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‘Americanah’ Chosen as 2014 Penn State Common Book

Penn State announced its common book selection for the 2014 incoming class — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s “Americanah,” which is about a Nigerian woman who travels to America to study at a university. The Penn State Reads program, an initiative launched in the spring, is designed to provide a shared experience among new students through a common book and stimulate critical thinking.

First-year students, which includes freshmen and transfers, will receive a complimentary copy of the book at New Student Orientation. Students are expected to be prepared for class discussions, featured lectures, and programming events planned around the book when they arrive in the fall. The book’s author, Adichie, is expected to visit during the year for a special presentation.

“Reading programs like Penn State Reads help to develop a shared experience that facilitates conversation and connections across students, faculty, staff and community members who engage with the book,” said Jacqueline Edmondson, associate vice president and associate dean for Undergraduate Education and co-chair of Penn State Reads. “ ‘Americanah’ was chosen as next year’s common book because it tells the story of one woman’s understanding of ethnicity and race in today’s globalized world. It explores the universal human experience through people who for various reasons go to other countries and struggle to adjust to different norms.”

Programs similar to Penn State Reads are in place at other universities around the country. Last year’s pick was  Eyal Press’s “Beautiful Souls: The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times.” The book was integrated into many first-year seminars and other courses.

“The goal is to create a shared experience for new students that helps serve their academic, co-curricular, and social transition to the University,” Edmondson said

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About the Author

Jessica Tully

Jessica Tully is a first-year law student at Penn State's Dickinson School of Law. She graduated in May 2014 with degrees in journalism and political science.

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