2018 Common Reading Program
The Common Reading Program is a chance for every new student to start PLU with a shared academic experience. The 2018 Common Reading Book is Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates. Alumni are invited to follow along and take part in the upcoming events associated with the Common Reading.
How the book was chosen:
The Common Reading Selection Committee gathers faculty, staff, and students from across campus, all of whom together seek out books with themes that will allow students and faculty to have academic discussion from a variety of disciplinary lenses. The committee has a particular interest in finding books that speak to themes of diversity, social justice, sustainability, and/or ideas of difference. It was decided to continue to focus on issues of race and inclusion in concert with PLU’s commitment to Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability. In light of the current national political climate, we decided that this was not the time to pull back but instead to press forward with the university’s ongoing commitment to campus wide conversations on race and social justice.
For both the 2017 and 2018 Common Reading book, “Between the World and Me” by Ta-Nehisi Coates was chosen. “Between the World and Me” is unquestionably a standoutwork of literature that is complex and lyrical in nature. The committee would like to uplift and highlight the following themes in Between the World and Me: (1) how cultural frameworks create and define race, (2) the transformative power of a sense of belonging and deep connection to a community, (3) the power of narrative to create social change, (4) family relationships and their influence on a person growing into adulthood.
It is also at times a difficult book that challenges deeply held beliefs across the political spectrum. Students and faculty both rose to the challenge so completely that 2017 showed the highest engagement with a Common Reading text to date. That engagement sparked a continued interest in the faculty at large, and so we have returned to “Between the World and Me” for 2018.