Shepherd University’s Common Reading program is asking students, faculty, staff, parents, and members of local community to help select the book for the 2015-2016 school year. For eight years Shepherd has offered a Common Reading program where everyone is encouraged to read the same book; 2015–2016 will be the ninth.
“The Common Reading Program strives to provide a shared intellectual experience for students, faculty, staff, and the community,” said Shannon Holliday, program coordinator. “By reading and exploring the themes in one book over the course of an academic year, we are creating a sense of community, encouraging reading, fostering dialogue, promoting critical engagement of ideas, setting academic expectations, and introducing participants to diverse and thought-provoking concepts.”
There are five semi-final books under consideration for next year’s common reading. They are:
- My Beloved World, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s memoir about her childhood, education, and early life.
- Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other by Massachusetts Institute of Technology social scientist Sherry Turkle, which is based on nearly 15 years of research into how technology affects our emotional lives.
- The Circle, a novel by David Eggers about a young woman who feels lucky to get a job at the most powerful internet company in the world. Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times described the book as “a parable about the perils of life in a digital age in which our personal data is increasingly collected, sifted and monetized.”
- The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz, which won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. The book focuses on the life of a Dominican-American teenager growing up in New Jersey.
- A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki, a novel about the diary of an unhappy 16-year-old living in Tokyo ending up in the hands of a Japanese-American novelist after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami hit Japan.
The Common Reading program, which is supported by the Shepherd University Foundation, also sponsors a variety of activities throughout the academic year that are based on the theme of the book that’s chosen. Professors are encouraged to incorporate the book into their curriculum.
“The Common Reading continues to thrive as one of Shepherd’s most visible and unifying programs, bringing us all together for a common purpose and shared conversation,” Holliday said. “Active involvement from all members of both the campus and community make it an exciting, collaborative, and communal experience.”
PHOTO: All five books under consideration for next year are available at the Scarborough Library, Shepherd Bookstore, and Four Seasons Books in Shepherdstown, which is offering a 15 percent discount for those mentioning the program. Anyone can place a vote by going online to www.shepherd.edu/commonreading/ and following the link at the top of the page. Each person may only vote once. The book receiving the most votes by March 31 will be the next Common Reading selection.