Trending Books for 2016 Common Reading Programs

Trending Books for 2016 Common Reading Programs

By Elizabeth Lee , Mar 8th 2016

college freshman common reading

Are you ready for your 2016-2017 Common Reading Program?

Freshman common reading programs — campus or class-wide programs centered around the study of a single book — have risen in popularity over the past few years. Hosting one of these programs is a great way to build a strong sense of community on your college campus. The key to having a great common reading program lies in selecting the right book for your school and your school's mission.

To help you find the perfect title, we're highlighting the top eight trending books for freshman common reading programs this year:
1. The Gene: An Intimate History by Siddhartha Mukherjee

the gene

What happens to humanity when we learn to read and write our own genetic information? Weaving science, social history, and personal narrative into his history of the gene, Mukherjee maps out the quest to understand human heredity and the influence this quest has on our lives, personalities, identities, and fates.

Related disciplines: genetics, history, and social science.
2. Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto by Lesley Hazleton
agnostic a spirited manifesto

Presenting a case for agnosticism, Hazleton draws on philosophy, theology, and science to explore the vital role of mystery in today's seemingly information-rich world. In the book, she recasts the question of belief not as a problem that needs solving but as an invitation to an open-ended adventure of the mind.

Related disciplines: spirituality and theology.
3. Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

At its core, Americanah is a tender, moving tale of race and identity. Through the story of Ifemelu and Obinze — a story that spans three continents — Adichie discusses what it truly means to be black in today's society.

Related disciplines: cultural studies and immigration.
4. Love Wins: The Lovers and Lawyers Who Fought the Landmark Case for Marriage Equality by Debbie Cenziper and Jim Obergefell
love wins

Love Wins is the story of the lawyers, lovers, judges, and activists behind the unprecedented Supreme Court case that resulted in one of the most important civil rights victories in decades: the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Related disciplines: civil rights and social justice.
5. The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
the nest

In her debut novel, Sweeney chronicles the life of four adult siblings and the shared inheritance that has shaped their choices and lives. Warm and full of wit, the story is ultimately an examination of what money does to relationships and the undeniably powerful ties we share with those we love.

Related disciplines: sociology and literature.
6. Indentured: The Inside Story of the Rebellion Against the NCAA by Joe Nocera and Ben Strauss

Nocera and Strauss bring to light the controversial practices of the National College Athletic Association (more commonly known as the NCAA) in this hard-hitting, unapologetic examination of ethics in the world of sports.

Related disciplines: sports and justice.
7. Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg
smarter faster better

With dozens of real-life accounts from the fields neuroscience and social psychology, Duhigg uses stories to demonstrate how we can become smarter, faster, and better at everything we do without sacrificing what we care about most.

Related disciplines: psychology and behavioral economics.
8. Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa
your heart is a muscle the size of a fist

Over the course of one afternoon, the lives of seven very different people will change forever. In this gripping novel, Yapa examines human nature, the limits of compassion, and the fine line between what is right and what is possible.

Related disciplines: politics and sociology.

Interested in exploring more great selections for your common reading program? Browse our 2016 picks by clicking the banner below. If you'd like to a specific recommendation or a quote for a specific title, please reach out to with your request. Once you've found the right book, purchase your freshman common reading books in bulk with BookPal to receive great discounts, dedicated account management services, and more!


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