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Shelf Life May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

UCSD BOOKSTORE - NEW & NOTABLE

Here are a few new and notable faculty books at the UCSD Bookstore.

Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, coauthored by James Fowler, Political Science

James Fowler and his Harvard co-author, Nicholas Christakis, have been making front-page headlines with their social-network research since publishing a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2007. In that paper, on the social spread of the obesity epidemic—obesity is contagious; your friend can make you fat and, more remarkably, your friend’s friend’s friend can make you fat—the pair began documenting just how much other people matter, even in areas once thought to be largely “personal.” They also noted that though we may all be connected, famously, in “six degrees of separation,” influence in a social network seems to run through three degrees (your colleague’s husband’s sister) and then it peters out.

Written for a lay audience, Connected presents the pair’s own findings on social contagion—largely through analysis of network data unearthed in the ongoing Framingham Heart Study—along with corroborating research by others.

Scott Stossel, deputy editor of The Atlantic, wrote in a New York Times review that Connected manages to straddle two kinds of writing in the social sciences and be at once obvious and brilliant. The book, according to the publisher, “overturns the notion of the individual and provides a revolutionary paradigm—that social networks influence our ideas, emotions, health, relationships, behavior, politics and much more.” And while networks may help spread a host of negatives, the authors say, from crime and slander to sadness, they are vital to our wellbeing, as they also spread wealth, information, kindness, love and happiness.

Farber on Film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber, by Manny Farber, Visual Arts

An Entertainment Weekly writer anticipated Farber on Film as a “treasure trove.” Though the late Farber spent the last 30 years of his long life focused on painting, he remains beloved for his iconoclastic film criticism. Farber on Film is published by the Library of America, known for its handsome editions of “America’s best and most significant ­writing.” It is edited by the poet Robert Polito. “In poetry and fiction,” Polito told the San Diego Union-Tribune, “we sometimes speak of writer’s writers. Manny was a favorite critic of lots of other critics.”

Knossos and the Prophets of Modernism, by Cathy Gere, History
In a “fascinating and consistently entertaining account” (The London Times Literary Supplement), Gere shows the long-term effects on Western culture of the excavation and “reconstruction” of Knossos on Crete by British archeologist Arthur Evans that began in 1900. Evans’ often-fanciful interpretations of ancient Minoan society—as pacifist and matriarchal, pagan and cosmic progenitors of Europe—captivated and inspired such influential writers, artists and thinkers as Sigmund Freud, James Joyce, and Robert Graves. The consequences reverberate to this day.

Children’s Literature: A Reader’s History from Aesop to Harry Potter, by Seth Lerer, Literature, and dean of Arts and Humanities

Called an “Olympian survey” in a Washington Post review, Lerer’s book considers more than 2,600 years of literature, both works that one traditionally thinks of as being written for children and not-so-much. “With his vast and multi­dimensional knowledge of literature, he underscores the vital role it plays in forming a child’s imagination,” wrote a ­reviewer in the San Francisco Chronicle. After accepting the National Book Critics Circle Award for Children’s Literature, Lerer stopped to speak with mediabistro.com: He urged parents and children to read and “dream together.”

UCSD Bookstore

Visit the UCSD Bookstore online to purchase these titles and more. Look out for the monthly Alumni Special.

Man reading

TOP TEN

Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Guernsey Literary Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich and Caroline Mustill

My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult

New Moon–Twilight Saga #2 by Stephenie Meyer

Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

Post-America World by Fareed Zakaria

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen

When You are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris

2009 Sanford Guide to Antimicrobial Therapy by David N. Gilbert