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Suggest a Go Big Read book for 2013-14!

Have you read any great books lately?

“Global connections” is the Go Big Read focus for the 2013-2014 academic year, and we’re taking suggestions starting now! (Fiction suggestions are highly encouraged.) To read more about the 2013-14 theme, check out this article.

The deadline to make your suggestion is February 1st, and you can use the form here. If you want to check and see if your favorite book has been nominated, take a look at the running suggestion list.

If you have any questions, shoot us an email: gobigread @ library. wisc. edu.

We can’t wait to see your suggestions!

“Go Big Read marries art and science”

 Image courtesy of Harper-Collins

Today’s Inside UW-Madison, the university’s newsletter for faculty and staff, includes this fantastic article by Jenny Price about Radioactive.  It’s a great discussion of one of the best things about this year’s Go Big Read pick: its widespread appeal.  Radioactive is not just a science book, although it deals with plenty of science; it’s not just an art book, although it’s certainly very artistic; and it’s not just a biography, although it certainly sheds light on Marie Curie’s private life.  Below, my favorite quote from the article:

The book is an arresting mash-up of art and science, with cyanotype images and luminous pages contributing to the emotional impact of a story about the human side of innovation and discovery.

Maybe that’s why Radioactive is so interesting to so many people: it’s a human story.  And of course that means the book can’t be just any one thing, because people aren’t just any one thing, either.

The article also talks about how members of the faculty will be incorporating the book into their courses, from introductory biology to journalism.  Have you gotten your copy yet?

Posted by Brooke Williams, (new) grad student assistant at the Go Big Read program

The Demise of Cooking?

I thoroughly enjoyed Michael Pollan’s feature article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine this week, “Out of the Kitchen, Onto the Couch.” Like many faculty and staff I’ve spoken with about Pollan’s visit, I feel that I am very responsible in my food choices already. I am a member of the proverbial choir that Pollan is preaching too. I prepare all our food at home, and aside from my addiction to Diet Coke, things are pretty wholesome.

Pollan’s feature this week chips away at this vision of ourselves. He looks at the paradox of our cultural obsession with cooking and the decreasing amount of time we spend actually cooking. In particular, he uses the new film Julie/Julia as an opportunity to compare early cooking shows with what we see today on the Food Network. And a parallel decline in actual, home cooking:

“Today the average American spends a mere 27 minutes a day on food preparation (another four minutes cleaning up); that’s less than half the time that we spent cooking and cleaning up when Julia arrived on our television screens. It’s also less than half the time it takes to watch a single episode of ‘Top Chef’ or ‘Chopped’ or ‘The Next Food Network Star.’ What this suggests is that a great many Americans are spending considerably more time watching images of cooking on television than they are cooking themselves — an increasingly archaic activity they will tell you they no longer have the time for.”

This piece may be extremely engaging to the multiple audiences of Go Big Read. It will hit home with the folks who already cook at home and with people who encounter cooking mainly through the television. It prompts us to examine the distance between things that are about cooking and actual cooking, and to think about what constitutes cooking today.

Last night, in addition to eating a meal cooked entirely from scratch with ingredients from the farmer’s market last night, I also drank several Diet Cokes and watched a recording of the season finale of “Next Food Network Star.” I knew better, but I couldn’t resist.

Sarah McDaniel, UW Libraries

Slow economy, slow food?

In “Out of the Office: Fast Bikes, Slow Food, and the Workplace Wars” (New Yorker June 22, 2009), Kalefah Sanneh discusses a number of books that signal an “artisanal revival,” in the way people eat and work, linking the popularization of the trend to the economic downturn. Sanneh says, “this artisanal revival has been particularly pronounced among foodies, thanks in part to the writer Michael Pollan, who helped popularize an American variant of the Italian culinary-agrarian movement known as Slow Food. In ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’ and ‘In Defense of Food,” Pollan surveyed the excesses of the ‘industrial food chain’ and paid thoughtful tribute to small farms and local produce.” Sanneh points out that, “the genius of this loosely organized movement is that it’s not a labor movement; it’s a consumer movement.”