Some new non-fiction books with ties to Berkeley to read over Labor Day

Berkeleyside recommended some great new fiction books for summer in July. Now that Labor Day is almost here, we have some new nonfiction books by Berkeley authors or with a Berkeley theme to pick up over the long holiday weekend.

Sigmund Freud is an iconic figure in the world of psychoanalysis, an influential 20th-century sage, even as his reputation has been battered in recent years. Who doesn’t interpret their own dreams – a concept heralded by Freud? Who doesn’t believe that the unconscious plays a role in how humans act? Now Frederick Crews, a professor emeritus of English at UC Berkeley and a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books has written what many are calling a definitive – and highly critical – biography of Freud. He will never be regarded in the same way again because, in Freud: The Making of an Illusion, Crews argues in detail how Freud deceived the world. He covered up his errors, blew experiments, created a cult of personality around himself while mistreating his family, overused the concept of repressed memory and used too much cocaine. Of course, those on the other side of the so-called “Freud Wars,” don’t think much of Crews’ critique. At 700 pages, this detailed biography is convincingly damning, according to most critics.

Jerry Rubin only lived in Berkeley for a short time, but, oh, what a time it was. In January 1964, Rubin, then 26 moved here to attend grad school at UC Berkeley. He dropped out in his first semester. The world was in turmoil with the Free Speech Movement and the war in Vietnam and Rubin couldn’t wait to jump in to try and fix things. Rubin ran for mayor in Berkeley, winning 20% of the vote, set up boycotts of local businesses that would not serve to African-Americans and organized a Vietnam teach-in on the UC Berkeley campus in May 1965, the largest in the U.S. Surprisingly, there has not been a full biography before now on Rubin, who went on to found the YIPPIES, to raise political stunt making to an art and to become one of the Chicago 8. Now Pat Thomas, a recording industry professional and historian, has written Did It! From Yippie To Yuppie: Jerry Rubin, An American Revolutionary. Thomas interviewed dozens of Rubins friends and political colleagues. He examined Rubin’s correspondence with Abbie Hoffman, Norman Mailer, John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Eldridge Cleaver, the Weathermen, and others. The book is chock full of 60’s influencers, including Allen Ginsberg, Phil Ochs, Bob Dylan, Timothy Leary, Charles Manson, and Mick Jagger.

At the Aug. 27 rally, comedian and social commentator W. Kamau Bell marched along with hundreds of others in an inter-faith protest to speak out against hate. Bell, who lives in Berkeley and whose CNN show United Shades of America is in its second season, has a new memoir. In The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6′4″, African-American, Heterosexual, Cisgender, Left-Leaning, Asthmatic, Black and Proud Blerd, Mama’s Boy, Dad, and Stand-Up Comedian, Bell explores a host of relevant issues, such as race relations, fatherhood, his interracial marriage, and his upbringing. His parents were strong-willed and ideologically opposed to one another, Bell writes. He explores how he made it as a stand up comic on the stages of Los Angeled and New York, played in a sitcom and parlayed that into shows about current events, but with a comic twist.


In The Patterning Instinct: A Cultural History of Humanity’s Search for Meaning, Jeremy R. Lent of Berkeley explores the human journey from the stone age to the space shuttle via “an archeological exploration of the mind.” Lent is the founder of the Liology Institute, dedicated to “fostering a worldview that could enable humanity to thrive sustainably on the earth.” The book explores the ways different people thought, from early hunter-gatherers and farmers, ancient Egyptians, traditional Chinese sages, the founders of Christianity, trail-blazers of the Scientific Revolution, as well as modern man. Lent argues that each society created thought patterns that are passed down and which shape culture. Much of the western world is based today on capitalism, consumerism, and conquering nature, and those ideas are threatening the earth, Lent argues. But we inherited those ideas. They are not inherent to who we are so they can be changed. Paul Ehrlich praised the book, calling it “a tour de force on the biological and psychological background of the human predicament.”

Jonathan K. DeYoe is a wealth management and financial advisor in Berkeley, but his new book about money is not about the mere pursuit of it. Mindful Money: Simple Practices for Reaching Your Financial Goals and Increasing Your Happiness Dividend, is described this way: “Is it possible to be a conscientious citizen of the world and grow wealth? The author, a Buddhist and a financial planner, says yes and explains exactly how. Money drives many of our decisions. We all worry about earning it, spending it, and saving it — regardless of our income level or spiritual perspective. Yet few of us understand money’s true nature.”  The book is divided into three sections. The first part addresses “illusions” about money; the second part examines the eight “pillars of happiness,” and the third part looks at the concrete steps to take to develop a financial plan. DeYoe writes about saving and investing money, but he also encourages people to consider their own values and to use money to look for a “happiness dividend.” He encourages readers to save for the long term and to help out others by volunteering, not merely donating to causes. DeYoe says that will make you happier, too. Alice Walker wrote a foreword, which Publisher’s Weekly calls “a rapturous ode to penny pinching entitled “Counting My Eggs,” that alone is worth the price of the book. “

Arthur Blaustein’s Make a Difference: The Ultimate Volunteer Handbook, first came out in 2011 but was updated in 2016, just in time for President Trump. Blaustein, who has taught in many different departments at UC Berkeley, including City and Regional Planning, American Studies, and the Department of African-American Studies, argues that democracy is tied to volunteerism. The world is troubled with political strife, ecological catastrophes, hunger and violence. Millions need help and Blaustein asks us to look in the mirror and examine how much we give back. He lays out ways people can volunteer and make a difference. He includes lists of where people can volunteer and discusses how to incorporate volunteerism in life. Interviews are also scattered throughout the book. UC Berkeley distributed 1,000 copies of this book at the 2017 graduation in hopes of inspiring a new generation of volunteers, said Blaustein.