Summer Common Reading

What is Summer Common Reading?

Kalamazoo’s Summer Common Reading joins new students, faculty, and staff in conversations about a book they have read during the summer. Incoming students are sent the book in late June as part of a larger Orientation mailing. Students are not required to purchase the book.

Why is it Important?

Summer Common Reading is an important first step in building a cohesive, dynamic, educational community. To share a book means we all begin “on the same page”–literally. We hope that, through reading this book attentively, discussing it with peers and faculty, and making it relevant to students in surprising ways, the Summer Common Reading experience will be seen as a microcosm of, and a model for, a liberal arts education.

How are books selected?

The Summer Common Reading book is selected based on many different criteria. The book must:

  • be recent
  • have literary merit and value
  • address themes of change or transition
  • foster intercultural understanding
  • raise important issues
  • be engaging

2024 Summer Common Reading

The 2024 Summer Common Reading Selection will be announced in May 2024.

All incoming first-year students are mailed a copy of the book as part of a larger summer mailing in mid-June.

Summer Common Reading Response

Incoming First Year students are required to submit answers in response to prompts about the book. Students are mailed the instructions along with the book as part of a larger Orientation mailing in late June. Students do not need to purchase the book

Past Summer Common Reading Selections

Summer Common Reading Selections

  • 2023 Mona Hanna-Attisha, What the Eyes Don’t See
  • 2022 Kacen Callender, Felix Ever After
  • 2021 Marianne Chan, All Heathens
  • 2020 LaTanya McQueen, And It Begins Like This
  • 2019 Jaroslav Kalfař, Spaceman of Bohemia
  • 2018 Jennine Capó Crucet, Make Your Home Among Strangers
  • 2017 Eula Biss, On Immunity: An Inoculation
  • 2016 Angela Flournoy, The Turner House
  • 2015 Leslie Jamison, The Empathy Exams
  • 2014 NoViolet Bulawayo, We Need New Names
  • 2013 Vaddey Ratner, In the Shadow of the Banyan
  • 2012 Bonnie Jo Campbell, Once Upon a River
  • 2011 David Finkel, The Good Soldiers
  • 2010 Colson Whitehead, Sag Harbor
  • 2009 Rachel Kushner, Telex From Cuba
  • 2008 Junot Diaz, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
  • 2007 Edward P. Jones, The Known World
  • 2006 Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated
  • 2005 Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Purple Hibiscus
  • 2004 Aleksandar Hemon, Nowhere Man
  • 2003 Ann Patchett, Bel Canto
  • 2002 Ha Jin, Waiting
  • 2001 Chang-rae Lee, A Gesture Life
  • 2000 Richard Ford, Independence Day


Please direct any questions about the Summer Common Reading to Dana Jansma, Senior Associate Dean of Students and Dean of the First-Year.