Monday, July 15, 2019

Summer Reading For The College Class of 2023

Most colleges and universities have a summer reading program.  A faculty member or high-ranking administrator typically selects three books (or more) and sends them to every first-year and transfer student.  When they arrive on campus for orientation week, they discuss the readings with fellow students, faculty, and sometimes the authors of the books.

The books that follow are one prominent university’s selections for the past 16 years:

2019:  Tommy Orange, There There; Cary McClelland, Silicon City: San Francisco in the Long Shadow of the Valley; Multiple authors, edited by Toni L Griffin, Ariella Cohen, David Maddox, The Just City Essays: 26 Visions for Urban Equity, Inclusion and Opportunity,

2018:  Chang-rae Lee, Native Speaker; Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I'm Dying; Yuri Herrera, Signs Preceding the End of the World

2017:  Yaa Gyasi, Homegoing; Elizabeth Kolbert, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History; Jesmyn Ward, Salvage the Bones

2016:  NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names; Rebecca Solnit, A Paradise Built in Hell; Justin Torres, We the Animals

2015:  Walter Isaacson, The Innovators; Tobias Wolff, This Boy’s Life; Lalita Tademy, Cane River

2014:  Ruth Ozeki, My Year of Meats; Richard A. Muller, Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines; Lauren Redniss, Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout

2013:  Arlie Russell Hochschild, The Outsourced Self; Chad Harbach, The Art of Fielding; Loung Ung, First They Killed My Father

2012:  Michael Kimmelman, “My Kid Could Paint That” video; Chuck Klosterman, Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota; Ge Wang, Smule app

2011:  Geraldine Brooks, March; Stephen Carter, The Violence of Peace: America’s Wars in the Age of Obama; Nathaniel Fick, One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer

2010:  Anne Fadiman, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down; Tracy Kidder, Strength in What Remains; Joyce Carol Oates, The Undesirable Table (From the collection “Will You Always Love Me?”)

2009:  Lan Samantha Chang, Hunger; Malcolm Gladwell, Outlier; Abraham Verghese, My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story

2008:  Lynda Barry, One Hundred Demons; Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao; ZZ Packer, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere

2007:  Lucille Clifton, Good Woman; N. Scott Momaday, The Way to Rainy Mountain; Nancy Packer, Jealous Hearted Me

2006:  Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains; Julie Orringer, How to Breathe Underwater; Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner

2005:  David Henry Hwang, M Butterfly; Jamaica Kincaid, Annie John; Tobias Wolff, Old School

2004:  Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex; Richard Rodriguez, Brown; Danzy Senna, Caucasia

Is there a pattern in the selection of books for summer reading.  To find out, I read the description of each book on  Ten books were a politically or ideologically neutral presentation of a specific topic.  Four books were an individual or family story bereft of ideology or politics.

The other 34 books were politically and/or ideologically left-liberal in outlook.  Not a single one of the 34 books was politically or ideologically right-conservative in outlook.

Let me repeat that.  Not a single book was politically or ideologically conservative in 16 years of summer reading at this prominent university.  Not one.  First-year student orientation is really student indoctrination.

The highest officials at this university claim that diversity of political beliefs is as important as diversity of skin color, gender, sex, religion, etc. in achieving a wide expression of values and ideas in higher education.

I’m from Missouri, the “show me” state.  It’s easy to talk the talk of diversity of political belief.  So far, it’s hard to see any.  Sixteen orientations have not included a conservative book for discussion during orientation week.

PS.  I encourage interested readers to examine reviews and summaries of the 48 books to find one with an explicitly conservative theme.  Please post any you find in the comments section.

PSS.  I did not name the university or its faculty and administrators that selected the books for reading.  An analysis of most elite schools would yield similar results.  Please post in the comments any conservative books you found in an any elite university’s summer reading program.


David R. Henderson said...


Lee Bailey said...

Not in ANY WAY a suprise. One would have to be living in the Mayan Underworld Gate Cave for the last 50 years to be shocked at all.