Last summer, we looked at schools with Common Reading Programs, where institutions assign or recommend titles for students and instructors to read over the summer, so that they can come together to discuss the book as a community in the fall.
Believe it or not (I don't), but summer is here again, and so are these reading programs. While several schools have already announced their picks, there's still no way to tell which books will be the most common (pun intended) choice.
While some common reading programs include the entire student body, many of them are aimed specifically at students entering their first year of college. This gives incoming students the opportunity to share something with their instructors and peers before they step on campus, and provides them with a taste of what they can expect from their institution over the course (pun not intended) of their studies.
So, for those of you still deliberating on your common reading choices, or those of you who simply want more reading recommendations, take a look at the Macmillan catalog on Books for the First-Year Experience. These critically-acclaimed books are ideal for the first-year experience: they're accessible and challenging, timely and classic, broadly appealing, stimulating, and moving. They foster individual growth while also inviting campus-wide discussion. Overall, a perfect summer reading for an incoming student who wants to start their first year on the right page (last pun, promise!).
Here are some examples of books featured on Macmillan's Books for the First-Year Experience Catalog:
In 1985, Anthony Rae Hinton was arrested and charged with two counts of capital murder in Alabama. Stunned, confused, and only twenty-nine years old, Hinton knew that it was a case of mistaken identity and believed that the truth would prove his innocence and ultimately set him free. But with an incompetent defense attorney and a different system of justice for a poor black man in the South, Hinton was sentenced to death by electrocution. He spent his first three years on Death Row at Holman State Prison in despairing silence—angry and full of hatred for all those who had sent an innocent man to his death. But as Hinton realized and accepted his fate, he resolved not only to survive, but to find a way to live on Death Row. For the next twenty-seven years he was a beacon—transforming not only his own spirit, but those of his fellow inmates, fifty-four of whom were executed mere feet from his cell. With the help of civil rights attorney and bestselling author of , Bryan Stevenson, Hinton won his release in 2015. With a foreword by Stevenson, is an extraordinary testament to the power of hope sustained through the darkest times. Hinton’s memoir tells his dramatic thirty-year journey and shows how you can take away a man’s freedom, but you can’t take away his imagination, humor, or joy.
spent nearly thirty years on death row for crimes he did not commit. Released in April 2015, Hinton now speaks widely on prison reform and the power of faith and forgiveness. He lives in Alabama. Check out his chat with Oprah about his book on her Facebook page here.
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming birth, injury, and infectious disease from harrowing to manageable. But in the inevitable condition of aging and death, the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Gawande, a practicing surgeon, addresses his profession’s ultimate limitation, arguing that quality of life is the desired goal for patients and families. Gawande offers examples of freer, more socially fulfilling models for assisting the infirm and dependent elderly, and he explores the varieties of hospice care to demonstrate that a person’s last weeks or months may be rich and dignified. Nursing homes, preoccupied with safety, pin patients into railed beds and wheelchairs. Hospitals isolate the dying, checking for vital signs long after the goals of cure have become moot. Doctors, committed to extending life, continue to carry out devastating procedures that in the end extend suffering. asserts that medicine can comfort and enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.