THIS I BELIEVE II is Tennessee Tech University’s 2016 #CommonReading Book!

Tennessee Technological University has selected This I Believe II as their 2016 Common Read Book!

All incoming first-year students are required to read This I Believe II this fall, and other university and community members are also invited to participate. Each first-year student will receive a copy of the book in their University Connections course in the fall.

In addition to participating in classroom discussions about This I Believe II‘s themes, students will also have the opportunity to meet Dan Gediman when he visits Tennessee Tech in the fall. Gediman will give a keynote speech discussing his role in the preparation and selection of essays for This I Believe and This I Believe II, and he will host a mini-workshop to assist students in developing their own “This I Believe” essay. Following the workshop and the completion of their “This I Believe” essays, students will be invited to submit their essays for inclusion in Tennessee Tech’s own “This I Believe” collection. The essay collection will be published after the fall semester.

Sister Helen Prejean, who contributed an essay to This I Believe IIis also expected to be on campus in the fall as part of Tennessee Tech’s Center Stage lecture series. Additional events are still being planned and more information is to come.

This I Believe II was selected for Tennessee Tech’s Common Book program primarily because of its diverse array of narratives, perspectives, and experiences. “We feel This I Believe II allows readers to experience a variety of events, cultures, and different beliefs through relatively short essays,” explained Allen Mullis, Common Book committee chair and director of Orientation and Student Success. “Unlike previous Common Book selections, students can open up any page and begin reading essays from people of all walks of life.”

This is the fifth year of Tennessee Tech’s Common Book program. Each year, a book is selected by a committee of faculty and staff, who read a selection of books that have been submitted through an online form. All university community members are able to submit book suggestions. The primary goal of this program is to create a shared reading experience for all incoming first-year students, faculty, and many university community members. The Common Book program also seeks to:

  • Challenge students to broaden their personal perspectives through participation in a university and community-wide conversation.
  • Introduce students to contemporary global issues.
  • Develop intellectual engagement inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Create a foundation for students to explore values and ethics.
  • Provide an introduction to the educational experience at Tennessee Tech.

Click here to see other schools that have adopted This I Believe IIand its predecessor, This I Believe. Visit our Popular Picks page for more common reading options from Macmillan!

This I Believe II • Picador • 288 pages


BEING MORTAL is UNC-Chapel Hill’s 2016 Carolina #SummerReading Book! (#CommonReading)

Being MortalThe University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has selected Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal for their 2016 Carolina Summer Reading program!

All incoming first-year and transfer students are expected to read the book over the summer and participate in small group discussions on the Monday before fall 2016 classes begin. The book is available for purchase in the campus bookstore.

Being Mortal was selected as the 2016 Carolina Summer Reading book by a nine-person committee consisting of faculty, staff, and students. Over the last several months, the Committee narrowed down the initial pool of 169 book nominations to seven finalists. Out of the seven finalists, Being Mortal was the Committee’s unanimous first choice.

UNC-Chapel Hill explained that they selected Being Mortal for a variety of reasons, including that the book is “well-written, it honors human diversity and success, and it is a celebration of life that challenges readers to respect human dignity.” However, the school’s committee ultimately chose this book because they felt that it addresses issues in medical and health sciences with a multidisciplinary lens that makes it relevant for a variety of majors, and it tackles topics that have not received enough opportunities for dialogue.

The school also felt that the book is an important read for students because it touches on universal topics that transcend generational divides, economic status, sexual orientation, racial identities, and gender identities. Tim Marr—distinguished associate professor of American Studies and chair of the Committee—explained that the Committee hopes that reading Being Mortal will help students confront death (the book’s primary theme) by “encouraging open discussion about important matters faced by every family for which medicine can ultimately provide no answer.”

The Carolina Summer Reading program aims to stimulate critical thinking outside of the classroom, and give new students common intellectual ground. It is used as an academic icebreaker, and it encourages students to engage with the scholarly community and come to their own conclusions about the material.

The UNC-Chapel Hill community was already familiar with Atul Gawande because he was the school’s 2014 Commencement Speaker. His Commencement speech confronted the graduating crowd with a story of children suffering from cancer. Yet, his message ultimately focused on the resources of strength and resilience people find to flourish in life—despite adversity—by connecting with a purpose larger than themselves that aids others.

