One Book, One College : Common Reading Programs

A number of colleges and universities having reading in common or summer reading programs. In many cases, libraries participate in choosing and discussing the book. In some cases, the library initiated the program and in others it appears to be either tied to a curriculum initiative (e.g. first year seminars) or to orientation (coming more from Student Affairs than from the academic side). In some cases, books are sent to incoming students; in others students are urged to purchase the book before coming to campus. For a literature review and analysis, see Andrew Twiton's report, "Common Reading Programs in Higher Education" (2007).

Several schools tie the program to a first year experience program or a new student orientation. (A list of summer reading programs like these is also maintained by the National Resource Center for the First Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina.) Some also are used in courses, but this is by no means standard and tends to be something teaching faculty choose to do on their own. Some programs offer public events, most often an author appearance, but most aren't formally tied to a wider community reads program (through, for example, public library and high school cross-programming).

For a state-by-state listing of what communities are reading, as well as programs in the UK, Australia, and Canada, see the "One Book" page at the Library of Congress's Center for the Book. The Beyond the Book project Website, a UK/Canadian research collaboration, has a lot of useful information related to community reading programs. For an excellent guide for first-year orientation discussion facilitators, see this handout prepared by Rebecca Taylor Fremo, prepared with The Kite Runner in mind. Feel free to adapt it to your needs, but please give Becky credit.

This list (and the previous year's list) is based on information gained from Web searches and from annual queries to the Summer Reading, ILI-L and COLLIB-L discussion lists. The year indicates when the book was adopted as a common book. If you'd like your institution added or information updated, please drop me a line. You may also be interesting in joining a Summer Reading Listserv group maintained at Appalachian State University.

In the news: articles in The New York Times, U.S. News and World Report and E-Source for College Transistions. See also an interesting 2006 article by Michael Ferguson in AAC&U's Peer Review. Recently,
the conservative National Association of Scholars has issued a critique of reading programs, concluding they promote liberal political agendas and lack intellectual rigor. For coverage and discussion see an Inside Higher Ed article on the report.

What were we reading in 2007?

What were we reading in 2008?

Acadia University (PA) -  Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (2009)

Agnes Scott Collge - Outcasts United by Warren St. John (2010)

Albion CollegeDreams from My Father by Barack Obama (2009)

Amarillo College (TX) - Miracle in the Andes by Nando Parrado (2009)

American University - The Moral Underground: How Ordinary Americans Subvert an Unfair Economy by Lisa Dodson (2010)

Appalachian State University - Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (2009)

Armstrong Atlantic State University (GA) - Waddy Welcome and the Beloved Community by Tom Kohler and Susan Earl (2010)

Atlantic Cape Community College (NJ) - Listening is an Act of Love by Dave Isay (2009)

Augustana College (Rock Island, IL) - Dreams from my Father by Barack Obama (2009)

Ball State University - A Long Way Gone: Memories of a Boy Soldier by Ismael Beah (2009)

Bellevue Community College - Listening is an Act of Love by Dave Isay (2009)

Belmont University (TN) - Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan (2009)

Berry College - Outcasts United by Warren St. John (2010)


Bowling Green State University - This I Believe edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gerdiman (2010)

California Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo - Flight by Sherman Alexie (2009)

California State University, ChicoThe Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, by William Kamkwamba (2010)


California State University, Northridge - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (2010)

California State University, Sacramento - The Devil's Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea (2010)

Case Western Reserve UniversityBottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It, written by Elizabeth Royte (2010)


Catawba College - Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer

Chaffey College (CA) - The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (2010)

Champlain CollegeStanding Up to the Madness by Amy Goodwin and David Goodman (2009)

Chandler-Gilbert Community College (AZ) - Oil on the Brain by Lis Margonelli (2009)

Clemson University - These Shining Lives by Melanie Marnich (2010)


Coastal Carolina University (SC) - The Brief History of the Dead by Kevin Brockmeier (2010)

Coker College (SC) - Where We Stand: Class Matters by bell hooks (2009)

College of Charleston
Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (2010)

The College of New Jersey
The Day of the Locust by Nathanael West (2010)

College of the Redwoods and Humboldt College - Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100 Mile Diet by James Mackinnon and Alisa Smith (2010)

Collin College (TX) - The Poe Shadow by Matthew Pearl (2009)

Community College of Baltimore County - The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (2010)

Cornell University - Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (2010)

Cosumnes River College (CA) - The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang (2010)

Dartmouth College1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, by Charles Mann (2010)

Delaware Valley College (PA) - The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (2010)

Duke University - Everything Matters by Ron Currie, Jr. (2010)


Eastern Illinois University This I Believe edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman (2010)

Eastern Kentucky University - A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (2010)

Elon University (NC) - A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (2009)

Florida International University - A Chant to Sooth Wild Elephants by Jaed Coffin (2010)

Florida State University - The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (2009)

Fort Lemoyne College (NY) - Only a Theory: Evolution and the Battle for America's Soul by Kenneth Miller (2009)

Goucher College - Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam  by Andrew X. Pham (2010)

Grace College (IN) - This Voice in My Heart by Gilbert Tuhabonye (2010)

Graceland University (IA) - Planetwalker by John Francis (2010)

Greensboro College (NC) - Confessions of an Eco-Sinner: Tracking Down the Sources of My Stuff by Fred Pearce (2009)

Gustavus Adolphus College (MN) - The Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford (2010)

Gwynedd-Mercy College - The Soloist by Steve Lopez (2009)

Hamline University (MN) - Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (2009)

