New Students at Hawaii Pacific University Read Little Brother

Non-fiction titles, including memoirs and books about societal issues, may be chosen for common reading programs more often, but fictional works with provocative, relevant themes and relatable, or perhaps intriguingly unique characters are good options, too.

This year, Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother was the first work of fiction to be chosen for HPU Reads, the common book program for first-year students at Hawaii Pacific University.

Little Brother is about a tech-savvy teenager who finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time and becomes a terrorism suspect. His casual objection to being monitored—via his internet use, the school-employed gate sensors, and public transit fast-passes—becomes a critical, life-altering protest. He—and the reader—must ask: Where is the line between public safety and personal freedom?

A committee at HPU selected the novel, as it has selected previous works for HPU Reads, based on the following criteria:

—A connection to global learning
—Appropriate to a wide variety of disciplines and courses
—Suggests a variety of co-curricular events and speakers that will enhance students’ general education experience
—Will sustain discussion for a term, if not for a year.
—Is appropriate for first-year college students.

On Little Brother’s theme, the importance of thinking critically about security, Cory Doctorow wrote, “It’s my sincere hope that this book will spark vigorous discussions about security, liberty, privacy, and free speech—about the values that ennoble us as human beings and give us the dignity to do honor to our species.”  Read the rest of “Security Literacy” here.

Little Brother • Tor Teen • 416 pages

Update 02/10/2010: Click here to become a fan of HPU Reads on Facebook!

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University of Wisconsin, Marathon County Selects Deep Economy for Shared Reading

The 2009-2010 Shared Reading title at the University of Wisconsin, Marathon County is Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. The book was selected by a committee of faculty and university administrators with the theme “Building Community” in mind.

Three years ago, when the Shared Reading theme was “Affluenza,” author Bill McKibben gave a capstone address on campus and the committee was eager to revisit McKibben’s work.  The school has enthusiastically incorporated his book into the curriculum and campus programming this year.

UW, Marathon County’s goal is to have each student to encounter the book in at least one course this year. The Shared Reading program committee has planned programming—speakers, panels, workshops, competitions—that will engage students, faculty and the statewide University of Wisconsin community throughout the academic year.

Several staff members associated with the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, which is based on the Marathon County campus, have written grants to support programming and expand the impact of the Shared Reading experience.

In recent years, Deep Economy has been adopted for similar common reading programs at Ohio Wesleyan University, RIT, and University of Texas, Arlington.

Bill McKibben is the author of five books published by Henry Holt, including Eaarth (available April 2010).