Common Reading book nominations for 2017-18 open through Nov. 1, 2016

If you’ve read a good book lately that relates to “frontiers of technology, health, and society,” you should consider nominating it to be the next common reading book used by thousands of first-year and other students at Washington State University.

An online form on the common reading website makes the process easy for nominators to enter valuable information for the selection committee to consider—notes about such things as what makes the book memorable and worthy of campus engagement, and whether the book connects to or highlights existing university research or activity.

“Through the Common Reading Program and the use of a single book across multiple disciplines, we are able to introduce students to topics and faculty that make WSU a leading research and land-grant university,” said Susan Poch, co-director of the program, chair of the selection committee, and assistant vice provost.

“The Common Reading Program provides numerous opportunities for our newest students to interact with exceptional faculty members, to improve their critical thinking and communication skills, and to make a multitude of connections between what they learn in classrooms and their personal and academic lives and futures.”

“That’s why we look to students, faculty, staff, and the community to nominate great books that stimulate important dialogues, and why the nomination process is vital not only to the program but to the learning opportunities we provide to our students,” added Karen Weathermon, co-director and head of WSU First-Year Programs, part of WSU Undergraduate Education.

Two-year theme

Starting with the 2015-16 academic year, the program adopted a thematic approach to book selections, allowing students and professors, who lead classes using the book, to go into greater depth and think broadly about big issues. The theme “social justice and leadership” was used for two years, and drove discussions and extensive campus programming around two books: Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson, and I am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai.

The theme chosen for the next two years—2017-18 and 2018-19—is “frontiers of technology, health, and society,” said Poch.

“This theme is relevant not only to our lives as a whole but more locally to WSU as we, for example, expand our health-sciences and medical programs and facilities.”

Common reading is WSU-wide initiative

All of WSU will use the nominated-book list to select a book, or books. From books suggested last year, I am Malala is being used by students in Pullman, Tri-Cities, Spokane, North Puget Sound/Everett, and the Global Campus. A second book from last year’s list, Integration Nation, is in use at Vancouver.

From the nominations, the interdisciplinary, cross-campus selection committee members evaluate each book and narrow the list to a few titles. In Pullman, the university provost, as the top academic officer, makes the final selection. Weathermon said the committee plans to have the short list in hand later this fall.

The Common Reading Program is designed to engage faculty and staff members, first-year students, and many others is dialogue and programming around a book. The program, along with partnering departments, programs, residence halls, and organization on campus, align presentations by faculty- and guest-expert speakers, film showings, and more around topics raised in the book.

For more on the program, upcoming events, and to nominate a book, go to For anyone who might be unable to access the online form, the questions are listed on the nominations webpage and answers can be submitted by email to, said Poch.