‘It’s What I Do’ chosen as 2017-18 Penn State Reads common text

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The 2017 incoming Penn State class will join photographer, author, MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynsey Addario in exploring her passion for photography and how it shaped her personal and professional life by reading “It’s What I Do: A Photographer's Life of Love and War,” the common book chosen for the 2017-18 Penn State Reads program.

“This memoir of photojournalist Lynsey Addario’s life is insightful and inspiring,” said Jacqueline Edmondson, associate vice president and associate dean for Undergraduate Education and Penn State Reads co-chair. “It opens conversations for us about women’s issues, the U.S. presence in the Middle East, and the role of photography in capturing history, among others. The book will take the Penn State Reads programming into interesting and new directions as we explore the many topics it presents.”

Administered by Undergraduate Education, Student Affairs, the University Libraries, and the Office for Student Orientation and Transition Programs, the common reading program is a collaborative initiative for first-year students that runs complementary to Penn State’s New Student Orientation. The program supplies each first-year University Park campus student with a copy of the chosen book to provide a shared experience and aims to encourage intellectual engagement within and beyond the classroom, stimulate critical thinking, and foster a deeper connection to Penn State’s mission and core values.

This year, Penn State Reads will work to expand its mission. It will still include a common book for all first-year students, but it will also create a book club for any interested student and the larger Penn State community based on selections from a group of volunteers. The book club selection will be guided by a student committee. 

Concepts that are introduced over the summer at New Student Orientation are further explored during Welcome Week and students’ first year at Penn State. Events based on the book’s themes, including a visit by the author, will be planned throughout the 2017 fall and 2018 spring semesters.

“One goal of Penn State Reads is to help incoming students connect to the University through the book,” Edmondson said. “This book has broad relevance, and it is an opportunity for students to connect to many colleges, centers and programs at Penn State, including Communications, Arts and Architecture, Political Science, the Rock Ethics Institute, and the University’s community of visual artists, among others.”

Past Penn State Reads books include: “The Circle” by Dave Eggers in 2016; “The Boom: How Fracking Ignited the American Energy Revolution and Changed the World” by Russell Gold in 2015; “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in 2014; and “Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times” by Eyal Press in 2013.

To choose each year’s common text, the Penn State Reads steering committee calls for University community members to nominate books. Once the nominations are narrowed to a short list, volunteers are asked to read the final selections and complete short surveys on their impressions of the books to be used in the final book selection. Any member of the Penn State community can nominate a book by emailing pennstatereads@psu.edu.

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Last Updated April 19, 2017