The Great Read at Birmingham (GRAB) is our gift to you as a new student to the University of Birmingham. We believe that attending a University like Birmingham is about grappling with complex, multi-faceted, and even controversial ideas. As an academic community, we welcome and enjoy debate and hope that our book choices so far will stimulate your curiosity.
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Last year's book
The Incredible Human Journey by Professor Alice Roberts was chosen as the book for the Great Read at Birmingham (GRAB) 2013.
The book traces the origins of the human race from Africa through our colonisation of the globe. Using scientific methods, from analysis of climate changes to human genetics, whilst also exploring art, culture and society, the book encourages the reader to ask some of the great questions in life: who are we, and how did we get here?
Why this book?
This book was chosen due to its cross-disciplinary appeal - spanning areas such as geology, anthropology, genetics and archaeology to name but a few.
"...an easily digestible introduction to a complex but fascinating story" The Guardian Review
Both home and international students will have an opportunity to relate to its coverage of evolution across different continents. Author, Alice Roberts, has been our Professor of Public Engagement in Science since February 2012, and is also clinical anatomist. She is also a familiar name due to her regular appearances as a science presenter on television shows such as Coast and The Incredible Human Journey (upon which the book is based).
Amazon readers have reviewed The Incredible Human Journey with an average of 4.4 stars. Read more Amazon reviews
Grab book 2012 - Chocolate Wars
Last year’s book choice is Chocolate Wars, by Deborah Cadbury, chosen in recognition of Birmingham’s distinct chocolate history. From examining the methods of chocolate making to the psychology behind eating chocolate treats, events and seminars explored and debated the chocolate theme.
All incoming undergraduate students were given Chocolate Wars in their welcome pack and were encouraged to read the book before arriving at Birmingham so they could begin to engage with academic ideas and enjoy a shared experience with other new students when they arrived.
Kate Colquhoun "Engaging and scholarly, confident and compassionate, Chocolate Wars is less a family biography than an impressively thought-provoking parable for our times." Read the full review from the Telegraph
Why Chocolate Wars?
Chocolate Wars is the story of the Cadbury company from its early days to its purchase by Kraft. The book has been chosen by a panel of staff and students for its links to Birmingham, the positive image it portrays of our city and because its themes are relevant to a broad cross-section of University disciplines, from Business Management to Chemical Engineering, and Theology.