What better way to connect new students than through a common book? Each year, a faculty committee selects a new Common Reading book for the fall semester. Students will receive their books at Orientation. They should read the book throughout the summer, and be ready to discuss it upon Move-in Day. The book is then incorporated into First Year Colloquium and Writing Seminar courses.
A Common Reading experience is often seen as a great way for new students to embark upon the intellectual challenges of the college experience. At Hiram College, we select a Common Reading book that is in line with the year’s ethics theme.
2015-2016 Theme: Borders
Borders is the annual ethics theme for 2015-16, and “Into the Beautiful North” by Luis Alberto Urrea is the Common Reading novel.
Nayeli is a nineteen-year-old girl coming of age in the sleepy Mexican village of Tres Camarones, more than 1,000 miles south of the U.S. border. She and her friends spend their days working at low-wage jobs and surfing the Internet for videos of their favorite bands and movie stars, dreaming of a wider world they have little hope of knowing. Nearly all of the men of the village, including Nayeli’s father, have gone north to the U.S. to find work, and drug-dealing thugs have recently begun to target the village, anxious to profit from drug-buying American surfers who frequent the nearby beaches. Inspired by the film “The Magnificent Seven”, Nayeli vows to go on a mission to the U.S. to bring back seven men — including her father — to defend Tres Camarones against the drug-dealing bandidos. She persuades her loyal band of friends to accompany her on the dangerous journey, and the quest begins. Lacking influence, money or power, Nayeli and her friends employ ingenuity, youthfulness and hope to overcome obstacles, suggesting that a new generation can bring new solutions to old problems. Urrea cleverly subverts cultural stereotypes and literary traditions, creating a fresh approach to the classic hero’s journey.