A Common Reader is a book assigned to all first-year students to read before or shortly after they arrive on campus in the fall. The purpose of the First-Year Common Reader is to integrate the student into the University learning community as early as possible. The shared experience of reading the book, which can be a work of fiction or non-fiction, is a way to engage students socially and academically both inside and outside of the classroom. The theme(s) of the Common Reader are incorporated into discussions, activities and experiences of first-year students.

Program Goals

The goals of Lewis University’s First Year Common Reader Program were adopted by the Common Reader Committee in December of 2006:

  • Create a sense of community         
  • Promote discussion
  • Set academic expectations for students
  • Provide a shared intellectual experience
  • Encourage cross-disciplinary dialogue
  • Increase faculty-student interaction
  • Promote critical engagement with ideas
  • Encourage reading among first year students
Common Reader Selections

2017 – Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists
Courtney E. Martin

Lewis University is pleased to announce that Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists, written by Courtney E. Martin, has been selected as the First Year Common Reader for the 2017-2018 academic year.

Do It Anyway explores the lives and motivations of eight young people who are searching for their own way to make a difference in the world. Included in the profiles are a prison re-entry social worker, an advocate for sexually abused soldiers, an actor struggling to use her celebrity for social change, and an environmentalist concerned with the racial politics of pollution.  Author Parker Palmer describes Do It Anyway as, “a lively, compelling, and very important book for people of every generation who want to be fully alive in and to the world.” 

The First Year Common Reader Committee selected this book for its readability and its potential for: engaging our newest Lewis students in issues of social justice, based in research, the use of story, and advocacy; strong possibilities for community-engaged programming; and passionate and informative discussion and debate.

2016 – Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream
Joshua Davis

2015 – Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Haddon

2014 – The New Kings of Nonfiction
Ira Glass, Editor

2013 – The House on Mango Street
Sandra Cisneros

2012 – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Rebecca Skloot

2011 – Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream
Adam Shepard

2010 – Garbage Land
Elizabeth Royte

2009 – The Devil in the White City
Erik Larson

2008 – Persepolis II
Marjane Satrapi

2007 – Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Mark Haddon

2004 & 2005 – Life of Pi
Yann Martel

For more information, please contact:
Dr. Kurt Schackmuth, Vice President for Mission and Academic Services