Click here to see other schools that have adopted Being Mortaland other Popular Picks for common reading from Macmillan!

Being Mortal • Metropolitan Books • 304 pages


Justice is Sacred Heart University’s 2014 Summer Reading Book

Sacred Heart University’s Class of 2018 will all read Michael J. Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? before beginning classes in the fall. Intended “to prepare [students] for the start of their college careers and for the academic realities of college life,” the Summer Reading is considered the first assignment of each student’s college education.

The book will be on syllabuses in First-Year Seminars in various disciplines including English, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Psychology, and Political Science, and in certain sections of FLO 125: The Art of Thinking, a class focused on the essentials of logic and critical thinking.

Beyond the classroom, students will take part in “a series of faculty-led discussions on Justice and its potential impact on [their] lives both as students and as citizens.” Michael Sandel will speak at Sacred Heart in September.

The university is also holding a Summer Reading Essay Contest. First-year students may participate by writing a response to the prompt:

As you enter college and after reflecting on your reading of Justice, what can you learn from this book that might be significant as you begin this new chapter in your life?  Our Common Core asks us to consider how we might live lives of meaning and purpose.  From reading the text and considering the issues and complexities Sandel presents, how might it offer us some guidance—or perhaps some warning—as we embark on our personal journeys toward lives of meaning and purpose?

Click here to see the other schools that have adopted Justice and other Popular Picks for common reading from Macmillan!

Justice • Farrar, Straus & Giroux Paperbacks • 320 pages

Beautiful Souls is Penn State’s Inaugural Common Reading Book

This year, for the first time, new students at Penn State University will read a common text before beginning classes: Eyal Press’ Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times. The inaugural book was chosen “for its broad approach to ethics and ethical decision-making.”

Penn State Reads Logo

The new program, Penn State Reads, “is designed to provide a shared experience among new students, encourage intellectual engagement within and beyond the classroom, stimulate critical thinking, and foster a deeper connection to Penn State’s mission and core values.”

More than 7,000 incoming students will receive a copy of Beautiful Souls when they visit campus this summer for a two-day New Student Orientation session. They’ll read the book before returning to Penn State for the fall semester.

Faculty are encouraged to incorporate the text and its themes into coursework for first-year students as well as upperclassmen. The university has compiled a study and teaching resource guide to Beautiful Souls. It includes discussion questions and links to biographies of the philosophers and major figures, details about the geographic locations, and background on the major topics and historical references mentioned in the book.

Outside the classroom, related events like art exhibits, performances, films, speakers and workshops, and a trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum are planned. One key speaker, Eyal Press, will visit campus to meet students and give a “lecture connecting the themes of Beautiful Souls to the experiences and challenges facing college students today.”

Several other schools throughout the Penn State University system, including the Berks and Abington campuses, are also incorporating Beautiful Souls into curricular and co-curricular programming this fall. It’s a great example of neighboring schools exchanging ideas, pooling resources, and extending the shared intellectual experience even further.

Read more about Eyal Press’ book in our online catalog, or request an examination copy of Beautiful Souls or another one of Macmillan’s best books for first-year reading!

Beautiful Souls • Picador • 320 pages

Update: A Conversation with Eyal Press

Eyal Press spoke with WPSU/Penn State Public Media on October 24, part of their Conversations from Penn State interview series.

First Year Students at Washington University in St. Louis Read Notes from No Man’s Land

Washington University in St. Louis has selected Eula Biss’ National Book Critics Circle Award winner Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays for the 2013 First Year Reading Program. Throughout the fall semester, the book will be a feature in new students’ college transition.

Incoming members of the class of 2017 will receive a copy of Notes from No Man’s Land from a university this summer. They’re asked to read the book and consider its themes; the university has created a Reader’s Guide to help them get started. Students will discuss their thoughts during Bear Beginnings, WUSTL’s fall orientation program. Lead by a faculty member or another leader from the campus community, students will discuss the book with other freshmen from their residence hall.

What do you think? What are your opinions? What would you like to ask your new classmates or professors? . . . We urge you to approach the First Year Reading Program discussions in a spirit of openness and the delight of discovery . . . There are no right or wrong answers, no grades, and diverse viewpoints and perspectives will be encouraged and respected. The more involved you choose to be, the more you will take away from this experience.

