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). 

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 began with information gained from Web searches and from queries to the Summer Reading, ILI-L and COLLIB-L discussion lists and has been updated annually. 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.

In the news: articles about common reading programs have been published in The New York Times and U.S. News and World Report. See also an interesting 2006 article by Michael Ferguson in AAC&U's Peer Review. T
he conservative National Association of Scholars has repeatedly criticized these "beach book programs, concluding they promote liberal political agendas and lack intellectual rigor. 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, one successful program was described in the Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed covered a panel held at the 2012 Modern Languages Association conference. 

In 2014, the South Carolina House of Representatives cut the budget for common reading programs at the University of South Carolina in Spartanburg and the College of Charleston to "send a message" that selecting books about gay sexuality would not be supported by legislators. The College of Charleston announced it would save the program, which had chosen Alison Bechtel's Fun Home as a common book. Later the same month, the president of Purdue University cut their common reading program saying there wasn't sufficient research on its benefits to support the cost, and the money would be used to revise new-student orientation programs. Faculty protested the decision.  

In 2015, Inside Higher Ed surveyed over 100 schools to find out what they were reading, finding books about race and social justice particularly popular choices.

What were we reading in 2007?
What were we reading in 2008?
What were we reading in 2009/10?
What were we reading in 2011?

What were we reading in 2012?
What were we reading in 2013?

Adler School of Professional Psychology (IL) - The Round House by Louise Erdrich (2013)

Agnes Scott Collge - The Starboard Sea by Amber Dermont (2013)

Amarillo College (TX) - Wine to Water by Doc Hendley (2013)

Appalachian State University - Clapton's Guitar by Allen St. John (2014)

Armstrong Atlantic State University (GA) - Scratch Beginnings by Adam Shepard (2014)

Ball State University - The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (2014)

Bates (ME) - When We Were the Kennedys by Monica Wood (2013)

Baylor University Honors Program (TX) - The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman. (2013)

Belmont University (TN) - Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes by Daniel Everett (2013)

Bentley University (MA) - Creating Magic: 10 Common Sense Leadership Strategies From a Life at Disney by Lee Cockerell (2013)

Berry College (MA) - Into the Beautiful North by Luis Alberto Urrea (2014)

Bowling Green State University (KY) - The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (2014)

California State University, Chico -The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande (2014)

California State University, Northridge - The Postmortal by Drew Margary (2014)

California State University, Sacramento - Blasphemy by Sherman Alexie (2014)

Case Western Reserve University - Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (2013)

Chaffey College (CA) - Daytripper byGabriel Ba and Fabio Moon (2014)

Clemson University - Machine Man by Max Berry (2014)

Coastal Carolina University (SC) - Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game that Made a Nation by John Carlin (2014)

Colgate University (NY) - Tenth of December by George Saunders (2013)

College of Charleston - The Good Soldier by David Finkel (2014)

The College of New Jersey -The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (2014)

College of the Redwoods and Humboldt State University - War Dances by Sherman Alexie (2014)

College of Wooster (OH) - China in Ten Words by Yu Hua (2014)

Community College of Baltimore County - The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman (2014)

Cornell University - Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vitorio  by Amara Lakhous (2014)

Corning Community College (NY) -  No Impact Man by Colin Beavan (2014)

Cosumnes Community College (CA) - Bottlemania, by Elizabeth Royte (2014)

Davidson (NC) - The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (2014)

Drexel University - Botany of Desire by Michael Pollan (2013) 

Duke University - Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (2013)

Earlham College (IN) - Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese (2013)

Eastern Illinois University My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor (2014)

Eastern Kentucky University - Hamlet's Blackberry by William Powers (2014)

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

Goucher College - The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid (2014)

Gustavus Adolphus College (MN) -  Where am I Wearing? or Where am I Eating? by Kelsey Timmerman (2014)

Hampshire College
 (MA) -  Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon North (2014)

Hollins University (VA) - Wild Girls by Mary Stewart Atwell (2013)

Humboldt State University - War Dances by Sherman Alexie (2014)

Illinois Wesleyan University - Outcasts United by Warren St. John (2013)

Indiana University, South Bend - The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander (2014)

Ithaca College (NY) - The Good Lord Bird by James McBride (2014)

Kalamazoo College - We Need New Names by NoViolet Buluwayo (2014)

