First Year Experience | Common Read | One Book
These titles explore identity, American culture, and the classic coming of age story—and rally communities around hope, social change, and our shared humanity.
The Tradition details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown’s poetic concerns are both broad and intimate, and at their very core a distillation of the incredibly human: What is safety? Who is this nation? Where does freedom truly lie? The Tradition is a cutting and necessary collection, relentless in its quest for survival while reveling in a celebration of contradiction.
An American Sunrise
In this powerful and stirring collection, Joy Harjo reflects on moving to her tribe’s original lands for the first time, on the blessings and difficulties of remembering and re-experiencing her tribe’s forced removal, and on being innately and irrevocably connected to her ancestors. From the memory of her mother’s death to her beginnings in the Native rights movement, Harjo’s intimate life intertwines with tribal history in poems that sing of beauty and survival.
The Poet X
Xiomara Batista feels unheard in her Harlem neighborhood. But she has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers. With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend. But Xiomara refuses to be silent.
World of Wonders
Aimee Nezhukumatathil has called many places home, but no matter where she’s been transplanted, she has always been able to turn to the fierce and funny creatures around her for guidance. Even in the strange and the unlovely, Nezhukumatathil finds beauty and kinship. For it is this way with wonder: it requires that we are curious enough to look past the distractions in order to fully appreciate the world’s gifts. Warm, lyrical, and gorgeously illustrated by Fumi Nakamura, World of Wonders is a book of sustenance and joy.
Claudia Rankine’s bold new book recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in 21st century daily life and in the media. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race”society.