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. T
he 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. Carolyn Foster Segal wrote about the difficulties of choosing a common reading and argues for books that are sustained and challenging at Inside Higher Ed. More recently, there has been coverage in both the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed (describing a panel held at the 2012 Modern Languages Association conference). The

What were we reading in 2007?

What were we reading in 2008?
What were we reading in 2009/10?

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

Agnes Scott Collge - How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer (2011)

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

Appalachian State University - Born to Run by Christopher McDougall (2011)

Armstrong Atlantic State University (GA) - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2011)

Ball State University - The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls (2011)

Bates (ME) - Winning: Reflections on an American Obsession, by Francesco Duina (2011)

Baylor University Honors Program (TX) - The Whole Five Feet, by Christopher R. Beha (2011)

Belmont University (TN) - My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (2010)

Bentley University (MA) - The Last Lecture, by Randy Pausch (2011)

Berry College - The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (2011)

Bowling Green State University - No Impact Man by Colin Beavan (2011)

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

California State University, NorthridgeThe Glass Castle, by Jeannette Walls (2011)

California State University, Sacramento - The Grace of Silence by Michele Norris (2011)

Case Western Reserve University - Justice by Michael J. Sandel (2011)

Chaffey College (CA) - The Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (2011)

Clemson University - Saints at the River by Ron Rash (2011)

Coastal Carolina University (SC) - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2011)

Colgate University (NY) - Acts of Faith, by Eboo Patel (2011)

College of Charleston
The Known World by Edward P. Jones (2011)

The College of New JerseyThe Victorian Internet 
by Tom Standage (2011)

College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State University - The Help by Katheryn Stockett (2011)

College of Wooster (OH) - Brother, I'm Dying, by Edwidge Danticat (2011)

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

Cornell University - Homer and Langely by E.L. Doctorow (2011)

Cosumnes Community College (CA) - I Do Not Come to You By Chance by Adoabi Tricia Nwaubani (2011)

Davidson (NC) - In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White (2011)

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

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

Earlham College (IN) - Rooftops of Tehran, by Mahbod Seraji (2011)

Eastern Illinois University Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn (2011)

Eastern Kentucky University - The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (2011)

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

George Mason University (VA) - Fall for the Book - an annual city-wide book festival

Goucher College - The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (2011)

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

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

Gustavus Adolphus College (MN) -  The Wolf at Twilight: An Indian Elder's Journey Through a Land of Ghosts and Shadows by Kent Nerburn (2011)

Hampshire College (MA) - Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other, by Sherry Turkle (2011)

Hollins University (VA) - Outcasts United by Warren St. John (2011)

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, South Bend - The Post-American World by Fareed Zarkaria (2011)

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

Ithaca College (NY) - Ransom by David Malouf (2011)

James Madison University (VA) - 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 - The Good Soldiers by David Finkel (2011)

Kansas State University - Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2011)

Lackawanna College
(PA) - A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron (2011)

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

Macalester College (MN) - What Is the What, by Dave Eggers (2011)

Methodist University (NC) - Scratch Beginnings, by Adam Shepard (2011)

Miami University (OH) - The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer (2011)

Michigan State University - Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer (2011)

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

Midlands Technical College (SC) - Having Our Say: The Delany Sister's First 100 Years by Sarah L. Delany and Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Heath (2011)

Montana State University - 127 Hours Between a Rock and a Hard Placei  by Aron Ralston (2011)

Moncalm Community College
(MI) - Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison (2011)

Murray State UniversityPersepolis: The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi (2011)

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

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

Occidental College (CA) - Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, by Anna Deavere Smith (2011)

Okahoma City UniversityOutcasts United by Warren St. John (2011)

Owensboro Community and Technical College (KY) - September 11, 2001: American Writers Respond (2011)

Parkland College (IL) - Zeitoun
by Dave Eggers (2011) 

Pennsylvania State University, Berks - Choosing Civility by P. M. Forni (2011)

Philadelphia University - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2011)

Ramapo College of New Jersey - Lies My Teacher Told Me by James W. Loewen (2011)

Rhode Island College - When the Emperor Was Divine by Julie Otsuka (2011)

Rutgers University, School of Arts and Science Honors Program
 - The Monsters of Templeton by Lauren Groff (2011)

St. John's College (MD and NM) - Iliad, Homer (2011)

St. Michael's College (VT) - Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer (2011)

San Jose State University - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2011)

Shepherd University (WV) - This I Believe, edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman (2011)

Smith College
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2011)

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

SUNY Brockport
Emergence: Labeled Autistic by Temple Grandin (2011)

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 Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (2011)

Tufts University (MA) - Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers (2011)

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, BirminghamThinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin (2011)

University of Arizona - blog - The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen (2011)

University of ArkansasNo Impact Man by Colin Beavan (2011)

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

University of Florida - Outcasts United by Warren St. John (2011)

University of Houston - Victoria (TX) - World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks (2011)

University of Kentucky - Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2010)

University of Louisville - The Othere Wes Moore by Wes Moore (2011)

University of Maine - The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Polan (2011)

University of Maryland (College Park) - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2011)

University of Maryland - Baltimore County - Outcasts United, by Warren St. John (2011)

University of Massachussets, Amherst
- A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind (2011)

University of Montana - Missoula - Field Notes from a Catastrophe by Elizabeth Kolbert (2011)

University of North Carolina at Charlotte - How Does it Feel to be a Problem?  by Moustafa Bayoumi (2011)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (2011)

University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2011)

University of South Carolina, AikenThe Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen (2011)

University of Tennessee, Knoxville  - The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot (2011)

University of Texas at Arlington University College - 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 Science -  Packing for Mars, by Mary Roach (2011)

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 - Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario (2011)

University of Wisconsin, Parkside -  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie (2011)

Utah State University - Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2011)

Vanderbilt University - The Good Life by Peter J. Gomes (2011) 

Ventura College (CA) - Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (2011)

Virginia Commonweath University -  
The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (2011)

Wartburg College - Persepolis by Mariane Satrapi (2011)

Washington State University - Physics for Future Presidents by Richard A. Muller (2011)

Washington University (MO) - The Cellist of Sarajevo, by Steven Galloway (2011)

Whitman College (WA) - The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman (2011)

Xavier University of Louisiana
- Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser (2011)

Barbara Fister 5/12