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Nominations Sought for 2020 Common Reading Experience

Matthew Desmond, author of ‘Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City,’ the UM Common Reading Experience selection for 2019, signs copies of his book and answers questions after the recent freshmen convocation. Photo by Kevin Bain/Ole Miss Digital Imaging Services

The University of Mississippi is asking community members to help select the book that will be read by the Class of 2024 for the Common Reading Experience.

Anyone in the Lafayette-Oxford-University community, including students, faculty, staff, alumni or residents, can submit nominations.

The Common Reading Experience project started in 2011 as a way to cultivate community and learning among the freshman class. The selected book will be provided to all entering freshmen and transfer students, and they will be required to read it before the 2020 fall semester begins.

“We’ve had some terrific Common Reading Experience selections in recent years,” said Kirk Johnson, associate professor of sociology and anthropology and African American studies who is co-chair of the book selection subcommittee. “We’re looking forward to another very successful selection process and the opportunity to present another thought-provoking read to the campus community next year.”

The Common Reading Experience selection subcommittee will meet every other week through January to discuss all suggestions and finalize a recommendation. Nominations can be made via an online form at http://umreads.olemiss.edu/suggest-a-book/.

Community members are urged to participate in the nomination process to help assure suggestions come from a diverse group. The key criteria for the book are that it be less than 400 pages, written by a living author, available in paperback, published within the last five years and accessible to students and others in the community.

“We need good books,” said Stephen Monroe, chair of the Department of Writing and Rhetoric and CRE steering committee. “Our common reading program is amongst the best in the country because it is democratic and collaborative.”

This year’s CRE book is “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by Matthew Desmond, a Princeton sociologist and recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. “Evicted” was awarded the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction for being “a deeply researched expose that showed how mass evictions after the 2008 economic crash were less a consequence than a cause of poverty.”

Previous readings were “Collected Stories” by William Faulkner (2018), “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson (2017), “Ten Little Indians” by Sherman Alexie (2016), “The Education of a Lifetime” by Robert Khayat (2015), “The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Won World War II” by Denise Kiernan (2014), “The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education” by Craig Mullaney (2013), “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” by Tom Franklin (2012) and “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot (2011).

Everyone in the Ole Miss community is encouraged to read the CRE book.

“First and foremost, the University of Mississippi is an intellectual community,” Monroe said. “We all join together around this project. We read a book. We engage new ideas and we learn more about ourselves and our world.”

By Edwin B. Smith

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