What is Common Read?

The Common Read provides a shared experience of intellectual and community engagement by bringing the campus community together to read and discuss one text and its themes.


Intellectual engagement

  • Student academic transition to college
  • Co-curricular programs bridging academic and student life
  • Interdisciplinary integration across curriculum

Community engagement

  • Campus-wide dialogue and programs around one text
  • Brings together campus community and surrounding communities
  • Fosters civility by exploring different views and experiences

How is the Common Read selected?

There are so many outstanding texts from which to choose! Based on the program goals outlined above, the CCRC uses the following criteria to help select different texts for CSUSM’s Common Read:

  • Noteworthy, acclaimed text which includes (but not limited to):  
    • printed fiction/ non-fiction books,  
    • book chapters,  
    • journal/magazine articles,  
    • videos,  
    • and other forms of media that encourage student learning and engagement 
  • Relevant, compelling, and timely topics and themes 
  • Widely accessible (e.g. paperback, e-book, audio, price, etc…) 
  • Curricular resources available (e.g. lesson plans, discussion guides, related links) 
  • Copyright granted or clear Creative Commons use policies 


What’s the criteria used in planning Common Read programming?

  • Alignment with CSUSM mission, vision, values, and strategic plan  
  • Impact (anticipated number of attendees)  
  • Committee representation at campus-wide events  
  • Partnerships with other units on campus and/or community groups  
  • Available resources, both budgetary and human  

Selection Timeline

  • Early Fall Semester:
    • CCRC members seek text suggestions from campus stakeholders
    • CCRC rank top five texts
  • Mid-Late Fall Semester:
    • A campus wide survey is administered to select the following academic year’s common read
  • Early Spring:
    • Upcoming common read announced.
  • Late Spring/Summer:
    • Upcoming common read events and programs planned by CCRC


CSUSM started its Common Read program in 2011 when it partnered with local colleges to bring author Rebecca Skloot to San Diego County. This I Believe marked the beginning of CSUSM’s own Common Read.

2011-12 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

2012-13 Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

2013-14 This I Believe edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman

2014-15 The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

2015-16 I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

2016-17 Sal Si Puedes (Escape If You Can) by Peter Matthiessen

2017-18 Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

2018-19 The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu

Campus Common Read Committee

The Campus Common Read Committee (CCRC) strives to represent the campus community at large, and they embody the spirit of harnessing individual efforts towards a collective goal: to engage our community in impactful, dynamic, and educational readings and events. They work closely with campus stakeholders to suggest new campus reads and support new and existing common read-related events to engage the campus community. CCRC members plan, execute, and assess common read programming as identified and agreed upon by the group.

CCRC Membership

  • Chair: 
    • Engagement & Inclusion Librarian


  • Standing members: 
    • First Year Programs Librarian  
    • Library Outreach Staff


  • Rotating members include representation from:  
    • Associated Students, Inc.
    • Faculty Center
    • First Year Programs Faculty
    • GEW Faculty
    • Office of Inclusive Excellence
    • Student Life


Contact us

For questions, comments, and feedback regarding CSUSM’s Common Read, email commonread@csusm.edu or call 760.750.4333.

You can also post Common Read feedback on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages. What do you think of this year’s Common Read? Got an idea for a book related event? Tell us what you want to read next!

Start Reading Now!

Reserves ​are available to all CSUSM students, staff, and faculty:

Check Out a Reserve Copy Borrow a copy for 2 hours or 1 week. Pick up from the 3rd floor Check-Out Desk.