What is the Common Reading Initiative?
The First-Year Common Reading Initiative (CRI) is a program for first-year students new to the University. Students are asked to read a common book the summer before their entry into the University. The CRI was implemented on the Troy Campus of Troy University during Fall Semester 2007. The goals of the initiative for first-year students are to promote reading and discussion, foster integrated learning, support classroom instruction, and encourage participation in campus, civic, and service-learning activities.
Initiative Outcomes for the Common Reading Initiative
- First-Year students will read the CRI book selected annually.
- First-Year students will participate in discussion groups (face to face and electronic) regarding the CRI selection.
- Faculty and staff will participate as group leaders for the discussion groups regarding the CRI selection.
- Faculty and staff will report satisfaction or satisfaction-plus with their involvement as group leaders in the discussion groups regarding the CRI selection.
- Faculty will choose to use the CRI selection in courses other than TROY 1101, especially General Studies courses.
- Faculty and students will participate annually in CRI-related activities beyond the discussion groups and academic classes (such as TROY 1101).
- The Common Reading Initiative will support the six QEP learning outcomes.
Please return the completed form to:
Hal Fulmer, Dean
101 Eldridge Hall
2013 – 2014
To the Last Breath is a work by Georgetown physics professor Francis Slakey detailing
his adventures climbing the highest mountain on every continent and surfing in every
ocean. This “surf and turf” adventure began as simply a way to pass time and amuse
himself. Ensuing events, however, cause Slakey, who describes himself in the beginning
as isolated and cold, to examine himself and his approach to life; he learns that
the world is interconnected, that we are all involved with each other in one way or
another, whether we know it or not. As a result of his about-face, he has established
the Georgetown Program on Science in the Public Interest, a program that helps students
identify problems in the world and then join with students in other disciplines to
help solve those problems. At least for Slakey, we are indeed our brother’s keeper.
2012 – 2013
The Ghost Map is the chilling story of urban terror, but it is also a story of how
scientific understanding can advance in the most hostile of environments. In a triumph
of dynamic, multidisciplinary thinking, Steven Johnson examines the epidemic from
the microbial level to the human level to the urban level. Brilliantly illuminating
the intertwined histories of the spread of disease, the rise of cities, and the nature
of scientific inquiry, Johnson presents both vivid history and a powerful, provocative
explanation of how it has shaped the world we live in.
2011 – 2012
In his first novel in more than a decade, award-winning author David Malouf remakes
the pivotal narrative of Homer's Iliad—one of the most famous passages in all of literature.
This is the story of the relationship between two grieving men at war: fierce Achilles,
who has lost his beloved Patroclus in the siege of Troy; and woeful Priam, whose son
Hector killed Patroclus and was in turn savaged by Achilles. A moving tale of suffering,
sorrow, and redemption, Ransom is incandescent in its delicate and powerful lyricism
and its unstated imperative that we imagine our lives in the glow of fellow feeling.
2010 – 2011
Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus, a classic by Mary Shelley, was selected as
the 2010–2011 common reader. As noted by Dr. Ben Roberson, the Troy University English
professor who recommended the book, Frankenstein "deals with a normal human fear about
what happens when science potentially goes too far. Victor has power over life and
death, but the life he creates then tries to destroy him. The idea can relate to cloning
and other genetic manipulation, computer networks and their impact, and even plastic
surgery and its effects."
2009 – 2010
Janisse Ray's Ecology of a Cracker Childhood was chosen for the 2009–2010 AY. Ray's
book is the first nonfiction book chosen for TROY's reading initiative. Recounting
Ray's experiences of growing up in a junkyard off U.S. Highway 1, the book interweaves
family history and memoir with natural history writing, in particular descriptions
of the ecology of the vanishing longleaf pine forests that once covered the South.
Ray's colloquial, elegiac, and informative language enhances the book's appeal. The
book won the American Book Award, the Southern Book Critics Circle Award, and the
Southern Environmental Law Center Award for Outstanding Writing on the Southern environment.
2008 – 2009
The 2008–2009 common book, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, was selected
in early April 2008. The Dean of First-Year Studies, on behalf of the selection committee,
presented a written justification and a copy of the book to the Chancellor, Executive
Vice Chancellor/Provost, members of the First-Year Advisory Board, and other faculty
and staff. An announcement was sent to the University Community. Feedback from the
community was very positive. Campus-wide discussion groups gave new freshmen the opportunity
to met their classmates, interact with a faculty or staff member, and discuss their
experience with the book. Other activities included a theater production of A Lesson
Before Dying and an essay contest. Several faculty members incorporated the novel
into their coursework.
2007 – 2008
The Road by Cormac McCarthy was chosen as the inaugural book for the CRI. All new first-year students were asked to read the book before the start of classes on August 15, 2007. At the annual training seminar for instructors of the freshman orientation course, TROY 1101, an English professor discussed possible topics for discussion of The Road. The seminar was open to faculty, staff, and students. It was decided that students would receive credit through the orientation class for participating in activities related to the book. At each discussion session and the panel discussion, attendance cards were handed out to students to present to their orientation instructor. Some orientation classes followed up with further discussion of the book, and first-year courses in English, history, and biology integrated the book into the coursework.