Welcome to Berkeley.
We here at Cal have a little gift for you.
year, we ask UC Berkeley faculty and staff to recommend the best books
they’ve read about a particular subject, and then we send those
recommendations along to incoming freshmen. Included here are this
year’s picks. It’s not required reading—you may read all of the books
here, one of them, or none of them; there will be no test. Instead,
this is a list of books that have inspired, provoked, moved, or
entertained us in some way, books that we’ve felt compelled to press
into the hands of others. And now, as one way of welcoming you to the
intellectual life of the university, these faculty and staff members
are pressing some of their favorites into your hands.
This year’s theme is “Education Matters.” In this uneasy period for public education, rife with budget cuts, fee
increases, and struggling schools, both in California and across the
country, it seemed to us a good time to examine stories about and
issues in education. After all, we here at Berkeley have chosen to work
in higher education, and those of you about to join us have decided to
pursue your bachelor’s degrees, so while all of us will spend much of
our time concerning ourselves with what we’re doing and how we’re going
to do it, it also seems worth thinking about why we’re doing it. The
following series of recommended books—memoirs, biographies, arguments,
poetry, fiction, and one blog—form a compelling collection that can
help us get at this question. We suspect that more than one of them
will appeal to you.
be able to find these books in one of Berkeley’s many on-campus
So again, welcome to Cal, enjoy the reading, and Go Bears!
Head, Instructional Services
Lecturer, College Writing Programs
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
New York: Ballantine Books, 1965
A complete education on three fronts: the streets, the slammer, and
politics. This book really opened my eyes to hidden facts about the
U.S. and how we treat people of color. But beyond that I learned about
how a man can evolve from ignorance to sophistication without ever
stepping inside a classroom. Thanks to Haley’s book I took it upon
myself to master the dictionary as much as possible, starting with
“that little Aardvark” as Malcolm so eloquently put it. Highly
recommended for incoming or outgoing students.
Library Assistant, Monographic Receiving Unit
Lopez-Piedra works in the Technical Services Unit at Moffitt Library.
His responsibilities include processing Italian, Spanish, Portuguese,
and Catalan book shipments, communicating with vendors and book
selectors, and occasionally helping in the mail room. In his spare time
his face is buried in a book or in his music collection.
Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher’s First Year
Esmé Raji Codell
Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2001
This is an inspiring book following Codell’s first year of teaching as
a 24-year-old in a new public school in Chicago. She includes funny and
heart-rending stories of her struggles to teach troubled students with
sometimes wacky approaches, while simultaneously contending with an
undermining school principal, gang members, and abusive parents as
well. All of it is told in her distinctive voice. Hard to put down.
Hard to forget.
Department of Economics
A recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award, Martha Olney has taught Economics at Cal since 1992.
Three Cups of Tea
New York: Viking, 2006
This is a fascinating account of a Berkeley RN/mountain climber in the
Himalayas who became close to the villagers who saved his life, and
decided to build a school for their children. The project faced many
obstacles, but he and they prevailed, and he went on to build many
schools in rural Pakistan. The Taliban and conservative forces tried to
limit the schools to boys only, but the author and his Pakistani allies
insisted that girls be allowed to attend on an equal basis with boys.
These schools help Pakistanis see another side of Americans, and win
hearts and minds away from terrorism.
Nancy K. D. Lemon
UC Berkeley School of Law
K.D. Lemon teaches courses in Domestic Violence Law, both at Boalt Law
School and in the Legal Studies Program (for undergraduates). Her
graduate students come from public policy, sociology, social welfare,
and ethnic studies, as well as law.
No Right to Remain Silent: The Tragedy at Virginia Tech
New York: Harmony Books, 2009
As Chair of the English Department, Roy provided Seung-Hui Cho with a
tutorial in poetry after he was removed from a class for his
threatening behavior. Cho later killed 32 people and wounded many
others in an on-campus attack, and then killed himself. This book
provides a close look at Cho from Roy’s perspective, but more
important, she examines how Virginia Tech handled—and in some instances
mishandled—information about Cho’s disabilities, its release of
information to the public, and its response to the killings. Roy looks
closely at issues of free speech, administrative red tape, and the
relationship between “town and gown.” Many of the security measures now
in place at UCB and other universities resulted from this tragic event
in 2007. Not intended to scare, this book is a close examination of
College Writing Programs
Jane Hammons is a recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award and teaches upper and lower division courses in writing for CWP.
Her writing can be found in The San Francisco Chronicle Magazine,
Columbia Journalism Review and literary magazines such as Alaska
Quarterly Review, Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, and
Southwestern American Literature.
Winning the Dust Bowl
Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2001
EVERYONE should read this memoir. Coming from the American heartland,
Revard tells a classic story of his success rising from humble
beginnings as a mixed-race kid growing up during trying economic times.
He recounts his story with a mix of pictures and stories of his family,
as well as with exemplary poems and prose. Yet it goes beyond that—it’s
a subtle text on how to write poetry; it’s also the story of how we
become who we are, what shapes us and speaks to us as human beings, and
what we all share. This is a true gem of a book. If you read it, you
will never forget it.
