Common Reading Program
The Common Reading Program invites Sweet Briar students, faculty and staff to participate in a shared reading experience that excites conversation about age-old questions and important contemporary issues facing us all as learners, educators, citizens and human beings.
Chosen for its ability to spark discussion both in- and outside the classroom, the Common Reading book helps us to reaffirm our belief that learning is not a solitary activity — it is a collaborative and social one. In other words, reading the same book helps unite everyone in the Sweet Briar community by getting us all on the same page, both literally and figuratively.
The Common Reading book for 2013
Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide
by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn
“From two of our most fiercely moral voices, Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide is a passionate call to arms against our era’s most pervasive human rights violation: the oppression of women and girls in the developing world. With Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn as our guides, we undertake an odyssey through Africa and Asia to meet with extraordinary women struggling there. Among them is a Cambodian teenager sold into sex slavery and an Ethiopian woman who suffered devastating injuries in childbirth.
Drawing on the breadth of their combined reporting experience, Kristof and WuDunn depict our world with anger, sadness, clarity and, ultimately, hope. They show how a little help can transform the lives of women and girls abroad. That Cambodian girl eventually escaped from her brothel and, with assistance from an aid group, built a thriving retail business that supports her family. The Ethiopian woman had her injuries repaired and in time became a surgeon.
Through these stories, Kristof and WuDunn help us see that the key to economic progress lies in unleashing women’s potential. They make clear how so many people have helped to do just that, and how we can each do our part. Throughout much of the world, the greatest unexploited economic resource is the female half of the population. Countries such as China have prospered precisely because they emancipated women and brought them into the formal economy. Unleashing that process globally is not only the right thing to do; it’s also the best strategy for fighting poverty.
Deeply felt, pragmatic and inspirational, Half the Sky is essential reading for every global citizen.” (From halftheskymovement.org/pages/book)
Books from past years include:
The Fabric of the Cosmos
by Brian Greene
Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge
by Edward O. Wilson
The Gastronomical Me
by MFK Fisher
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
by Azar Nafisi
Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice to All Creation
by Olivia Judson
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
by Rebecca Skloot
Beyond Fundamentalism: Confronting Religious Extremism in the Age of Globalization
by Reza Aslan
The History of Money
by Jack Weatherford