books

Berkeley is a city of artists and there is always an array of art events available that one can attend. Specifically for the book lovers out there, there are always various literary reading events organized by local book stores, literary enthusiasts or Cal’s passionate community of English students and faculty.  This semester does not deviate from the trend with Berkeley Art Museum’s new exhibition, the Reading Room. read more »


Ah, Deadweek … um, we mean Reading, Review and Recitation week, of course. Now that classes have ended officially, a whole week lies ahead before the crushing doom of finals. We all spend it differently, attempting to study with variations of success. The Clog went out on Sproul to find out what you’ll be up to, from student organization socials to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to living in the library. Comment below with your plans, both virtuously optimistic and realistically self-indulgent.

Best of luck in your studies (or lack thereof)!


BOOKS

Reading out loud is a skill that requires finesse. Nothing is worse when you are forced to read out loud to your peers, only to transform what used to be elegant prose into a stumbling, monotone mess. That said, whatever skills you may have at recitation (if you are good, the Clog is infinitely jealous), everyone can enjoy the art of listening. Berkeley offers many reading events where authors read excerpts from their own work and talk about their creative process. Local bookstores such as Moe’s Books and Mrs. Dalloway’s regularly host reading events to promote newly released titles. On campus, English faculty members  Vikram Chandra and Melanie Abrams hosts a prose reading session every second Thursday of each month at Morrison Library with their Story Hour program.  As you can see, there is no lack of opportunities to be able to gaze at the aura of the Author (yes, it needs to be capitalized). read more »


3254358374_e112df3cbbDo you remember reading for fun? That was nice, wasn’t it? Relive the better days of your life this week at Litquake.

What is Litquake, you ask? No it is not a literal earthquake or a natural disaster of any sort (disappointed?). It is the West Coast’s largest independent literary festival. What co-director Jane Ganahl says started as 20 authors doing 10 minute readings in Golden Gate Park, is now 850 authors at 150 events all over San Francisco and the Bay Area. The festival started last Friday but there is still plenty to go.

What does that mean, exactly? read more »


shakespeare and CoTo usher in the month of October, Shakespeare and Co. Booksellers is getting a head start on Halloween madness with a spooky selection in their window display.

We noticed the books while leaving Peet’s (just across the street) — coffee in hand, we took a few minutes to peruse a few covers and the words of wisdom that the folks at Shakespeare and Co. tacked on.

“One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes” was declared “not safe for wimps,” and we were advised that if we insisted on reading “A Touch of Dead,” not to do so “before bed.” A Scooby-Doo tale was prefaced simply: “Rikes!” read more »


479270001_68343e8678_bWe’re sure those of you who are out of Berkeley right now are beginning to ache to return to your classes and readings. At the same time, you have also been left thoroughly disenfranchised by the Clog’s summer to-do’s thus far which have actually required you to be in the Bay Area to enjoy. Well, fret no longer, as the University Library and College Writing Programs have released their annual summer reading list, this year’s theme—science. read more »


Michael Chabon inaugurated the new academic year of Story Hour with the first chapter (and afterword) of his recent novel “Gentlemen of the Road: A Tale of Adventure.” The original title? “Jews with Swords.”

Reaching the podium, a “J” of his cursive graying brown hair casually hanging across his forehead, Chabon looked across the packed Morrison Library. “I feel like the lyrics of that Nirvana song: ‘Here we are now, entertain us.’” It was the first joke of many that would leave the audience riveted to his every word, both scripted and off-the-cuff.

He had never read from “The Gentlemen” before, having published it just several months before his latest novel, “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union.” Initially “The Gentlemen” was a serial novel staged in 14 parts of exactly to-the-tee 2,000 words, Chabon said. The work is set in the world of the Khazars, an ancient Jewish kingdom.

He opened to the first chapter, reading down into the microphone, and had his voiced affected like the teller of a ghost story or Western duel. The audience sat, enraptured, while we counted vocabulary that could quite possibly appear on our looming GRE:

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Yes, yet another literary reading/public appearance. But these people are so amazing!

Next week, Michael Chabon will kick off the new year of Story Hour in Doe Library. He is scheduled to appear Thursday, Sept. 18 at 5 p.m., and the event will include a book sale and a reception (free food?).

Chabon is a local writer who is much-decorated, including the biggie Pulitzer Prize. His works include “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay” and “The Wonder Boys,” among others. “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union” is his most recent novel.

Image Source: kwc under Creative Commons
Michael Chabon [Story Hour 2008]


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If you compare a 2007 survey on Cal reading tastes to similar surveys administered in 1997 and 1987, what can you infer about Berkeley students? Perhaps we should be afraid–very afraid. In the past 20 years, student preferences strayed away from poignant classics like “The Fountainhead” and “The Color Purple,” to lucrative bestsellers like “Harry Potter” and the “Da Vinci Code.” Alright, we admit it–we read and loved both bestsellers–but what does it mean that the most elite public education institution in the world prefers contemporary fluff over literary heavyweights? Could it be a sign of the apocalypse?

Perhaps, but it could also be that “(t)he 1987 survey, like the ’97 version, was conducted simply by distributing sheets of paper to freshman English classes,” while the most recent one was a “web-based summer/fall 2007 Survey of New Students (SoNS)” from 2,875 freshmen in every major.

Obviously, that explanation isn’t as fun.

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