The Catawba Common College Reading Program, started in 2005, is an initiative intended to get you and your fellow incoming first-year students talking about important issues from the minute you arrive on campus. The program affords you an opportunity to participate in and contribute to the intellectual life of the College and provides you with a shared academic experience during Orientation and the first semester.
Themes in the reading are addressed in a variety of contexts: during formal discussion in Orientation, in individual First-Year Seminars, in the community, during informal conversation (with faculty, ALPHAs, coaches, staff, and other students), and in Lilly Center events such as the values and vocation dinner. Thus, the reading provides a common base for discussion among all members of the campus community for the entire year.
"The Real Work: Modern Magic and the Meaning of Life”
By Adam Gopnik
The New Yorker, March 17, 2008
“The Real Work: Modern Magic and the Meaning of Life” by Adam Gopnik, was published in The New Yorker in 2008. It simultaneously represents a fairly high level of writing while taking as its subject matter a fairly accessible topic: magic, magicians, and the way they perfect their technique. Read more »
2012 - Atul Gawande's "The Checklist Manifesto"
This book focuses on how humans can avoid making costly and dangerous errors in an increasingly-complex technological society. The book relates several real-world examples from medicine, construction, and aviation, and includes an account of USAirways flight 1549 that shows how checklists and teamwork contributed to the plane's miracle landing on the Hudson River.
Read More | Study Guide
2011 - Dave Egger's "Zeitoun"
This is the story of Abdulrahman and Kathy Zeitoun, New Orleans residents whose lives were irrevocably changed by Hurricane Katrina. In 2005, the Zeitouns were residents of New Orleans who had a busy family life, a booming construction and remodeling business, and a close circle of friends and family. In late August, it became clear that Hurricane Katrina was to be a dangerous storm, and so Zeitoun sent his wife and children out of New Orleans to stay with family; he remained to watch his home, properties, and business. After enduring Katrina's horrific force, Zeitoun found himself in a flooded nightmare called New Orleans.
Read More | Study Guide
2010 — Greg Mortenson's "Three Cups of Tea"
This book is the account of how one man has committed his life to improving literacy and building schools for girls in remote regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan, often under the noses of the Taliban. His memoir details his journey from failed mountaineer to friend of Afghani tribal members, and how he has learned of both the special needs and special customs of people in the region. Since he began his project, he has raised money through the Central Asia Institute to build over 80 schools, and has begun a Pennies for Peace project to fill girls' schools with needed materials. Mortenson has been nominated for the 2009 Nobel Peace Price.
Read More | Study Guide
2009 — Kevin Sites' "In the Hot Zone: One Man, One Year, Twenty Wars"
In the Hot Zone details journalist Kevin Sites' travels through 20 distinct world conflicts from 2005-2006, during which time he was the war correspondent for Yahoo.com. While Sites has extensive experience covering war and disasters in traditional formats for major networks (such as CNN, NBC, and ABC), his reporting for Yahoo was different in that it was nearly instantaneous and less likely to be edited. The result — his book — is therefore raw at times, and it includes a good deal of Sites' personal commentary about various political issues leading to the conflicts he covers. Read More | Study Guide
Sites' Visit to Catawba:
2008 — Jim Wooten's "We Are All the Same"
By Jim Wooten, award-winning senior correspondent for ABC News and the recipient of a John Chancellor Award for Excellence in Journalism. This Robert F. Kennedy Book Award-winning book's subtitle is "A Story of a Boy's Courage and a Mother's Love."
Read More | Study Guide | About Wooten
Wooten's Visit to Catawba:
STORY PHOTOS: Wooten
2007 — Tracy Kidder's "Mountains Beyond Mountains"
Tracy Kidder's book, Mountains beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man Who Would Cure the World. According to Publishers Weekly, "In this excellent work, Pulitzer Prize-winner Kidder immerses himself in and beautifully explores the rich drama that exists in the life of Dr. Paul Farmer ... Throughout, Kidder captures the almost saintly effect Farmer has on those whom he treats."
Study Guide | Student Response | BookRevue
2006— Khaled Hosseini's "The Kite Runner"
Published in 2003, this bestselling book's, "brilliant, startling plot twists make this book memorable both as a political chronicle and a deeply personal tale about how childhood choices affect our adult lives."
Read More | BookRevue
Tenner's Visit to Catawba:
2005 — Edward Tenner's "Why Things Bite Back"
The book, published in 1996, examines the unintended (positive and negative) consequences of technology and helped gain Tenner a worldwide cult-following. In it, he offers profound insights and details about society's commonplace technological advances and their unintended consequences.