Common Book Program
Otterbein University has established a common reading experience for new students through a gift from an alumna, Mary Thomas '28.
The selection of books for the common reading experience reflects Otterbein's resolve to add an academic component to new student orientation and to present itself to incoming students as an intellectual community willing to grapple with significant contemporary issues.
Since 1995, the series seeks to stimulate a year-long discussion of an academic theme derived from common book issues by exploring it in classes, residence halls, and co-curricular programming. This common reading experience involves all incoming first-year students, faculty, many staff members, and student leaders. A committee of faculty, staff, and students select from over fifty books each year in an effort to find a significant contemporary work to read the next year.
2017 Common Book Selection: Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption
In his memoir, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption, Stevenson tells the stories of those he has defended when they did not have adequate defense. Stevenson is an attorney and founder of the Equal Justice Initiative, a "private, nonprofit organization that challenges poverty and racial injustice, advocates for equal treatment in the criminal justice system, and creates hope for marginalized communities"
We encourage you to watch this short video of Bryan Stevenson to give you some insight into his perspective and of the conversations this book will include.
2016 Common Book Convocation: Full Body Burden
Full Body Burden is the nonfiction work of Kristen Iversen’s experience growing up in Arvada, Colorado near Rocky Flats. Rocky Flats, once designated “the most contaminated site in America,” was a secret nuclear weapons plant responsible for the assembly of over 70,000 of plutonium triggers for nuclear bombs between 1952-1989. Full Body Burden follows Kristen’s life in Colorado and the lives of those impacted by the hidden truths of what was actually happening inside the Rock Flats facility.
We encourage you to watch this short video introduction of the book.
2015 Common Book Convocation: Jeanne Marie Laskas, author of "Hidden America: From Coal Miners to Cowboys, an Extraordinary Exploration of the Unseen People Who Make this Country Work"
Jeanne Marie Laskas
In Hidden America, award-winning journalist Jeanne Marie Laskas dives deep into her subjects and emerges with character-driven stories about the people who make our lives run every day—and yet we barely think of them
2014 Common Book Convocation: Naomi Benaron, author of "Running the Rift."
Naomi Benaron earned an MFA from Antioch University and an MS in earth sciences from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. She teaches creative writing through UCLA Writers Extension and is a writing mentor for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project. An advocate for African refugees in her home community of Tucson, Ariz., she has also worked with genocide survivor groups in Rwanda. She won the G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction for her collection, Love Letters from a Fat Man. She is a marathon runner and an Ironman triathlete.
2013 Common Book Convocation: Conor Grennan, author of "Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal."
Little Princes is the epic story of Conor Grennan’s battle to save the lost children of Nepal and how he found himself in the process. Part Three Cups of Tea, part Into Thin Air, Grennan’s remarkable memoir is at once gripping and inspirational, and it carries us deep into an exotic world that most readers know little about.