Common Reading

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 on the first day of New Student Institute and will be an integral part of classwork during Institute class sessions. 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.

2016-2017 Ethics theme:  Race, Identity and Community

The Mellon Fellows have chosen Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me as a common reading for our incoming students in 2016. In conjunction with this, the ethics theme for next year will be Race, Identity and Community. Our hope is that as a community we will learn about ethical issues involving “race,” and think about the relationships between identity and community in the context of “race.”

Between the World and Me is both a memoir describing Ta-Nehisi Coates’ life and experiences and a powerful meditation on race as it is experienced in America today.

Written as a letter to his 15 year old son in response to the acquittal of the police officer who shot Michael Brown in Ferguson Missouri, Coates’ book is a memoir of growing up in West Baltimore, attending Howard University (“the Mecca”,) and his later life in New York and Paris. It explores the complicated relationships between identity and community, as it tells us the story of his evolving thoughts on race and what it means both as an individual trying to find their own path through the dangers and opportunities in the life of a member of racialized communities.

Coates’ book is also a rigorous examination of the idea and reality of “race” both as it has operated in American history and ideology and continues to operate in the contemporary experience of African-Americans.This experience fuels a powerful critique of America’s willful refusal to seriously engage with its ongoing history of “white supremacy,” and a moral call to recognize the effects of this history as it plays out in the tragedies of our times.

Between the World and Me was awarded the National Book Award in 2015 and has been widely hailed as one of the most important books of our times.

List of Previous Common Readings






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