Common Read

Common Read Collage

The annual Common Read is designed to give students new to Mount Holyoke College their first intellectual dialogue based on a shared text. These 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, for instance — the Common Read sets the tone for the community. It helps collectively frame discussions for the upcoming academic year.

The Common Read was introduced in 2000 at Orientation. Current and prospective students, faculty, staff, alumnae and trustees are invited to participate.

Common Reads

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

Please see list of readings below.

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”

2010 food-related readings:

Temple Grandin
“Animals in Translation: Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior” (chapters 1 and 2)

Anna Lappé
“Doing Lunch,” The Nation, September 11, 2006.
“GMO Giant (Monsantopoly)” The Nation, September 11, 2006.
“There’s a Homegrown Way to Address Climate Change,” Seattle Post Intelligencer, March 12, 2008.

Michael Pollan
“Unhappy Meals,” The New York Times Magazine, January 28, 2007.

Peter Singer
“The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty” (section 1, pages 3-44)

Peter Singer and Jim Mason
“The Ethics of What We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter“ (Introduction)

Peter Singer,
“What Should a Billionaire Give — And What Should You?” The New York Times Magazine, December 17, 2006.