Past Common Reads
2016 | The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery
In “The Soul of an Octopus,” the author documents growing scientific appreciation of the intelligence of the octopus and describes her relationship with a series of the creatures at the New England Aquarium in Boston and in oceans around the world. This book touches on so many disciplines, including marine biology, ocean ecology, literature, psychology and philosophy.
2015: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
All the Light We Cannot See is set in the years leading up to World War II in Europe, as well as a key period after the Allied invasion of France in 1944. It tells the parallel stories of Marie-Laure, a blind girl living in occupied France, and Werner, a German orphan whose extraordinary mechanical abilities earn him a place among the Nazi elite. It won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2015. All the Light We Cannot See was the first work of fiction and the first book by an Idahoan to be selected in the eight-year history of UI’s Common Read program.
2014 | "Stealing Buddha’s Dinner" by Bich Minh Nguyen
2013 | "Tomatoland: How Modern Industrial Agriculture Destroyed Our Most Alluring Fruit" by Barry Estabrook
"Tomatoland" combines history, legend, passion for taste, and investigative reporting on modern agribusiness and environmental issues into a revealing, controversial look at the tomato, the fruit we love so much that we eat $4 billion-worth annually. Estabrook traces the supermarket tomato from its birthplace in the deserts of Peru to the impoverished town of Immokalee, Florida, a.k.a. the tomato capital of the United States. It was the 2012 International Association of Culinary Professionals Award Winner in the Food Matters category.
2012 | "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" by Rebecca Skloot
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor black tobacco farmer whose cells — taken without her knowledge in 1951 — became one of the most important tools in medicine, vital for developing the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. Henrietta’s cells have been bought and sold by the billions, yet she remains virtually unknown, and her family can’t afford health insurance.
2011 | "The Big Burn" by Timothy Egan
"The Big Burn" chronicles the largest forest fire in America, and how it made Teddy Roosevelt’s legacy as the president who saved our wild places. In August 1910, strong wind accompanied by drought-stricken national forests of Washington, Idaho, and Montana, starting hundreds of small blazes burning across the forest floor jumped from treetop to ridge as it raged, destroying towns and timber in the blink of an eye. The Big Burn tells an epic story while painting a moving portrait of the people who lived it, and offers a critical cautionary tale.
2010 | "The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal" by Jonathan Mooney
"The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal" addresses the challenges all of us have faced regardless of ability; being different, yet wanting to be like everyone else. The book was well received, and the author, Jonathan Mooney, joined us on campus and presented to the university community during fall orientation activities.
2009 | "Deep Economy" by Bill McKibben
"Deep Economy" by Bill McKibben was been selected for the 2009 Common Read book for incoming students by a committee of faculty, staff, and students.
2008 | "1 Dead in Attic-After Katrina" by Chris Rose
"1 Dead in Attic-After Katrina" is a collection of stories by Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose, recounting the first harrowing year and a half of life in New Orleans after Hurrican Katrina. This book was well received and over 600 students attended the half day discussion. The author Chris Rose also joined us on campus and presented to student, community and administrative groups.