Humboldt State University - Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet by James Mackinnon & Alisa Smith (2010)


Illinois Wesleyan University - No Impact Man by Colin Beavan (2010)

Indiana University of Pennsylvania - Make the Imposible Possible by Bill Strickland (2009)

Indiana University, South Bend - The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels (2010)

Indiana University Southeast - You are Not a Gadget by Jason Lanier (2010)

Ithaca College - Waldon by Henry David Thoreau (2010)

James Madison University - The DNA Age a series of New York Times articles by Amy Harmon (2009)

John Brown University (AR) - Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton (2010)

Kalamazoo College - Telex from Cuba by Rachel Kushner (2009)

Kansas State University - The Hunger Games by Susanne Collins (2010)

Keen State College - Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky (2009)

Long Island University / C.W. Post Campus - The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (2009)

Luther College (IA) - Oneota Flow: The Upper Iowa River and its People  by David Faldet (2010)

Mars Hill College (NC) - The Translator by Daoud Hari (2009)


Miami University (OH) - This I believe II: More Personal Philiosophies of Remarkable Men and Women edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman (2010)


Michigan State University - Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2010)

Michigan Tech - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2010)

Midlands Technical College (SC) - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (2010)

Montana State University - Double Take by Michael Connolly (2010)

Moncalm Community College
(MI) - Friday Night Lights by H. G. Bissinger (2010)

Mount Holyoke - a reading list including several articles and book excerpts (2010)

Mount Union College (OH) - Three Cups of Tea  by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (2009)

Murray State University - The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen (2010)

Muskingum College (OH) - Muskingum College: The Campus History Series by Heather Giffen, William Kerrigan and Ryan Worbs (2010)


Niagara University - When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka (2009)

Northern Arizona UniversityEnrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario (2009)

Northern Illinois University - The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (2010)

Northern Kentucky University - Thirteen Women Strong: The Making of a Team by Robert K. Wallace (2009)

Okahoma City UniversitySecret Daughter, a Mixed-Race Daughter and the Mother Who Gave Her Away by June Cross (2010)


Owensboro Community and Technical College (KY) - Maus by Art Spiegelman (2010)

Parkland College (IL) - Listening is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life by the StoryCorps Project, edited by David Isay (2010)


Pennsylvania State University, Berks - Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder (2010)

Philadelphia University - The Complete Persepolis by Mary Jane Satrapi (2010)

Ramapo College of New Jersey - Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder (2010)

Rosemont College (PA) - Slumdog Millionaire by Vikas Swarup (2009)

Rutgers University, School of Arts and Science Honors Program
 - The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell (2010)

St. Louis Community College - Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie (2009)

St. Mary's College of Maryland - Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elzabeth Kolbert (2009)


San Diego State UniversityThe Ape and the Sushi Master by Frans de Waal (2009)

San Jose State University - The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2010)

Smith College - Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sharyl WuDunn (2010)

Spokane Falls Community College - Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2010)

SUNY Brockport
A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah (2010)

SUNY Oswego - The Learners  by Chip Kidd (2010)

Susquehanna University - a collection of readings on the university's theme for the year, "A Sustainable Future" (2010)

Thomas College (ME) - The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (2009)

Triton College (IL) - The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers (2010)

University at Buffalo, SUNY - Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (2010)

University of Akron - The Soloist by Steve Lopez (2010)

University of Alabama, BirminghamOutcasts United by Warren St. John (2010)

University of Arizona (Tucson) - blog - White Gloves by John Kotre (2009)

University of ArkansasThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010)

University of California, Santa Barbara -  Ethics for the New Millennium by the Dalai Lama (2009)

University of California, Berkeley - programs and articles on the theme of "personalized medicine" (2010)

University of California, Davis
- Why Are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Beverly Daniel Tatum (2010)

University of FloridaThe Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (2010)

University of Kentucky - Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2010)

University of Louisville - Freakonomics by Steven D. Leavitt and Stephen J. Dubner (2010)


University of Maine - The Lucifer Effect by Philip Zimbardo (2009); Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi (2010)

University of Maryland (College Park) - Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn (2010)

University of Massachusettes, Amherst (Commonwealth College) - Dean's Book Course - Ten Little Indians by Sherman Alexie (fall 2009); In Persuasionn Nation by George Saunders (spring 2010)

University of Montana - MissoulaYour Inner Fish by Neil Shubin (2010)

University of North Carolina at Charlotte - The Blue Sweater by Jacqueline Novogratz (2010)


University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton (2010)

University of North Carolina, Wilmington
No Impact Man by Colin Beavan (2010)

University of North Texas - Big Coal by Jeff Goddell (2009)

University of South Carolina, Aiken - Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (2010)


University of Tennessee, Knoxville  -
Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World by Tracy Kidder (2010)

University of Texas at Arlington - A Journal for Jordan by Dana Candedy (2010)

University of Texas at San Antonio - Farewell, My Subaru by Doug Fine (2010)

University of the Sciences in Philadelphia - The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman (2010)

University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied ScienceThe Viking in the Wheatfield by Susan Dworkin (2010)

University of Washington - You are Never Where You Are (2010)

University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh - A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews (2010/2011)

University of Wisconsin, Madison - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010)

University of Wisconsin, Parkside -  This I Believe II by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman (2010)

Utah State University - Outcasts United by Warren St. John (2010)

Virginia Commonweath University -  
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010)

Wartburg College - Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver (2010)

Washburn University (KS) - Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (2008)

Washington State University - Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with Books, Not Bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan by Greg Mortenson (2010)


Whitman College (WA) - Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2010)



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