SHSU Common Reader 2020

About the Common Reader Program

The SHSU Common Reader program provides all interested SHSU students with the annually selected book. First-year students receive their copy as a summer reading assignment during orientation sessions. Faculty and staff develop and present scholarly dialogues about complex subjects through coursework and events, including the annual Essay Contest. 

The mission of the SHSU Common Reading Program is to create a shared academic/intellectual experience, facilitate a campus-wide cross-disciplinary conversation, and enhance the community with students, faculty, and staff.

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About The Book


Kirkus Reviews
Heartfelt essays from vibrant American voices 

"Actor and activist Ferrera makes her book debut as editor of this collection of spunky, fresh, and often moving personal essays responding to the question: What do I call an American like me? Because she grew up believing she was “alone in feeling stuck between cultures,” Ferrera sees the book as a way to foster a sense of belonging as well as to celebrate difference." 

Booklist (Starred Review) 
Book Review 

"For this beautifully woven collection of memoir essays, actress and activist Ferrera called on dozens of famous Americans to share their experiences of living in the U.S. with more than one cultural, racial, ethnic, or national identity."

Publishers Weekly
American Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures

"Ferrera, known for playing the title character on the sitcom Ugly Betty, opens this essay collection with a conversational and honest account of growing up with conflicting messages as the American-born child of immigrant parents. It’s a theme that runs throughout the following pieces, which are brief snapshots of those moments in which 32 actors, politicians, writers, athletes, filmmakers, musicians, and activists recognized how they occupied a space between different cultures."

Latino Book Review 
Book Review

"Ferrera has provided the public with a service by compiling these stories and using her celebrity to amplify these voices. Together, this anthology makes for an important narrative of humanizing each other through storytelling during a time when anti-immigrant rhetoric is vitriolic and dangerous. The book also takes a look at identity and how being an American is much more nuanced than what is portrayed in popular culture. Not all essays provide riveting anecdotes, but readers will be surprised to hear familiar parts of other’s stories and take joy in the differences. Activists, actors, singers, athletes, writers, and politicians contribute to make for a compelling read."

USA Today Review
Book Review

"One of the most engrossing pieces is "Sour Heart author Jenny Zhang's blunt take on food and culture. For Zhang and her family, who managed to eat so decadently on a fraction of the income our white counterparts ranked in, the so-called American dream of assimilation tasted terrible. Throughout against racist and xenophobic forces with ease, illustrating complexities through her family's visits to a cheap, all-you-can-eat American buffet restaurant called Sizzler. Ferrera's essay collection is filled with gems like these- first person accounts made distinct with each author's individual voice. From some of the biggest stars in art and entertainment come funny, touching, and complicated reminders that the word "American" is wonderfully and endlessly undefinable."

From the Publisher

From award-winning actress and political activist America Ferrera comes a vibrant and varied collection of first-person accounts from prominent figures about the experience of growing up between cultures.

Ranging from the heartfelt to the hilarious, their stories shine a light on a quintessentially American experience and will appeal to anyone with a complicated relationship to family, culture, and growing up.

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