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Mission and History

Designed to engage the entire Lehigh community in discussions around a theme of contemporary interest and concern, the Summer Reading Program is one of the only shared intellectual experiences for the incoming first-year class. During Orientation, first-year students will discuss the book with their Orientation group and a faculty or staff member. Programming connected to the book and theme--such as 5x10 activities, campus lectures, and, often, author visits--continues the conversation throughout the fall semester. Many first-year students will also study the Summer Reading theme in greater depth during their English 001 course. The Summer Reading Program, then, provides students with an introduction to college-level thinking and inclusive, campus-wide discussion and collaboration.

Goals of the Summer Reading Program

The purpose of the Summer Reading program is . .

. . . to be an intellectual experience shared by the first-year class.

. . . to create a conversation relevant across the colleges and within many co-curricular programs.

. . . to foster inclusion through dialogues about diversity and difference.

. . . to be a tool for engagement with bLUeprint.

. . . to be a fun, engaging and intellectually-stimulating introductory experience for first-year students.

Why do we offer a choice between two books?

While we do sacrifice a common exposure to specific content, we feel that offering incoming first-year students a choice between two books best accomplishes the goals of the program. Rather than acting as a book report-esque test of the details of the books, pairing two selections requires students to engage in higher-level skills of analysis, evaluation, and application. Students must develop their summary techniques as they explain their choice to those who read the other book. Then, students must exercise critical thinking and creative curiosity to draw connections between the two texts and between the texts and their world. This process is highly collaborative, encouraging students, faculty, and staff to work together during the Summer Reading discussion to produce unique and thoughtful understandings of the theme.

In addition, the choice of texts provides students with the chance to begin making and then interrogating their own choices. Why would one choose the nonfiction over the fiction text, or vice versa? What does that choice say about one’s individual identity or way of approaching the world?

Finally, having two books—especially across genres—allows us to have rich conversations regarding the benefits and limits of specific disciplinary knowledge and methods. How does one’s view on a topic change when we look at it through the lens of scientific research verses creative fantasy? What happens when we look at both, together?

Selection Process

The selection process for the Summer Reading book(s) takes place throughout the fall and the beginning of the spring semesters. In the fall, the Selection Committee chooses a theme and gathers book recommendations; from there, we research and read through books to find the best fit for the Lehigh community.

The Committee is composed of student, staff, and faculty volunteers. If you are interested in joining the committee next year, or if you have theme suggestion, please contact LehighSummerReading@lehigh.edu or submit your information here.

2018 Summer Reading Selection Committee

Anne Anderson, Faculty
Megan Bruening, Graduate Student
Stefanie Burke, Staff
Gabriella Cyran, Undergraduate Student
Kathleen Dugan, Staff
Avery Gardner, Staff
Kathleen Hurlock, Graduate Student
Dahlia Hylton, Staff
Nicholas Kahley, Undergraduate Student
Carla Kologie, Staff
Edward Lotto, Faculty
Sophia Mayone, Undergraduate Student
Ashley Sciora, Graduate Student
Susan Szilagyi, Staff
Kathy Trinh, Undergraduate Student
Jasmine Woodson, Staff

Selection Criteria

These are the questions the 2018 Summer Reading Selection Committee use to guide their reading and feedback:

Does the book (and/or the possible conversations it will inspire) seem to be at the right level of intellectual challenge for incoming first-year students?

Does the book offer opportunities for campus-wide conversation about diversity and inclusion?

Does the book offer opportunities for cross-college connection and conversation?

Does the book offer opportunities for connections with bLUeprint’s 5 Foundations for Student Success?

Do you think the length of the book would be off-putting for readers?

Does the book seem timely and up-to-date?

Is the book engaging enough to make it worth students’ time in their last summer at home?

Do you think this book needs to be paired with another book? Can you imagine the book pairing well with other books?

Past Selections:

  • (2017) The True American: Murder and Mercy in Texas by Anand Giridharadas
  • (2017) Freedom Summer: The Savage Season of 1964 That Made Mississippi Burn and Made America a Democracy by Bruce Watson
  • (2016) The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth about Food and Flavor by Mark Schatzker
  • (2016) Stealing Buddha's Dinner, by Bich Minh Nguyen
  • (2015) The Most Human Human: What Artificial Intelligence Teaches Us About Being Alive, by Brian Christian
  • (2015) Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline
  • (2014) Class Matters by Correspondents of the New York Times
  • (2014) Now You See It...Stories from Cokesville, PA by Bathsheba Monk
  • (2013) The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse
  • (2012) The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid
  • (2011) The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • (2010) Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson
  • (2008, 2009) Blink by Malcolm Gladwell
  • (2007) Freedom in Exile by The Dalai Lama
  • (2006) Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • (2005) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • (2004) Copenhagen by Michael Frayn
  • (2003) Nickel & Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich