernest Shepard.

It appears along with 11 other books -- chosen by individual faculty members.

For 15 years, campus' Teaching Library and the Office of Student Life/Educational Development has produced Berkeley's summer reading list, which is slipped into freshman orientation packets.

"We're letting them know that people don't just read for the courses in their discipline," said Steve Tollefson, faculty development coordinator for the Office of Student Life/Educational Development, who co-produces the list with Ellen Meltzer, head of Moffitt's Teaching Library.

This year's picks are:

"Crows Over a Wheatfield"
by Paula Sharp

"It is a beautifully crafted saga of life, mental health and the way the law deals with families," said Bob Berring, professor of law and law librarian at Boalt Hall. "It is no courtroom drama. It is the story of a family and a portrait of the underground railroad that exists for women who are trying to escape abusive relationships and for whom the legal system is a failure."

"Dead Certainties: (Unwarranted Speculations)"
by Simon Schama

"After this book, you should never look at histories the same way again," said Rosemary Joyce, professor of anthropology. "But while reading this book is a pleasure, Schama has serious points to make about ambiguity, contradiction and interpretation in history."

"Sacred Hunger"
by Barry Unsworth

"Winner of the Booker Prize in the early '90s, this is ostensibly a novel, set in the 18th century, about the slave trade," said Fred Witt, professor of molecular and cell biology. "It is that, a wonderfully told tale, but it is much more, a meditation on how greed and avarice dehumanize the oppressor and the oppressed."

"Einstein's Dreams"
by Alan Lightman

"One of the most poetic and beautifully written books I have ever read, " said Bruce Birkett, a physics lecturer. "Having nothing to do with physics, this novel is rather the author's musings about Einstein's nightly dreams surrounding the nature of time."

"Guns, Germs and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies"
by Jared Diamond

"A tour de force! Answers the question of why Western European society has become dominant in the world, but not for the reasons that you may think," said Randy Katz, professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences.

"Into Thin Air"
by Jon Krakauer

"This is a gripping, eye-witness account of an ill-fated ascent of Mt. Everest, in which a number of poor decisions led to disastrous consequences during a rogue storm in May 1996. It is one of those books that's difficult to put down," said Alex Filippenko, professor of astronomy.

"Genesis & Exodus, The Bible"
Authorized King James Version

"These stories from the 'Old Testament' form the bedrock of Western moral and literary culture, shaping everything from early philosophy and science to the contemporary civil rights movement and today's American politics," said Claude Fischer, professor of sociology.

"Crooked Little Heart"
by Anne Lamott

"A delightful coming-of-age book about an adolescent girl tennis player who learns about the importance of personal honesty," said Sandy Muir, professor of political science.

by Carl Sagan

"This is a novel written by a working scientist and foremost explainer of science to the public...The topic is what may be involved in a search for extraterrestrial intelligence, SETI, and what may happen if SETI were successful," said David Cudaback, a senior lecturer emeritus of astronomy.

"Savage Inequalities"
by Jonathan Kozol

"Kozol presents a passionate portrayal of children, teachers and schools in communities that have systematically been deprived of funds for education," said Pedro Noguera, professor of education.

"Ellen Foster"
by Kaye Gibbons

"This is the story of a motherless young girl living a life that would defeat most of us. Yet Ellen manages to find her way out of pain and misery through her own belief that there is something better waiting for her," said Joanne P. Ikeda, a nutritional education specialist at Cooperative Extension and Nutritional Sciences.

"Winnie the Pooh: Complete Tales of Winnie the Pooh"
by A.A. Milne

"My goal has always been to attain elegant simplicity," said Marian Diamond, professor of integrative biology. "Today, my recommendation might be Winnie the Pooh, simple and elegant."



June 9 - July 13, 1999 (Volume 27, Number 35)
Copyright 1999, The Regents of the University of California.
Produced and maintained by the
Office of Public Affairs at UC Berkeley.
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