About the Common Reader Program
Past Common Reader Books
Educated: A Memoir by
Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home.
"Beautiful and propulsive . . . Despite the singularity of [Tara Westover's] childhood, the questions her book poses are universal: How much of ourselves should we give to those we love? And how much must we betray them to grow up?"--Vogue
"Westover has somehow managed not only to capture her unsurpassably exceptional upbringing, but to make her current situation seem not so exceptional at all, and resonant for many others."
--The New York Times Book Review
What Unites Us by
At a moment of crisis over our national identity, Dan Rather has been reflecting--and writing passionately almost every day on social media--about the world we live in, what our core ideals have been and should be, and what it means to be an American. Now, in a collection of wholly original essays, the venerated television journalist celebrates what matters most in the United States.
The Good Food Revolution by
Call Number: S494.5 .U72 A45 2012
A pioneering urban farmer and MacArthur "Genius Award" winner points the way to building a new food system that can feed--and heal--broken communities. The son of a sharecropper, Will Allen had no intention of ever becoming a farmer himself. But after years in professional basketball and as an executive for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Procter & Gamble, Allen cashed in his retirement fund for a two-acre plot a half mile away from Milwaukee's largest public housing project. The area was a food desert with only convenience stores and fast-food restaurants to serve the needs of local residents. In the face of financial challenges and daunting odds, Allen built the country's preeminent urban farm--a food and educational center that now produces enough vegetables and fish year-round to feed thousands of people. Employing young people from the neighboring housing project and community, Growing Power has sought to prove that local food systems can help troubled youths, dismantle racism, create jobs, bring urban and rural communities closer together, and improve public health. Today, Allen's organization helps develop community food systems across the country. An eco-classic in the making, The Good Food Revolution is the story of Will's personal journey, the lives he has touched, and a grassroots movement that is changing the way our nation eats.
An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by
Call Number: TL789.85 .H34 A3 2013
Colonel Chris Hadfield has spent decades training as an astronaut and has logged nearly 4000 hours in space. During this time he has broken into a Space Station with a Swiss army knife, disposed of a live snake while piloting a plane, and been temporarily blinded while clinging to the exterior of an orbiting spacecraft. The secret to Col. Hadfield's success-and survival-is an unconventional philosophy he learned at NASA: prepare for the worst- and enjoy every moment of it. In An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth, Col. Hadfield takes readers deep into his years of training and space exploration to show how to make the impossible possible. Through eye-opening, entertaining stories filled with the adrenaline of launch, the mesmerizing wonder of spacewalks, and the measured, calm responses mandated by crises, he explains how conventional wisdom can get in the way of achievement-and happiness. His own extraordinary education in space has taught him some counterintuitive lessons: don't visualize success, do care what others think, and always sweat the small stuff. You might never be able to build a robot, pilot a spacecraft, make a music video or perform basic surgery in zero gravity like Col. Hadfield. But his vivid and refreshing insights will teach you how to think like an astronaut, and will change, completely, the way you view life on Earth-especially your own.
Enrique's Journey by
Call Number: E184 .H66 N397 2014
An astonishing story that puts a human face on the ongoing debate about immigration reform in the United States, now updated with a new Epilogue and Afterword, photos of Enrique and his family, an author interview, and more--the definitive edition of a classic of contemporary America Based on the Los Angeles Times newspaper series that won two Pulitzer Prizes, one for feature writing and another for feature photography, this page-turner about the power of family is a popular text in classrooms and a touchstone for communities across the country to engage in meaningful discussions about this essential American subject. Enrique's Journey recounts the unforgettable quest of a Honduran boy looking for his mother, eleven years after she is forced to leave her starving family to find work in the United States. Braving unimaginable peril, often clinging to the sides and tops of freight trains, Enrique travels through hostile worlds full of thugs, bandits, and corrupt cops. But he pushes forward, relying on his wit, courage, hope, and the kindness of strangers.
Ready Player One by
Call Number: PS3603 .L548 R43 2011b
A world at stake. A quest for the ultimate prize. Are you ready? In the year 2045, reality is an ugly place. The only time Wade Watts really feels alive is when he's jacked into the OASIS, a vast virtual world where most of humanity spends their days. When the eccentric creator of the OASIS dies, he leaves behind a series of fiendish puzzles, based on his obsession with the pop culture of decades past. Whoever is first to solve them will inherit his vast fortune--and control of the OASIS itself. Then Wade cracks the first clue. Suddenly he's beset by rivals who'll kill to take this prize. The race is on--and the only way to survive is to win.