Kansas State University - The Ghost Map by Steven Johnson (2014)

Lackawanna College
 (PA) - Saddle Up, Charlie by C. Terry Walters and Charlie Wysocki (2014)

Luther College (IA) - The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar (2013)

Macalester College (MN) - Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi (2014)

Methodist University (NC) - Ethics and College Student Life by Kenneth Strike and Pamela Moss (2013)

Miami University (OH) - Freedom Summer by Bruce Watson (2014)

Michigan State University - March One by John Lewis or The Grace of Silence by Michelle Norris (2014)

Michigan Tech - In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by by Neil White (2014)

Montana State University - I am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (2014)

Moncalm Community College
 (MI) - Me Before You by Jojo Moyes (2014)

North Carolina Agricultural and Technological State University - Salt, Sugar, Fat by Michael Moss (2013)

Occidental College (CA) - The Speech by Gary Younge (2014)

Okahoma City University - Monique and the Mango Rains: Two Years with a Midwife in Mali by Kris Holloway (2014)

Owensboro Community and Technical College (KY) - Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline (2014)

Pennsylvania State University, Berks - This I Believe edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman  (2014)

Philadelphia University - Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie (2012)

Purdue University - No Impact Man by Colin Beavan (2013)

Ramapo College of New Jersey - Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario (2014)

Rhode Island College - Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain by Oliver Sacks (2014)

Rice University (TX) - Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain (2013)

Rutgers University, School of Arts and Science Honors Program - World Made by Hand by James Howard Kunstler (2014)

St. John's College (MD and NM) - Iliad, Homer (2013)

St. Michael's College (VT) - The Book of Job from The Bible (2013)

San Jose State University - My Beloved World by Sonia Sotamayor (2014)

Shepherd University (WV) - I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (2014)

Smith College - Whistling Vivaldi: And Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us by Claude Steele (2014)

SUNY Brockport - This I Believe edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman  (2014)

Susquehanna University - a collection of readings on the university's theme for the year,"Humor" (2014).

Tufts University (MA) - Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude M. Steele (2013)

University at Buffalo, SUNY - The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (2014)

University of Alabama, Birmingham - Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work (2014)

University of Arizona Honors Program The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (2014)

University of Arkansas - What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes (2014)

University of California, Davis
 - Thinking in Pictures: My Life With Autism by Temple Grandin (2014)

University of Florida - The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen with CharlesWilson (2014)

University of Houston - Victoria (TX) - Ready Player One by Ernest Kline (2014)

University of Kentucky - A Long Way Gone by Ismael Beah (2014)

University of Louisville -This I Believe edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman (2014)

University of Maine Honor's College - Eaarth by Bill McKibben (2014)

University of Maryland (College Park) - The Signal and the Noise: why so many predictions fail — but some don’t by Nate Silver (2013)

University of Maryland - Baltimore County - Hot: Living Through the Next Fifty Years by Mark Hertsgaard (2013)

University of Massachussetts, Amherst -  Orange is the New Black: A Memoir by Piper Kerman (2014)

University of Mississippi - The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan (2014)

University of Montana - Missoula - The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien (2014)

University of North Carolina at Charlotte - The Yellow Bird by Kevin Powers (2014)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - The Round House by Louise Erdrich (2014)

University of North Carolina, Wilmington - Ready Player One by Ernest Kline (2014)

University of South Carolina, Aiken - The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore (2014)

University of Tennessee, Knoxville  - Daytripper by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá  (2014)

University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Science - Ingenious by Jason Faagone (2014)

University of Wisconsin, Madison - I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai (2014)

University of Wisconsin, Parkside -  Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (2014)

Utah State University - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (2014)

Vanderbilt University - College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be by Andrew Delbanco (2013)

Ventura College (CA) - Packing for Mars by Mary Roach (2013)

Virginia Commonweath University -  The Circle by Dave Eggers (2014)

Wartburg College (IA) - Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (2014)

Washington State University - Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair With Trash by Edward Humes (2014)

Washington University (MO) - Notes from No Man's Land by Eula Biss (2013)

Whitman College (WA) - Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude Steele (2013)

Wingate University (NC) - Wine to Water by Doc Hendley (2013)

Xavier University of Louisiana
 -The Dressmaker of Khair Khana by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon (2014)