Learning Resource Center

Butler University Common Reading Program

The 2014 common reading is Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps.  StoryCorps founder, Dave Isay, draws from ten years of the revolutionary oral history project's rich archives, collecting conversations that celebrate the power of the human bond and capture the moment at which individuals become family. 

What is a Common Reading program?

Common reading initiatives are wide-spread and considered a best practice in First Year Experience programming. Generally the purpose is "to provide a common academic experience for all first-year students and to strengthen the academic atmosphere of the institution from the first day the student arrives on campus" (Patterson, 2002, p.8).  A common reading is an opportunity to "intellectualize" orientation through a shared experience of all first-year students and with participating faculty. The opportunity enhances academic transition by providing a base from which students can engage with faculty in conversations about what is expected in college-level academic work, what constitutes scholarly behavior, and what the campus community considers important.

Patterson, L. (2002). New ideas in first-year reading programs from around the country. First-Year Experience Newsletter (FYE), 14(3), 8-9.

 At Butler University, the following priorities are considered when choosing a book:

  • Readability and potential for engaging students
  • Relevance to current social, global, and/or local community issues
  • Appeal to wide range of students
  • Interdisciplinary; raises interesting issues for discussion in a variety of courses
  • Possibilities for campus-wide programming

The Common Reading on Campus

The Common Reading program is a campus-wide initiative, involving all colleges of the university. A committee of faculty representatives, as well as Academic Affairs, Student Life, and the library, is convened annually to solicit submissions of book suggestions, read and review the books, and select the Common Reading text for use during the next academic year.  In addition, student readers review the short list of books and provide a student-centered perspective on the selections.  Many thanks to those faculty, staff, and students who gave their time and expertise to the Common Reading program.

The committee welcomes submissions of suggested books from students, faculty, and staff.  If you are interested in serving on the Common Reading Committee, or are a student who would like to serve as a reader, please contact the Learning Resource Center.

Past books have included:

Outcases UnitedWelcome Week 2012 and 2013

Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman's Quest to Make a Difference by Warren St. John

Originally a series in The New York Times, the book is a story of multiple aspects: refugees, small-town struggles, Southern attitudes, individual determination and cross-cultural (mis)understanding.  All of these elements come together in a jubilant tale of a soccer team and its season that challenged and changed a community forever.

The team at the heart of the book, the Fugees, was a team that was comprised entirely of refugees (thus, the 'fugees) from nations as far-flung as Afghanistan, Liberia and Sudan.  The players, recruited through fliers printed in multiple languages and posted at apartment buildings, community stores and other locations that had a high refugee population, were young boys who had experienced horrors that no child should witness.  One had witnessed his father's brutal death while another was forced to kill his best friend.  But just as these children bore witness to the cruelty of life, they also were a testament to life's pure joys: being part of a team, winning at competition, and befriending others.  Luma's coaching, while tough, prepared the Fugees for both success and disappointment.  Through all of the highs and lows of the season, the Fugees - and Luma- were "powered by simple but enduring ideas: a sense of fairness, love, forgiveness, and most of all, a willingness to work - to engage in the process of turning these simple notions into actions that could affect others" (Outcasts United, p. 299). 

Welcome Week 2011

Farm City: The Education of an Urban FarmerFarm City Cover by Novella Carpenter

Novella Carpenter is determined to have both the city and a homegrown vegetable plot at the same time. After she and her boyfriend move to the inner city of Oakland, California, they begin creating their dream urban farm.

The couple first begins by planting vegetables in the abandoned lot next door to their duplex. Next, they bring in egg-laying chickens, bees, turkeys, geese, and ducks. Eventually rabbits and a couple of 300-pound pigs are also added to the urban farm. And this isn't some kind of urban petting zoo: Novella is raising these animals to become her dinner.

In this story, Novella recounts the challenges, joys, and hilariousness of running an urban farm. She writes about her inner-city neighborhood and reveals how a community can come together and the impact of food availability has on the health of people as well as communities. The book helps us understand more about the many resources we all have available to us, and dispenses a few farming tips along the way. Finally, the story helps us all think about our passions and the struggles and triumphs that sometimes come along with following those dreams.

Welcome Week 2010

A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future by Daniel Pink

A Whole New Mind Cover

  • New York Times bestseller
  • BusinessWeek bestseller
  • Wall Street Journal bestseller
  • Washington Post bestseller

Lawyers. Accountants. Computer programmers. That's what our parents encouraged us to become when we grew up. But Mom and Dad were wrong. The future belongs to a very different kind of person with a very different kind of mind. The era of "left brain" dominance, and the Information Age that it engendered, are giving way to a new world in which "right brain" qualities-inventiveness, empathy, meaning-predominate. That's the argument at the center of this provocative and original book, which uses the two sides of our brains as a metaphor for understanding the contours of our times.

In this insightful and entertaining book, which has been translated into 20 languages, Daniel H. Pink offers a fresh look at what it takes to excel. A Whole New Mind reveals the six essential aptitudes on which professional success and personal fulfillment now depend, and includes a series of hands-on exercises culled from experts around the world to help readers sharpen the necessary abilities. This book changes not only how we see the world but how we experience it as well.