Common Reading Experience committee set to choose next book

Posted on Jan 31 2013 - 7:00am by Lacey Russell

After accepting student and faculty nominations, the Common Reading Experience committee has narrowed its list of contenders down to six books. The final decision will be made in about two weeks.

The Common Reading Experience committee is in the process of selecting a book for this fall’s incoming freshmen at The University of Mississippi.

The committee will be choosing from six books, ranging in topic from Southern culture to national politics.

All of the proposed books are fewer than 400 pages in length.

According to committee head Leslie Banahan, the final decision will be made in about two weeks.

Last year’s selection was “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter,” a novel written by Ole Miss assistant professor Tom Franklin.

Christian Schloegel, a freshman public policy leadership major, said he enjoyed last year’s Common Reading Experience, despite initial misgivings.

“Although I did not initially want to read ‘Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter,’ I ended up enjoying the book itself,” Schloegel said.

“Another novel like ‘Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter,’ I would read again because of the enjoyment and benefits I gained from it.”

One of the books being considered this year is Jesmyn Ward’s “Salvage the Bones,” a novel set in Mississippi that follows the story of a family and the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina.

Two other proposed books are also set in the South.

The first of these is “In the Sanctuary of Outcasts: A Memoir” by Neil White. The memoir tells the story of a Louisiana leper colony. The second is “Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference” by Warren St. John. The 2009 book focuses on a Georgia refugee settlement, and both books revolve around the themes of community, acceptance and the individual.

Two of the other proposed books focus on issues more relevant to the nation as a whole.

“Ten Letters: The Stories Americans Tell Their President,” by Eli Saslow, showcases 10 individual stories of correspondence with President Obama, revealing the personal aspect of hot-button policies.

“The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields and the Dinner Table,” by Tracie McMillan, focuses on the eating habits of different socioeconomic groups.

The final book under consideration is “The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education” by Craig M. Mullaney.

Like “In the Sanctuary of Outcasts,” it is a first-person narrative.

Mullaney recounts his time at West Point, his first taste of war in Afghanistan and his eventual return stateside to a teaching post at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Unlike the other first-person selection, it focuses less on community and more on the individual, asking what it means to be a man.