Lydia Kiesling’s “Mobility” named Sweet Briar’s next Common Read

Lydia Kiesling and the cover of her book Mobility
Lydia Kiesling and the cover of her book Mobility

The new Common Read is a propulsive and challenging story about class, power, politics, and desire told through the life of one woman.

Posted on May 14, 2024

The Sweet Briar Community will soon meet “Bunny” Glenn, the main character of the 2024-25 Common Read selection Mobility, by Lydia Kiesling. We will follow Bunny’s journey from her youth in the near past through her middle age in the not-to-distant future in what the Los Angeles Review of Books calls a “geopolitical exploration and domestic coming-of-age novel.” 

Lydia Kiesling is a novelist and culture writer who lives in Portland, Oregon. Her first novel, The Golden State, was a 2018 National Book Foundation “5 under 35” honoree and a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. Her second novel, Mobility, a national bestseller, was named a best book of 2023 by Vulture, Time, and NPR, among others, and was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. Her essays and nonfiction have been published in outlets including The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker online, and The Cut.

Mobility explores themes of geopolitics, climate change, consumerism, career management, and personal responsibility by showing us the world through the eyes of Elizabeth “Bunny” Glenn. We first meet Bunny when she is a 15-year old teenager living in Azerbaijan in 1998, where her father is posted as a U.S. Foreign Service information officer. We follow her to Houston during the 2010s and 2020s, where she works for an oil company and revisits some of the people and places overseas she knew as a girl. Finally, in 2051, we are with her in a hospital delivery room in Portland where she awaits the birth of her grandchild.

The annual Common Read provides the students, faculty, and staff of Sweet Briar with a shared experience, fosters discussion on a wide range of issues, and introduces us all to new perspectives through literature. Recent Common Read selections include Chloé Cooper Jones’ Easy Beauty, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s My Monticello, Emily Wilson’s translation of The Odyssey by Homer, Madeline Miller’s Circe, and Elizabeth Kolbert’s Pulitzer Prize-winning work The Sixth Extinction.

Lydia Kiesling will visit campus for a series of programs on April 3, 2025.