Enriching a Shared Experience With UConn Reads

A photo of the first book to be selected for the UConn Reads Program
A photo of the first book to be selected for the UConn Reads Program named Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. (Sean Flynn/UConn Photo)

Reading a good book brings so much joy and comfort to so many people. Many of us fall asleep with a good book, explore new and old interests with a good book, and engage others in debate over the merits of and ideas in a book. For many of us, reading has been a lifelong passion. Reading constitutes the core of most of our studentsʼ academic lives at UConn, even though they may read differently than past generations – on their smartphones, iPads, or Kindles.

Earlier this year, President Susan Herbst launched a new initiative called UConn Reads. It is designed to provide a common reading experience for all of our campuses and members of our University community. We hope that UConn Reads will enhance our campus community experience by engaging our alumni, students, faculty, staff, and members of our University family in a common reading program.

UConn Reads invites all alumni, faculty, staff, students, and community members to participate in a common intellectual discussion by reading a book selected by a University-wide committee and then participating in events and online discussions with faculty, staff, community members, and students throughout the year.

UConn Reads is designed to:

Engage our campus and extended community in an enriched and focused reading experience; Generate discussions and exchanges of diverse ideas; Promote literary connections among students, faculty, staff, alumni, and the wider community; Bridge learning experiences inside and outside the classroom.

For the inaugural year of our UConn Reads program, the 2011-12 Steering Committee has chosen Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by Pulitzer Prize-winners Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, a nonfiction bestseller centered on the oppression of women and girls in the developing world.

The UConn Reads Steering Committee combed through many worthwhile nominations over the past several months, ultimately narrowing down this yearʼs selection to three finalists. The runners-up were That Used to Be Us: How America Fell Behind in the World It Invented and How We Can Come Back, by Thomas Friedman and Michael Mandelbaum; and A Peopleʼs History of the United States, by Howard Zinn.

Come spring, we look forward to bringing Kristof and WuDunn to campus, as well as holding discussion groups and other exciting events in person and online, for our alumni, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other members of the UConn community.

For more information, including how to access this yearʼs book selection, please visit uconnreads.uconn.edu.

Sally Reis ʼ81 Ph.D. is a Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in the Neag School of Education; vice provost for academic administration; and chair of the UConn Reads 2011-12 Steering Committee.