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Entering freshmen wonder: I've got homework already?
Chill, dudes. Summer Reading List titles are, like, optional

03 June 2005

Each spring, the upcoming fall's entering freshmen are sent a copy of the unofficial UC Berkeley Summer Reading List, filled with recommendations of books they might enjoy reading that have been offered by members of the campus community. Each recommender includes a short commentary on the book he or she has selected.

"The books are really something that those recommending them enjoyed and think other people should read," said Steve Tollefson, a lecturer in the College Writing Programs and faculty development coordinator in the Office of the Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education. Tollefson helps assemble the annual reading list.

The list is always organized around a central theme. This year's list, under the heading "Great Discoveries, Voyages, and Adventures," includes:

Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe (Norton Critical Edition,1994)

Pompeii: A Novel, by Robert Harris (2003)

Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, by Jared Diamond (2005)

Voyage of the Beagle, by Charles Darwin (1909)

Gertrude Bell: The Arabian Diaries, 1913-1914, edited by Rosemary O'Brien, with photographs by Gertrude Bell (2000)

The Armada, by Garrett Mattingly (1959)

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex, by Nathaniel Philbrick (2000)

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, by Mary Roach (2003)

The Informant: A True Story, by Kurt Eichenwald (2000)

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze, by Peter Hessler (2002)

The Endurance: Shackleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition, by Caroline Alexander (1998)

The Gene Hunters: Biotechnology and the Scramble for Seeds, by Calestous Juma (1989)

The 2005 Summer Reading List, with commentary from those recommending each book, is online at www.lib.berkeley.edu/Instruction/readinglists/2005.html. The reading-list project is co-sponsored by the Teaching Library, the Office of the Assistant Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, and the College Writing Programs.