‘Book club’ approach to first-year reading

The Wake Forest Summer Research Fellowship program allows undergraduate students to work with faculty mentors on research projects in their areas of interest.  Psychology professor Christy Buchanan works with psychology major Rebecca Abramson ('11) on a study of effective parenting techniques and how mothers perceive them. They talk about their research in Greene Hall on Thursday, July 22, 2010.

Christy Buchanan

Wake Forest took a “book club” approach to this year’s summer reading assignment for first-year students. From John Grisham’s “Gray Mountain” to Levitt and Dubner’s “Think Like a Freak,” to Susan Cain’s “Quiet,” incoming students can choose from 22 different books.

All of the books fit this year’s theme, “Exploring Difference, Embracing Diversity.” Contemporary novels, historical novels, non-fiction, and a collection of short stories made the list.

The Orientation and Lower Division Advising Committee originally planned to choose one common reading, but changed course when it received so many good recommendations from faculty members.

“Our committee asked the question, ‘Why do we have to pick just one?’” said Senior Associate Dean for Academic Advising Christy Buchanan.

Professors and campus leaders from more than a dozen departments and offices will lead book discussions on Sunday, Aug. 23, during orientation.

Buchanan explained the selection of the theme: “Although we are often drawn to similarity, the ability to understand and appreciate different perspectives, different experiences, and different ways of being is essential to a healthy and vibrant Wake Forest community.”

She doesn’t know of any other universities giving students so many options, but likes the idea of encouraging students to explore an area of personal interest with different faculty and staff members during their first days on campus.

“It introduces them to the kind of intellectual discussion we value here,” Buchanan said.