© 2020 WFAE
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations

Summer Reading For The College-Bound

College books 2017

Madison Catrett, 18, grew up in south Georgia — in a town about 30 miles from Tallahassee. Her high school was mostly white, Christian, and conservative — a place "where education is not as important as football," says Catrett.

She's bound for Duke University in the fall — and she's a little nervous to go somewhere new, somewhere so different from her hometown.

Luckily, she and other Duke freshmen have a built-in conversation starter: the reading they've all been assigned — Richard Blanco's Prince of Los Cocuyos.

"I'm excited about it. It gives us something extra to talk about — common ground we might not otherwise have," says Catrett.

And that's what many colleges and universities across the country are going for. Schools often call it their common reading program; some are just for freshmen, and for others, the entire campus or local community joins in.

Most "common reads" are contemporary nonfiction, with three-quarters published between 2010 and present, according to a report from the National Association of Scholars that examines choices offered at 348 schools in the U.S.

The NAS has been putting out this report since 2010 — and they haven't been too jazzed about the selections. The report labels the majority of titles "progressive," "parochial," and "mediocre," promoting "activism" and fitting a "narrow, predictable genre."

Not surprising, the report's author praises schools that opted for the unconventional (or classical) — like Florida College, which in 2016 assigned Pericles' Funeral Oration (431 BC).

Last year, just three books made up 15 percent of all common reading assignments: Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Ta-Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me, and Wes Moore's The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates.

What does the summer of 2017 have in store for college students? Here's a sampling.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

We Need Your Help Now More Than Ever

WFAE mask

Our newsroom is hard at work covering everything from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to the aftermath of the election, the race for a vaccine and our communities' fight to rebuild. But we can't do it without you. Support our local journalism with a donation of ANY amount, and we’ll send you a free WFAE member mask courtesy of AllDayMask.com of Monroe.