Mark Bauerlein at First Things asks What Should College Students Read? The “One Book” program at a growing number of universities has weighed in:
For several years now, colleges have chosen a book for all entering students to read and discuss. The ostensible goal is to create a common experience for everyone and to introduce them to the kinds of things students will have to study during their undergraduate years. Continue reading at First Things
The concept of a freshman “one book” is a good one, I think—with the right book. And it shouldn’t just be a reading assignment, there should be some follow-up discussion. Maybe upperclassmen and professors could be encouraged to read it too. A relatively “easy” read for summer might be good, but these are college students—so not a fifth grade reading level, and NOT twaddle. Should be a good story—probably fiction. Yes, even (especially!) STEM students should have to read some fiction.
But, which book? Oh my, that would be a tough and agonizing choice for me! I’m not too impressed with the book the article mentions; I am partial to the idea of a (more) modern classic for this, but one that has been around long enough to BE a classic.
It must also be a book that provokes discussion. That means it must contain some ideas or deal with some topic that is somewhat controversial.
With these things in mind, here’s my attempt at a short list.
- Till We Have Faces, C. S. Lewis
- To Kill A Mockingbird, Harper Lee
- The Man Who Was Thursday, G. K. Chesterton
- Jayber Crow, Wendell Berry
And, because no book list of mine could be complete without him . . .
- Hard Times, Charles Dickens
I am well aware this list tilts toward my literary preferences, and there are many other wonderful possibilities. There are so many others I want to list, but they are too long (Dostoyevsky and Hugo) or probably really too specific to my tastes (Goudge and Trollope).
What would be on your list?