St. John’s University Freshmen Read Humans of New York: Stories

St. John’s University’s 2015 Freshman Read is photographer, blogger, and #1 New York Times-bestselling author Brandon Stanton’s new book, Humans of New York: Stories.

All first-year students will receive a copy of the book from the university as soon as it’s published in October. Brandon will visit campus to speak to students as part of St. John’s Academic Lecture Series on November 5.

Students are participating in a campus-wide social media campaign, ‪#‎HumansofSJU, on Twitter and on Facebook, “designed to spotlight the unique qualities that distinguish those who study, teach, and work at St. John’s University. It is patterned after the popular ‘Humans of New York’ series. By showcasing these individuals, we will provide the community at large with a deeper understanding of the people and values that make our University what it is today.”


Click here to read about the “Humans of St. John’s University”

#HumansofSJU is a campaign designed to spotlight the unique qualities that distinguish those who study, teach, and work…

Posted by St. John’s University

Based in Queens, New York City’s largest borough, St. John’s is a medium-sized university where 70% of the diverse student body comes from New York state. HONY: Stories is an exciting, creative common reading pick that will help students put into perspective the enormous city that surrounds their school.

And, as Brandon Stanton has demonstrated since he started his photoblog in 2010, HONY’s relevance and appeal extends far beyond New York City’s limits.

Among HONY’s more than fifteen million social media followers are students all over the country and around the world who have already connected with this special type of storytelling, which pairs an impromptu portrait with a personal statement or story in the subject’s own words. HONY: Stories emphasizes those words, featuring hundreds of new portraits with detailed captions that tell humorous, inspiring, poignant, tragic, and above all, human stories. Loosely organized by theme, the book touches on such topics as family, culture, education, poverty and wealth, success and failure, spirituality, individuality—the kinds of things we all consider every day, on very broad or very minute levels. HONY: Stories explores how these big ideas impact our lives at any given moment, on any given day, no matter where we live.

Additionally, Brandon’s ongoing project has demonstrated the positive power and scope of social media. In early 2015, the vast HONY community raised more than $1.4 million to support students at Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brooklyn after sixth grader Vidal Chastanet appeared on the HONY blog and identified his principal, Nadia Lopez, as the most influential person in his life. This summer, while traveling in the middle east, Brandon explained the cycle of bonded labor that’s pervasive in Pakistan’s brick kilns. He photographed workers who have essentially been enslaved by the practice, and he featured a woman named Fatima who has dedicated her life to supporting and protecting those workers through her organization, the Bonded Labour Liberation Front. The HONY community has raised more than $2.3 million for the BLLF, empowering the organization and renewing Fatima’s hope of one day ending the illegal practice.

What stories would students tell in the hallways, classrooms, dormitories, and dining halls at your university? What experiences, values, and lessons would their portraits capture? Who would they recognize, or what cause would they support by sharing a portrait and a story? Reading HONY: Stories and exploring its many though-provoking facets as a group is one way to find out.

You can find Brandon Stanton and Humans of New York on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

St. John’s University’s previous Freshman Read book selections include Harvard professor Michael Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? and Triangle, Katharine Weber’s novel based on the devastating fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in 1911.

Humans of New York: Stories • St. Martin’s Press • 432 pages

Picking Cotton is the University of Kentucky’s 2015 Common Reading Experience Book

The University of Kentucky has selected Picking Cotton, the memoir co-authored by Jennifer Tompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, for the 2015-2016 Common Reading Experience!

All matriculating first-year students will receive a copy of the book from the university when they attend their two-day “see blue.” U Orientation over the summer. Before returning to campus in the fall, they’ll read it and complete a brief assignment in preparation for K-Week 2015, the new student transition and welcome week held just before classes begin. During K-Week, they’ll meet with other new students and upperclassmen serving as Peer Leaders to discuss Picking Cotton.

An initiative of UK’s New Student and Family Programs, Student Affairs, and Undergraduate Education offices, the CRE is meant to introduce new students to scholarly discourse and composition; to provide new classmates with a shared intellectual experience; and to engage the entire UK community around timely and relevant topics through yearlong programming on campus.

Throughout the 2015-2016 academic year, the university will hold events related to the book and its themes and topics: racial dynamics, sexual assault, criminal justice in the U.S., guilt and innocence, memory, and forgiveness.

The University of Kentucky realizes the immediate relevance of these topics for students embarking on their college experience just now in the United States; the university also recognizes that issues like sexual assault and racial dynamics must be approached with great sensitivity. The university has taken care to notify readers that the book may be an emotional trigger for some, especially for survivors of sexual assault. Wherever appropriate, students participating in the CRE are entitled to academic accommodations or alternatives.

Though the book’s complex topics and themes present some challenges for a diverse campus community, this year’s CRE also represents an opportunity for the university to emphasize its policies regarding sexual misconduct, mandatory reporting by UK affiliates, and racial discrimination, harassment, or bias, as well as valuable campus resources like the Counseling Center, the Office for Institutional Diversity, the Office of Institutional Equity and Equal Opportunity, and the Violence Intervention and Prevention Center

University President Eli Capilouto writes about this, shares information about related resources available on campus, around Central Kentucky, and nationwide, and expresses the importance of the Common Reading Experience to the UK community, in his compelling welcome letter to the newest class of Kentucky Wildcats. Click on the thumbnail at right to read the letter.

The University of Kentucky is one of fourteen schools that have adopted Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption for a common reading program. For more information about the book and about authors, speakers, and activists Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton, click here and visit The Innocence Project.

Picking Cotton • St. Martin’s Griffin • 320 pages

Join us for dinner with Joshua Davis at #FYE15!

Monday, February 9 at 7:00 pm
Dallas Ballroom Salon F | Omni Dallas Hotel
Dinner and author panel, with a book signing to follow.

This event is free! (RSVP is required—click here!)


spare partsJoshua Davis
author of
Spare Parts
Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot,
and the Battle for the American Dream

Farrar, Straus and Giroux | About the Book

breakthroughJack Andraka
author of
How One Teen Innovator Is Changing the World


resilienceEric Greitens
author of
Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

threelittlewordsAshley Rhodes-Courter
author of
Three Little Words
A Memoir
Simon & Schuster

Join us for dinner with Alice Goffman at #FYE15!

Saturday, February 7 at 7:45 pm
Dallas Ballroom Salon E | Omni Dallas Hotel
Dinner and author panel, with a book signing to follow.

This event is free! (RSVP is required—click here!)


on the runAlice Goffman
author of
On the Run
Fugitive Life in an American City

Picador | About the Book 

princeofloscocuyos Richard Blanco
author of
The Prince of los Cocuyos
A Miami Childhood


stationelevenEmily St. John Mandel
author of
Station Eleven
A Novel
A 2014 National Book Award Finalist

taleforthetimebeingRuth Ozeki
author of
A Tale for the Time Being
A Novel
Penguin Group USA