10 University common books for activists of all ages

Looking for a global-themed summer read?

Many colleges around the country require all incoming freshmen to read a specific book over the summer before the fall semester begins. It’s usually part of a school’s “common reading” program.

We took a look at schools with ONE chapters to find out what their incoming freshmen will be reading. We found some gems along the way! It was amazing to see how many common books were focused on themes of social justice, global poverty and activism. Here are our favorites:

March Book 1

1. Georgia State University and Marquette University – March: Book One by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell

March: Book One is a first-hand account of civil rights-activist John Lewis’ experience during the Civil Rights movement and the modern-day challenges that must still be battled to overcome racism.

A powerful story about the power of one voice, in conjunction with others, is a must-read for activists of any age.

 

Where Am I Eating

2. Winthrop University – Where Am I Eating? by Kelsey Timmerman

Where Am I Eating? uses the power of storytelling to delve into the global food economy.

Timmerman looks not only at the consumer side of the global food economy, but also the people who produce the food that we eat. Where Am I Eating? provides fascinating insight into the lives of farmers and fisherman in the developing world.

 

Behind the Beautiful Forevers

3. Indiana University at Bloomington, Kelley School of Business – Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo tells the story of families in Annawadi, India living in a poor settlement near the Mumbai airport.

Boo’s story remains one of hope, despite focusing on one of the world’s poorest settlements. Behind the Beautiful Forevers is a great book for those wanting to learn more about extreme poverty in India.

 

How Does it Feel To Be a  Problem

4. Northern Kentucky University – How Does It Feel To Be A Problem: Being Young and Arab in America by Moustafa Bayoumi

Bayoumi tells the stories of several Arab-Americans living in Brooklyn and the multiple facets of discrimination that they face. How Does It Feel To Be A Problem? is an eye-opening read that gets into what it truly means to be a global citizen and see people for who they are rather than where they come from.

 

I Am Malala

 5. Salem State University – I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot By the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai

I Am Malala is the story of a girl who risked everything, and feared no one, in order to get an education. Yousafzai and her family fought against gender norms in their society to fight for the right to an education for not only Malala, but girls everywhere. I Am Malala is a reminder of just how powerful one voice can be.

 

 

Life of Pi

6. Western Michigan University – Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Life of Pi is the fantastic story of Pi, a teenage boy who finds himself alone in a lifeboat with a medley of wild animals after the boat that he and his family were traveling on sinks.

Pi is forced to confront the limits of his own survival in a tale that beautifully encapsulates the resilience of the human spirit—even in conditions of desperation.

 

 
Little Princes

7. Saint Louis University- Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan

Little Princes tells the story of Conor Grennan and his quest to rescue the lost children of Nepal.

Grennan tells the real-life stories of families in Nepal and illuminates the change that can happen in the world when one person has the determination and strength to fight for what is right—even against all odds.

 

Persepolis

8. Texas Christian University – Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is the heart-wrenchingly honest story of Marjane Satrapi’s early life as a young woman growing up in Tehran and Vienna.

Satrapi’s story gives brilliant insight into the life of a young woman growing up during the Islamic Revolution and questions what makes us who we are—boundaries or experiences?

 

What Money Can't Buy

9. University of Texas at Austin – What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel

In What Money Can’t Buy, Michael J. Sandel discusses the ethical implications of market economies and a commodity-obsessed culture.

Sandel’s book is perfect for those who want to delve deeper into economic theory and gives critical insight into an increasingly globalized economy and culture.

 

The Ghost Map

10. University of Vermont – The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic—and How It Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern World by Steven Johnson

Steven Johnson writes about the terrifying rapid spread of disease and science’s response to it. Johnson unravels the history of modern medicine and how it has shaped the way that society functions today. The Ghost Map is particularly riveting for readers who are interested in global health and the way that science responds to the threat of disease.

What global-themed books are you reading this summer?

Sign up here to start a ONE chapter at your school!