Most people think of summer reading as light novels to read during an afternoon at the beach. Princeton and other universities see it differently. Many schools now have summer reading programs for incoming freshmen, and this year’s selections range from an ancient Greek classic to a prize-winning book on race in contemporary America.
President Eisgruber ’83 created Princeton’s “Pre-read” in 2013, and his choices have included Claude Steele’s Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do; Susan Wolf’s Meaning in Life and Why It Matters; and Kwame Anthony Appiah’s The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen.
Incoming Stanford students read three books, while those at Yale and Cornell have no assignments at all. Harvard assigns short readings in late July or early August, and students at the University of Pennsylvania are asked to watch the movie Citizen Kane. Here are some of this year’s selections:
Princeton: Our Declaration, by Danielle Allen ’93
Dartmouth: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichide
Brown: My Beloved World, by Sonia Sotomayor ’76
Columbia: The Iliad, by Homer (same every year)
Stanford: We Need New Names, by NoViolet Bulawayo; A Paradise Built in Hell: Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster, by Rebecca Solnit; and We the Animals, by Justin Torres
Duke: Just Mercy, by Bryan Stevenson
Vanderbilt: Strong Inside: Perry Wallace and the Collision of Race and Sports in the South, by Andrew Maraniss
UCLA, Washington University in St. Louis: Between the World and Me, by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Tufts: Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America, by Roberto G. Gonzales