First Year Reading Program, Bear Beginnings: Fall Orientation

Each year, the university sponsors a contest, challenging first year students to express their perspective on the common reading book through a creative medium. This year, students who respond to Notes from No Man’s Land through writing, video, photography, art, or music will be eligible to win one of five spots at a lunch with author Eula Biss in September. One grand prize winner will also receive a $250 gift certificate to the campus bookstore.

Previously, WUSTL has adopted Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe for the First Year Reading Program.  Visit our online catalog and browse more Macmillan books for first year reading!

Notes from No Man’s Land • Graywolf Press • 208 pages

Why Not Read Now? Southern Connecticut State University Reads This I Believe

“Why not read now?” asks Southern Connecticut State University, which most recently selected This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women, for its common book program, Southern Reads.

Last summer, when new SCSU students attended Orientation, they each received a copy of the book from the university’s Hilton C. Buley library. The library provided the books for all first-year students, as it has every summer since the program’s inception in 2010.

Students began reading right away with a short overnight assignment while they stayed on campus for New Student Orientation. On the second day of NSO, they got a preview of the college seminar experience in “mock classroom” session, where they completed reading comprehension self-assessments and discussed the book with peers and faculty.

Why Not Read Now? is designed to inspire Southern freshmen, faculty, staff, and students to open their minds by opening a common book over the summer and getting prepared to come back in the fall ready to think about it, write about it, talk about it, and listen to what others have to say about it.

About Why Not Read Now? Southern Reads

After NSO, students took This I Believe home to finish reading and continue to “reflect on the fundamental values that guide their lives,” before returning to campus to begin classes in September.

For most first-year students, those classes included Inquiry, part of SCSU’s Liberal Education curriculum. Part learning community, part college transition workshop, part composition course, Inquiry brings students together in groups of about 20—an instant network of peers. Faculty from a variety of academic departments teach two complementary seminars: Critical Thinking and INQ 101: Introduction to Intellectual and Creative Inquiry.

scsu student this i believe tee copy

Students created custom “I believe…” statement t-shirts! (via SCSU FYE on Facebook)

Critical Thinking “helps prepare students to identify problems and to think effectively about their solutions . . . These skills are necessary for active learning and independent thinking; they are also essential for academic success and good decision-making in students’ personal, professional and public lives.”

In INQ 101, students focus “on essentials like reading, writing, thinking, research and inquiry skills, and frameworks for building an academic habit of mind—in other words, thinking like a college student.” Here, they’ll have opportunities to think, speak, and write about This I Believe and about their own beliefs and values.

Beyond the classroom, SCSU recognized and celebrated beliefs and values with a campus visit and book discussions by This I Believe co-editor Dan Gediman, a lecture series featuring campus leaders from the student body and the SCSU faculty, and an art exhibition in honor of the university’s new President.

Several university offices sponsored a This I Believe essay contest and accepted entries in four categories: first-year students, returning students graduate students, and faculty and staff. Meanwhile, the university held open Creative Writing Workshops for anyone working on an essay for the contest. In December, the winners read their essays for a standing room only audience on campus!

Click here to read about some of the other schools that have adopted This I Believe or This I Believe II for common reading programs!

This I Believe • Picador • 320 pages

The Barbarian Nurseries is the 2012 First-Year Summer Reading Book at Pomona College

This summer, the Pomona College class of 2016 is reading Héctor Tobar’s contemporary novel, The Barbarian NurseriesIncoming students will receive a copy of from the college and read it over the summer.

The book, winner of the California Book Award for Fiction, is about a Mexican maid working for a Mexican-American family in a Los Angeles villa who witnesses tensions between her married employers rise to the breaking point, and then finds herself left alone in the house with their two sons. The author weaves issues like immigration, racial and class divides, and social and familial conflict into a character-driven story that’s set just miles from Pomona’s campus, but is relevant across the U.S.

Héctor Tobar will visit campus to speak and to meet students during orientation in the fall. Faculty will also lead small group discussions among the newest members of the Pomona community, and “there will be many opportunities to share [their] thoughts, reflections, and ideas about the book” with other faculty, staff, and students leaders in Sponsor and Peer Mentor roles, who will have read it, too.

