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Common Read 2015-16

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Contact & Location


General Education

Kenton Bird
Director, General Education
347C Administration Building
(208) 885-4947


Common Read

Nominations sought for 2016-17 Common read

We are now seeking nominations for fall 2016 and spring 2017. Deadline for nominations is Monday, December 14, 2015. The Common Read committee requests nominations of books, regardless of genre. For criteria. Past selections have included works of fiction, history, race and culture, ethnic identity, immigrant experience, economics, and political discourse. See past Common Reads.

If you have a book in mind, please send your nomination to Include in your nomination a synopsis of why you think this book is appropriate for the Common Read, addressing each of the criteria listed. Also include: book title, author, publisher, tear published, paperback option, cost, awards, name of nominator and contact information.

Anthony Doerr tells the story behind his prize-winning novel

“All the Light We Cannot See” by Boise author Anthony Doerr is the University of Idaho’s Common Read for 2015-2016. Doerr spoke about the book Monday, Sept. 14, in the International Ballroom of the Bruce Pitman Center.

“We are thrilled to give our incoming first-year students a chance to read this remarkable story and to engage with our faculty about the issues raised by the book,” said Kenton Bird, UI’s director of General Education, which sponsors the Common Read.

“All the Light We Cannot See,” which won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, will be the first work book by an Idaho author in the eight-year history of UI’s Common Read program.

“I'm humbled and honored to have 'All the Light We Cannot See' selected for the UI's Common Read,” Doerr said. “I strongly believe that fiction can increase empathy in the world and deepen our experiences of life, and I'm so grateful that the committee was willing to choose a novel.

“And, of course, to have the book selected by a university in my home state is very special,” he added. “I look forward to my visit and the opportunity to chat with some of the first-year students.”

The Common Read is designed to engage the university and Moscow community, its students, staff, faculty and community members in a unified intellectual activity, Bird said. First-year students are asked to read the book as part of the requirements for their Integrated Seminar (ISEM) 101 course, part of the UI’s innovative general education program.

“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 was a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award and has been on the New York Times bestseller list for 68 weeks.

The book was nominated by Diane Kelly-Riley, director of composition for the UI’s Department of English, and Bird. In their nomination letter, they wrote: “Doerr’s book is a captivating story that weaves together science, music, folklore, radio, engineering, technology, history, food, coming of age, living with disability, living in industrial towns, and issues of gender and identity.”


The Common Read is a program designed to engage the university and Moscow community, its students, staff, faculty and community members, in a unified intellectual activity. For first-year students it introduces them to academic expectations, respectful discourse, and community building. The Common Read is supported by the Judith M. Runstad Lecture Series, which sponsors a keynote address by the author of the Common Read, or someone closely associated with the book. First-year students will be asked to read the book as part of their ISEM 101 Integrated Seminar requirements. The Common Read book is available through the UI VandalStore - Bookstore.

This is a program sponsored through the General Education program, supported by the Office of Student Affairs, and a host of faculty, staff and student members on the Common Read Committee.