John D. Berry
Comparative Ethnic Studies and Native American Studies Collections specialist
Ethnic Studies Library
Berry is of Choctaw/Cherokee/Scots-Irish/German heritage, an Oklahoma
native, and a traditional stomp dancer. He is listed on the Native
American Authors pages of the Internet Public Library, and has
published poems both in print and on the web.
Our Schools Suck: Students Talk Back to a Segregated Nation on the Failures of Urban Education
Gaston Alonso, Noel Anderson, Celina Su, Jeanne Theoharis
New York: New York University Press, 2009
The authors of this book examine the reality in which many students
find themselves: confined to over-crowded, under-funded, segregated
public schools. With fine-grained analysis and unflinching honesty, the
authors challenge the prevailing idea that students and their “bad
values” are to blame for the state of public education and, instead,
hold responsible those who sustain structural inequalities and who
perpetuate assumptions that criminalize and stereotype urban youth.
Seamlessly woven throughout the text are the voices of students who
“talk back” to those in power, critique their learning environments,
and demonstrate their power as critical social actors. A terrific,
Student Learning Center
Giulianetti loves working with students as they develop as writers. She
is interested in composition studies and 20th century American
literature, especially African American literature. She has taught
seminars for writing tutors and composition courses, most recently in
African American Studies.
Why School? Reclaiming Education for All of Us
New York: New Press, 2009
This short, compelling text takes the readers inside schools to see how
the current, narrow focus on standardized assessment has “shrunk” the
definition of education. (See also Rose's entry “Why I Wrote ‘Why
School?’” posted on the author’s blog.) Rose brings us inside classrooms
to offer illustrations of a broader definition that includes
“curiosity, reflectiveness, imagination, or a willingness to take a
chance, to blunder.” In a highly competitive environment like UC
Berkeley, it is easy to let numbers drive teaching and learning and
admissions. Rose’s little book asks us to reconsider the meaning of
education in a democratic society: it’s about developing skills and
being prepared for work, yes, but it’s about much more than that. And
he asks us to put the question of “Why School?” at the center of the
College Writing Programs
Wald teaches courses in the College Writing Programs and is Director of
the Summer English Language Institute. In addition to her ten years at
UC Berkeley, she has taught in ESL and writing
programs in Texas, Tennessee, Illinois, and abroad. Her research
focuses on instruction in grammar and vocabulary and on academic
literacy development among immigrant ESL students.
Mike Rose’s Blog
Mike Rose, Professor of Social Research Methodology at UCLA, has
written about education for years. As a nice complement to and
extension of his recent book (see above), his relatively new blog
offers timely entries with postings related to topics such as “the
purpose of schooling in a democracy,” “education policy,” “race to the
top,” “University of California Budget Cuts,” and “Obama and
College Writing Programs
Erickson teaches undergraduate writing courses and graduate pedagogy
seminars at Berkeley and works with teachers of English internationally.
Five Stages of Greek Religion
Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1955
As an undergrad at UC San Diego, I was introduced to this book during
discussions with members of the Philosophy Department there. The book
is based on a series of lectures Murray gave at Columbia University in
1912 in which he traces the development of Greek religion through its
early worship of Olympian gods, to Homeric epics, to the development of
different schools of philosophy that pre-dated Christianity. Passages
from this wonderful book have accompanied me through all the twists and
turns of a lifelong devotion to learning and education.
Librarian for the Judaica Collection
librarian for the Judaica Collection, Paul Hamburg has developed a keen
facility with Hebrew and Yiddish language databases, which he shares
with interested faculty and students. His research interests include
the History of the Hebrew Book and the Music composed in the Terezin
Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia during the Holocaust.
The Education of Henry Adams
New York: Oxford University Press, 2008
The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
Philadelphia: PENN/University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005
Coming of Age in Mississippi
New York: Dell, 1976
Down These Mean Streets
New York: Vintage Books, 1997
A Midwife’s Tale: The Life of Martha Ballard, based on her diary, 1785-1813
Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
New York: Vintage Books, 1991
Up From Slavery
Booker T. Washington
New York: Modern Library, 1999
New York: Persea Books, 2003
When many people think of education they think of schools. I do as
well. But I also think of learning, and I know that learning in its
most profound forms often takes place far beyond schoolhouse walls:
within families, homes, communities, and nature; at work and play; and
in struggle. I recommend students read several of the books listed above and consider what learning is, where it takes place
and under what conditions. I hope they will come away from their
readings, as I have, with more expansive understandings of education,
learning, and life.
Graduate School of Education
former public high school teacher, Ingrid Seyer-Ochi is an
anthropologist and historian of education whose research and teaching
interests focus on urban education, the history of education, and
diversity and inequality in schooling. Her most recent project is an
ethnographic study of learning opportunities in three of Oakland’s most
diverse and integrated neighborhoods. Her book, Smart on the Under:
Excavating Opportunity in Urban America, is forthcoming.
UC Berkeley Summer Reading Lists
2010 by the Library, University of California, Berkeley.
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