Hundreds of students formed a cluttered line in the University of California Santa Barbara Davidson Library to get their hands on a free copy of Joshua Foer’s novel, “Moonwalking with Einstein.” Two thousand books were distributed for free on Jan. 10 to the students of UCSB in coalition with UCSB Reads 2013, a program designed to unite the UCSB and Santa Barbara communities in a common reading experience.
“From the beginning,” Executive Vice Chancellor Gene Lucas states on the UCSB Reads 2013 website, “the goal of UCSB Reads has been to encourage a common reading and intellectual experience for our community and to stimulate discussion of important interdisciplinary issues. It unifies the campus and provides opportunity for our faculty to go out into the community to share their knowledge and expertise.”
To encourage interest in reading and author Joshua Foer’s presentation on March 4, Librarians, UCSB students, UCSB Chancellor Henry Yang and his wife, Executive Vice Chancellor Lucas and UCSB Internal Vice President Mayra Segovia handed out the novels, quickly depleting their supply.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Segovia. “This is my first time ever doing this and I was telling one of the librarians that I feel like Oprah. You get a book. You get a book…I just think this is cool and it’s really awesome that our library does this.”
Chancellor Yang and his wife personally handed out the novels, discussing the book and speaking to and taking photos with the students.
“It’s just such a fantastic turnout,” said Yang. “I’m so glad the students are so excited…It grows more enthusiastic every year.”
Sponsors from across the community and Associated Students contributed to the UCSB Reads 2013 to ensure the books could be distributed for free. Jane Faulkner, English and French librarian at Davidson, said the turnout was impressive.
“It appeals to everyone,” said Fulkner. “Everyone has a memory. We can all relate on some level to the discussion of memory.”
University librarian Denise Stephens helped organize and lead the event and agreed with Yang about the eager feedback.
“This is a really enthusiastic response to the book selection,” said Stephens. “It’s an indicator that we’re probably going to have a really successful year this year…This topic seems to be very interesting, maybe because we all want to learn how to remember things better.”
Stephens said she read the book and hopes students will enjoy it as well.
“I think it’s a very approachable and fast read that really can have some practical benefit,” said Stephens. “It’s really full of good anecdotes that I think most people will identify with.”
The distribution of “Moonwalking with Einstein” begins a quarter-long look into memory and the mind. The series continues with a film screening of Rain Man and a question and answer period with Screenwriter Barry Marrow on Jan. 30. Concluding the events on March 4, “Moonwalking with Einstein” author Joshua Foer will read excerpts from his novel and, if all goes according to plan, speak to an audience able to remember the finer points of his book.