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Lift Our Gazes: UC Berkeley Summer Reading List for New Students, 2021

Dear New Cal Students,

We are very pleased to welcome you to Cal with this year’s edition of the UC Berkeley Summer Reading List for New Students, an annual compilation of reading recommendations from Cal students, faculty, and staff that we pass along with our greetings to new first-year and transfer students joining the Golden Bear community.

This summer’s theme is “Lift Our Gazes.” The past year has been trying in so many ways, including the awfulness of the global pandemic that we’re still enduring. To acknowledge this difficult period in our history while also looking to the future with hope, purpose, and resilience, we take inspiration for this year’s theme from 22-year-old Amanda Gorman’s poem read at the 2021 Presidential Inauguration and “lift our gazes to...what stands before us.”

On the list below you’ll find nonfiction, fiction, plays, and poetry that tell stories and histories of people looking clear-eyed at the past and/or inspiringly towards the future as the writers actively participate in seeing and re-seeing the world, and sometimes themselves. We hope one of these books might help you to lift your own gaze as you come to campus in the fall to embark on the next stage of your life’s journey.

Speaking of coming to campus, we look forward to seeing you--and all the rest of us--on the UC Berkeley grounds come fall, when you will be able to look up these books not only online but also in person at one of Cal’s many libraries. You’ll be able to lift your gazes to the millions of books in Berkeley’s collections; to the tolling of the Campanile; to the calling of our resident peregrine falcons, Annie and Grinnell; and to the many other sights, sounds, and experiences you’ll discover at your new academic home.

In the meantime, we wish you happy reading!

Michael Larkin (he/him)
College Writing Programs

Tim Dilworth (he/him)
First-Year Coordinator
UC Berkeley Library

Alison Wannamaker
Graphic Designer
UC Berkeley Library

Image credit:
Eadweard Muybridge, from the collections of The Bancroft Library*
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