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.

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.

It is anticipated that copies of Just Mercy will be available by the end of spring semester 2015 to faculty who are considering using Just Mercy in their classes and programming for next year.  More information on how to request a copy will be announced shortly.

“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?

WSU Common Reading Book for 2015-16 is Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson
Selected from three titles nominated by the Common Reading Selection Committee, Provost and Executive Vice President Daniel J. Bernardo said this book “addresses the important social issue of criminal justice and its interaction with racial discrimination in our country.”

Check the Common Reading calendar often for upcoming faculty and guest expert presentations at Common Reading Tuesdays events, as well as a wide variety of programs 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.