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Common Reading Book - Library Resources: Overview

Since 1997, incoming freshmen at ASU have been asked to read a book as part of their orientation to Appalachian State University. By participating in the Common Reading Program, students establish a shared experience with other new students.

Common Reading

Common Reading ExperienceSince 1997, incoming first-year students at Appalachian State University have been asked to read a book as part of their orientation to the university. By participating in the Common Reading Program, students establish a common experience with other new students that will help develop a sense of community with their new environment and introduce them to a part of the academic life they are beginning at Appalachian. This program is an exciting facet in Appalachian's orientation of new students to life on campus.

Common Reading Program

“Appalachian’s Summer Reading Program provides an important common experience for entering freshmen, helps develop a sense of community with their new environment and introduces them to the academic rigor of college.”
- Former Chancellor Kenneth E. Peacock

Common Reading Program Events

Bryan Stevenson - Common Reading Program, Book Talk followed by book signing
Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - 7:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Holmes Convocation Center

Documentary screenings: In Pursuit of Justice: How Criminal Justice Reform Freed Greg Taylor
Tuesday, October 8, 2019,  7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday, October 16, 2019, 7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
I.G. Greer Auditorium

"Feminism's Alliance with Police, Prisons, and Punishment: A Panel on Carceral Feminism," A Faculty Panel
Monday, October 21, 2019, 5:00 - 7:00 p,m.
Belk Library, Room 114
Department of Sociology and the Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies Program

Greg Taylor and his lawyer, Chris Mumma from the NC Center on Actual Innocence Presentation, followed by Q&A
Tuesday, October 22, 2019, 7:00 p.m.
I.G. Greer Auditorium

Documentary screening: At Night I Fly Followed by a panel on "Prison Arts, Education, and Recidivism"
Tuesday, November 5, 2019,  7:00 - 9:00 p.m.
Belk Library, Room 114
Rhetoric and Composition Program

2019 Common Reading Book

The 2019 Common Reading Book is Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

The Common Reading Program at Appalachian State is pleased to announce the 2019-20 book selection: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. “Just Mercy” details the injustices of a broken criminal justice system that punishes impoverished people, and Stevenson’s work to improve that system.

For the past 22 years, the Common Reading Program Committee has selected a book for incoming first-year students to read together in order to jump-start intellectual engagement both inside and outside the classroom. “The Common Reading Committee selected ‘Just Mercy’ for its relevance to a wide range of academic disciplines and because Stevenson’s work has had a profound impact on our society,” said Dr. Martha McCaughey, director of the Common Reading Program.

Stevenson, a graduate of Harvard Law School and founder and executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) in Montgomery, Alabama, has dedicated his career as a public interest lawyer to helping the poor, the incarcerated and the condemned.

EJI has exonerated innocent death row prisoners, won major legal challenges eliminating excessive and unfair sentencing, aided children prosecuted as adults, and opposed the abuse of the incarcerated and the mentally ill. Stevenson successfully argued in the U.S. Supreme Court that mandatory life without parole sentences for all children 17 or younger are unconstitutional. Most recently, with EJI, Stevenson founded the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, also known as the Lynching Memorial, in Montgomery.

All incoming students will receive a copy of “Just Mercy” when they come to campus for Summer Orientation and will discuss the book during Welcome Weekend in August. 

Students will remain engaged with the book and its themes throughout the academic year, in their First Year Seminar courses and at co-curricular events throughout the year, such as faculty panel discussions organized by the Department of Government and Justice Studies and the Department of Sociology.

Stevenson will give a public talk, followed by a book signing, on Appalachian's campus in fall 2019. The event will be free and open to the public.

Book Discussions

Book discussions of the 2018 Common Reading Book will take place across campus during Welcome Weekend (August, 2018).