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Berkeley Book List books

The Berkeley Book List: hot off the virtual press

03 December 2003

Read any good books lately? On books.berkeley.edu, a website launching later this week, 14 faculty members (and one chancellor) go well beyond answering the bookworm’s favorite question with a simple affirmation. Because of their generous responses, many rewards await passionate readers who like to branch out into new realms.

The brainchild of Jeffery Kahn, manager for the campus’s home page Gateway and NewsCenter websites, the Berkeley Book List is a partnership between the College of Letters and Science and the Office of Public Affairs. The list is intended to be published annually, extending the academic reach of the university and its faculty experts to an wide audience of readers.

Dean of Arts and Humanities Ralph Hexter invited L&S deans to nominate faculty across a wide range of subject areas to take part in this year’s list. Professors recommended from two to 12 books in their field, providing a short narrative or review for each.

The online list is organized by subject area, and some surprises await intrepid browsers. Visit the biology page, where Cell and Developmental Biology Professor Richard Steinhardt sings the praises of Pablo Neruda’s 100 Love Sonnets and also challenges scientists to read The Psychology of Superstition. Others cover their chosen subject broadly yet thoughtfuly, offering new ways to think outside of the usual box.

Next year the plan is to extend the Berkeley Book List into new realms by reaching out to faculty in other disciplines and colleges.

Whether faculty members are writing about classics, topical tomes, or longtime favorites, their detailed, careful descriptions reveal their underlying passion for books. While the Berkeley Book List’s mission is lofty, it meets the most important criterion for such an endeavor — it’s “a good read.”