Office of Undergraduate Education WSU Common Reading

Common Reading Program

Common Reading 2015/16 Announced

Just Mercy

WSU’s 2015-16 Common Reading book is Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, by Bryan Stevenson. A limited number of examination copies are available to Pullman faculty; links to the online request form and to the teacher’s guide are below.

Provost and Executive Vice President Daniel J. Bernardo announced his selection April 9, 2015, commenting he found the book to be “well written and authored by someone who will certainly continue to be a relevant figure in the social justice space for years to come.” The Common Reading Selection Committee had provided three books to the Provost for consideration, and extends thanks to all who submitted nominations.

Pullman students in first-year and other courses will use the Just Mercy throughout the coming academic year.  Topics from it are raised in classes, guest lectures, and outside programming to inspire academic discussions between and among students and faculty across the disciplines.

A LIMITED NUMBER OF EXAMINATION COPIES ARE AVAILABLE TO FACULTY CONSIDERING THE BOOK FOR FALL 2015 CLASSES IN PULLMAN. SUBMIT A REQUEST USING THE ONLINE FORM AT . A TEACHER’S GUIDE TO USING THE BOOK IS AT at .  Contact Co-Director Karen Weathermon by email at with any questions, or if you have suggestions for programming around Just Mercy.

“We are all implicated when we allow other people to be mistreated. An absence of compassion can corrupt the decency of a community…I believe it’s necessary to recognize that we all need mercy, we all need justice, and – perhaps – we all need some measure of unmerited grace.” – Bryan Stevenson

 About the author and book

Published in October 2014 by Spiegel & Grau, an imprint of Random House, the book is nonfiction and written in first person by Stevenson. He is an attorney who, the book jacket says, has “won relief for dozens of condemned prisoners, argued five times before the U.S. Supreme Court, and won national acclaim for his work challenging bias against the poor and people of color.” He has argued cases to keep children our of adult jails and prisons. Many of his cases are profiled in Just Mercy. Stevenson has been has been described by South African social rights activist Desmond Tutu as “America’s young Nelson Mandela” and likened by author John Grisham to Atticus Finch, the heroic fictional lawyer in Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird classic American novel.

In Just Mercy, Stevenson calls for compassion in the pursuit of justice.  “My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth…[it] is justice,” he writes.

Just Mercy is the ninth Common Reading book in as many years on the Pullman campus.



What’s New?

Examination copies available to Pullman faculty

Thinking about using Just Mercy in a fall Pullman class? A limited number of examination copies are available; an online request form is required.

Teacher’s guide for Just Mercy

The teacher’s guide to using this year’s Common Reading book is available online.

Check the Common Reading calendar often for information about upcoming faculty and guest expert presentations at Common Reading Tuesdays events, as well as a wide variety of programming related to topics in Just Mercy.


What is a Common Reading?

Topics from a single, carefully selected book for freshmen are featured in first-year and other classes in disciplines across the university, and in special events and presentations. Having a shared source for such topics provides a common ground for students and their professors, and stimulates discussions and learning.  The same topics also lend themselves to presentations in a lecture series, and to discussions between students and faculty within and beyond classrooms.