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WSU Common Reading Book for 2013-14 is “Being Wrong” by Kathryn Schulz

PULLMAN, Wash.—The Washington State University Common Reading Program announces that the book selected for 2013-14 is “Being Wrong: Adventures in the Margin of Error,” by journalist Kathryn Schulz.

“We are quite pleased that President Floyd chose ‘Being Wrong’ as the next common reading for our students,” says Susan Poch, co-director of the Common Reading Program and head of the selection committee, and associate dean of the University College. “It is a most interesting inquiry into the multitude of subjects surrounding human errors and our perceptions of them.

“Our selection committee this year studied 30-plus books nominated by the WSU community and ultimately had a field of three finalists. Provost and Executive Vice President Warwick M. Bayly, who typically makes the final selection, was on leave at the time, so our president chose the book. We commend the nominators, the committee, and President Floyd for their efforts on behalf of our students.”  [http:/universitycollege.wsu.edu/units/CommonReading/nominations/]

Student Paula Tilson, serving on the selection committee, was enthusiastic about the book, which will be used in several courses for first-year students.

“It’s very readable for freshmen and I think they will want to read it,” says the junior accounting major from Olympia. “Coming in from high school, they will find they are expected to perform at a higher level in college and they think they have to be right all the time. But the sooner they learn there’s no way for them to be perfect all the time when it comes to academics, the better. This book will help them realize they can learn from their mistakes and build on that. And not to give up after being wrong but deal with it and work to improve.”

The other two finalist books are “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water,” by Charles Fisherman, and “Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight about Animals,” by Hal Herzog.

“Being Wrong” was nominated by Adam Williams, administrative manager in the Dept. of Entomology, who first heard it favorably cited by former U.S. President Bill Clinton. Upon learning it was chosen as WSU’s next common reading book, he said he was pleased and that it will stimulate critical thinking in readers.

What does he hope students get out of the book? “I’d like students’ take away to be that, for any number of reasons, it’s OK to be wrong and recover from it. It’s humbling sometimes, but a way to get grounded as they go on into the world.  I hope students view error differently from this book and use experiences as growing opportunities to promote open perspectives.”

Common Reading Co-Director Karen Weathermon organizes the Common Reading Tuesdays guest lecture series that provides information and insight from thought leaders and researchers from the WSU as well as the external community.  At weekly events, these experts present topics related to subjects raised in each year’s common reading book.  She also works with faculty who are teaching courses as part of the Freshman Focus learning community.

“’Being Wrong’ presents an interesting perspective on research, which is an important activity at our land-grant, top tier research university,” says Weathermon. “How we advance our understanding of all fields is by investigating the questions where we don’t have a full, complete, or ‘right’ answer.”

As in years past, desk copies of ‘Being Wrong’ will be available to Pullman faculty members who are considering using the book in with their courses, Weathermon says.  Those interested should contact her at kweathermon@wsu.edu for a copy.  They will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.


CONTACT: Susan Poch, Associate Dean and Co-Director of the Common Reading Program, University College at WSU, 509-335-6037, poch@wsu.edu

Karen Weathermon, Co-Director of the Common Reading Program, University College at WSU, 509-335-5488, kweathermon@wsu.edu

MEDIA: Beverly Makhani, Communications Director, University College at WSU, 509-335-6679, Makhani@wsu.edu