Clog summer reading list: books by Cal professors

Anne Adrian/Creative Commons

You thought this day would never come — you finally have enough free time to read for pleasure. It’s been too long since you last curled up on the sofa and read through the night with nothing but a cup of warm chamomile tea to keep you company. UC Berkeley usually provides an official summer reading list for its students, but we at the Daily Clog decided to draft our very own summer reading list with books by some of our favorite professors.

1.  “Supercapitalism” by Robert Reich


Robert Reich is arguably the most popular professor at UC Berkeley, and it’s practically a rite of passage to enroll in Reich’s Wealth and Poverty class by senior year. Reich has had a historic career. He served under the Ford and Carter administrations and was secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has published 14 books in the last 32 years. His bestseller, “Supercapitalism,” is a good introduction to the mind of this renowned political and economic thinker. It gives a powerful and lucid argument for the separation of politics and capitalism.

2.  “Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity” by Judith Butler

Gender Trouble

Judith Butler, a Maxine Elliot professor in the department of comparative literature and the Program of Critical Theory, is well known for her work as a gender theorist. “Gender Trouble,” one of her most controversial works ever since it was first published more than 20 years ago, argues that most of what we perceive to be natural differences between men and women is actually socially constructed. She maintains that gender is a performance rather than an essence.

3. “Time and Materials” by Robert Hass

Time and Materials

Robert Hass is an English professor at Cal and a former U.S. poet laureate. In 2011, Hass wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times called “Poet-Bashing Police,” in which he recounted his experience being hit in the ribs by a policeman’s baton during the Occupy Cal protests. “Time and Materials,” which is a collection of his poetry from 1995 to 2005, won the National Book Award in 2007 and the Pulitzer Prize in 2008. Sounds like a good read, right?

4. “Metaphors We Live By” by George Lakoff and Mark Johnson 

George Lakoff

George Lakoff, a linguistics professor at Cal, co-authored “Metaphors We Live By” with University of Oregon professor Mark Johnson. Through this book, both authors explore the way metaphors have shaped both our language and minds. They emphasize the importance of metaphors and claim that common idiomatic phrases reveal more about our minds than we think.

5. “Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines” by Richard A. Muller

Physics for Future Prez

Many undergraduates have taken the course Physics for Future Presidents to fulfill a breadth requirement, making it one of the most popular and well recommended classes on campus. So why not read the book that inspired the class? While you’re welcome to read the full textbook version of Richard Muller’s book that is assigned for the course, we recommend the abridged, reader-friendly version “Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines.” It is an entertaining and informative read that will help you understand the often-misunderstood subject of political debates.

6. “The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts” by Maxine Kingston

The Woman Warrior

Part novel and part memoir, Maxine Kingston’s “The Woman Warrior” defies genre classification. The book spans generations of women and weaves in elements of Chinese folk tales to chronicle the complex life story of Maxine Kingston herself, a first-generation Chinese-American woman. “The Woman Warrior” won the National Book Critics Circle Award and was named one of Time Magazine’s top nonfiction books in the 1970s.

7. “Earth Abides” by George Stewart

Earth Abides

George Stewart was a former professor of English on campus. His book, “Earth Abides,” is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi novel that takes place in Berkeley and Oakland. Landmarks like Doe Library and the Bay Bridge can be found in Stewart’s novel. The novel follows protagonist Isherwood Williams as he struggles to rebuild a society that has been wiped out by plague. Why hasn’t this book been turned into a TV show yet?

Image Sources: Anne Adrian under Creative Commons, Image 1, Image 2, Image 3, Image 4, Image 5, Image 6, and Image 7

Contact Lilia Vega at [email protected].