A collage of book covers

Common Read

The annual Common Read is designed to give students new to Mount Holyoke College their first intellectual dialogue based on a shared text. New students start to explore the selected text during Orientation and continue the discussion into their fall classes and throughout the year.

Open to the entire College community to read and discuss — staff on campus and alumnae groups across the country discuss the book — the Common Read sets the tone and frame discussions for the upcoming academic year.

Current and prospective students, faculty, staff, alums and trustees are invited to participate.

Campus Voices

The Common Read experience

Happening at Mount Holyoke

The Common Read in the news

Mount Holyoke College’s Common Read for fall of 2022 is “Braiding Sweetgrass.” “Braiding Sweetgrass” centers Indigenous knowledge as an alternative or complementary approach to mainstream scientific methodologies.

Mount Holyoke’s 2021 Common Read, “The Fire This Time,” is a collection of “thoughtful, searing, and, at times, hopeful” essays and poems about race.

Mount Holyoke College welcomes Martha Jones to discuss her book “Vanguard,” how Black women defied both racism and sexism to fight for the right to vote.

Common Read selections

Year Author Title
2022 Robin Wall Kimmerer “Braiding Sweetgrass
2021 Jesmyn Ward “The Fire This Time”  |  Library guide for “The Fire This Time
2020 The New York Times Magazine  “The 1619 Project
2019 Tommy Orange "There, There"
2018 Cristina Henriquez The Book of Unknown Americans
2017 Claudia Rankine Citizen: An American Lyric
2016 Ta-Nehisi Coates Between the World and Me
2015 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Americanah
2014 Piper Kerman “Orange is the New Black”
2013 Junot Díaz “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao”
2012 Jhumpa Lahiri “The Namesake”
2011 Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”
2010 List of readings
2009 Anne Fadiman “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures”
2008 Danzy Senna “Causasia”
2007 Elizabeth Kolbert “Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change”
2006 Tracy Kidder “Mountains Beyond Mountains”
2005 Ruth L. Ozeki “My Year of Meats”
2004 Azar Nafisi “Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books”
2003 Barbara Kingsolver “The Poisonwood Bible”
2002 Barbara Ehrenreich “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America”
2001 Julia Alvarez “How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents”


2000 Terry Tempest Williams “Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place”