The Barbarian Nurseries will also be assigned reading in select Fall 2012 courses, especially Critical Inquiry First-Year Seminars. The Critical Inquiry curriculum offers writing intensive courses on a range of interdisciplinary topics. The goal is to “prepare students to participate fully and successfully in the intellectual community that is Pomona College.”

Each year, the First-Year Book is selected by an Orientation Committee served by college faculty and three Pomona students under the direction of the Dean of Student and the Coordinator of the Critical Inquiry Seminar Program. In 2010, the committee chose Pierre Bayard’s How to Talk About Books You Haven’t Read for the summer reading program. The Barbarian Nurseries is the second novel that the school has selected, following last year’s adoption of Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go (Vintage, 2006). To read about other fictional works from Macmillan that have been adopted for common reading programs, click here.

The Barbarian Nurseries • Farrar, Straus & Giroux • 432 pages

Picking Cotton is the 2012 Summer Reading Book at Wheelock College

Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton’s Picking Cotton: Our Memoir of Injustice and Redemption is the 2012 Summer Reading Program pick at Wheelock College!

Each incoming first-year student will receive a copy of the book from the college this summer. During orientation in the fall, new students will discuss the book in small groups, led by volunteer faculty and staff members.

Each year, the Summer Reading book is selected by a committee of Wheelock faculty and staff members. The committee evaluates potential titles according to three principles: “alignment with Wheelock’s mission, balance between intellectual merit and accessibility, and connection to the transformative first-year college experience. Picking Cotton stands out in all three categories.”

For more information about Picking Cotton and 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

This I Believe is the Summer Reading Book at Seton Hall University

Seton Hall University has selected This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women for the 2012 Summer Reading Program! First-year students will pick up copies of the book at the campus bookstore when they attend summer orientation sessions in June.

When they return to campus in the fall, new freshmen will use the book in two introductory courses: Engl 1201: Core English I and Core 1001: University Life. Core English I is First Year Writing course that emphasizes “the writing and reading processes of expository and persuasive rhetoric/argument,” including research, pre-writing, revising, and grammar, mechanics, and vocabulary. As part of the course requirements, Core English students take advantage of academic resources on campus, including one-on-one sessions with peer tutors and the university’s Writing Center.

University Life is a Freshman Studies seminar that “aims to provide students with academic and personal success; integrate computer technology into academic instruction; familiarize students with University resources and opportunities; improve reading, writing, and analytical skills and support the University mission of “forming students to be servant leaders in a global society.” Components of the course include classroom discussions and activities, creating an online writing portfolio, attendance at multi-cultural and interdisciplinary events on campus, community service, and participation in a university club or organization.

Click here to read about some of the other schools that have adopted This I Believe or This I Believe II for common reading programs!

This I Believe • Holt Paperbacks • 320 pages

St. John’s University’s 2011 Summer Reading Pick is Sandel’s Justice

Michael J. Sandel’s Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? is the 2011 Summer Reading selection at St. John’s University. All first-year students received a copy of the book from the university in July and read it over the summer.

This year, Justice will be a central text in SJU’s Discover New York curriculum. A course unique to St. John’s University, Discover New York welcomes students to both the university and the New York City communities with “an introduction to [the city] through the lens of a particular subject discipline. It focuses on the themes of immigration, race/ethnicity, religion, wealth and poverty, and the environment.” Discover New York combines many of the same classroom experiences as a traditional student success or college orientation course (writing, critical thinking, accessing information with different types of media, etc.) with dynamic firsthand experiences throughout New York City.

The university developed a comprehensive guide to teaching the book, incorporating information about primary resources, key terms and phrases, and some approaches to teaching the book from rhetorical, philosophical, cultural, national and international perspectives.

Justice will be the topic of several book discussions held throughout the fall and spring semesters. Additionally, the annual research competition sponsored by the St. John’s University Libraries and The Friends of the Library carried a related theme: Social Justice in the Real World. The competition is open to all undergraduates at SJU.

Previous summer reading books at St. John’s include Triangle, Katharine Weber’s novel based on the devastating fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City in 1911.

Justice • Farrar, Straus & Giroux Paperbacks • 320 pages