Cal Humanities

"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

"Part of resilience is finding joy, finding beauty, finding love."

— George Takei, Actor, Author, Director, Activist

What Will You Be Reading Over the Holiday Break?

At Cal Humanities we love books! Here’s what we’re reading over the winter break:

Angelica Dongallo is reading A Tale for the Time Being, by Ruth Ozeki
The story of a sixteen year-old girl in Japan named Nao and a writer in Canada named Ruth who are connected through a diary. Ruth finds Nao’s diary when she is walking along a beach on her remote Canadian island. She believes it to be part of the debris from the tsunami of 2011. She sets out to prove her suspicions. Her husband and others tell her that they are too far inland for the debris and it is too early to be reaching them.


Jody Sahota is reading All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
A novel about  a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Felicia Kelley is reading The Martian, by Andy Weir and Americanahby Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Martian a novel about an American astronaut named Mark Watney is stranded on Mars after a vicious sandstorm cuts him off from his fellow crew members. They assume, with good reason, that he has been killed in the storm; their only recourse is to save themselves by aborting the mission and returning to Hermes, the mother ship.

In Americanah The two main characters, Ifemelu and Obinze, falls in love growing up in Nigeria, but when Ifemelu goes to study in the United States, these two soul mates break up and grow apart. Americanah charts the arc of their lives from teenagers through adulthood, switching back and forth between their points of view.

Chris Sutherland is rereading her childhood favorite Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, and a work of nonfiction, The Good Marriage: How & Why Love Lasts by Judith S. Wallerstein and Sandra Blkeslee.
Black Beauty tells the story of the horse’s own long and varied life, from a well-born colt in a pleasant meadow to an elegant carriage horse for a gentleman to a painfully overworked cab horse.

The Good Marriage, inspired by the hope that the experience of satisfied husbands and wives might provide useful lessons to others, Wallerstein, a clinical psychologist and specialist on divorce, and Sandra Blakeslee, who writes frequently for The New York Times, interviewed 50 predominantly middle-class, northern California couples who had been married nine years or more and had at least one child.

Carlos Torres is reading In the Woods by Tana French.
Irish author French expertly walks the line between police procedural and psychological thriller in her debut novel. When Katy Devlin, a 12-year-old girl from Knocknaree, a Dublin suburb, is found murdered at a local archeological dig, Det. Rob Ryan and his partner, Cassie Maddox, must probe deep into the victim’s troubled family history.

Neha Balram is reading Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.Never Let Me Go is set in a dystopian world in which human clones are created so that they can donate their organs as young adults. The novel follows the life story of Kathy, a clone who is raised at a boarding school for future “donors.”

Kristina Kearns is reading Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle and Gate of the Sun by Elias Khoury
Madness, Rack and Honey – Over the course of 15 years, award-winning poet Mary Ruefle delivered a lecture every six months to a group of poetry graduate students. Collected here for the first time, these lectures articulate the wisdom accrued through a life dedicated entirely to poetry.

Gate of the Sun’s compelling narrative structure is akin to that of the Arabian Nights and other pre-modern works of literature. From a hospital room in Beirut’s Chatila camp, a narrator stands over a comatose patient’s bed, telling him stories in the hope of bringing him back to consciousness.


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