Common Book Archives

2017-2018 Book Selection

The Circle Front Cover

The Circle is a 2013 dystopian novel written by American author Dave Eggers. It chronicles tech worker Mae Holland as she joins a powerful Internet company which starts out as an incredibly rewarding experience, but as she works there longer, things start to fall apart. It is Dave Eggers’s tenth published work of fiction.

SOURCE:  Wikipedia: The Circle (Eggers_novel)

2016-2017 Book Selection

Just Mercy Book Cover

A powerful true story about the potential for mercy to redeem us, and a clarion call to fix our broken system of justice—from one of the most brilliant and influential lawyers of our time.

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn’t commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machinations, and legal brinksmanship—and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

JUST MERCY is at once an unforgettable account of an idealistic, gifted young lawyer’s coming of age, a moving window into the lives of those he has defended, and an inspiring argument for compassion in the pursuit of justice.

SOURCE: Bryan Stevenson Homepage  

2015-16 Book Selection

Half a LIfe

In this powerful, unforgettable memoir, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss examines the far-reaching consequences of the tragic moment that has shadowed his whole life. In his last month of high school, he was behind the wheel of his dad's Oldsmobile, driving with friends, heading off to play mini-golf. Then: a classmate swerved in front of his car. The collision resulted in her death. With piercing insight and stark prose, Darin Strauss leads us on a deeply personal, immediate, and emotional journey - graduating high school, going away to college, starting his writing career, falling in love with his future wife, becoming a father. Along the way, he takes a hard look at loss and guilt, maturity and accountability, hope and, at last, acceptance. The result is a staggering, uplifting tour de force. Source: back cover of the 2011 Random House paperback edition.

2014-15 Book Selection


The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, written by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, details the story of William's life in a rural village in Malawi, Africa and his experience as an elementary school dropout who builds a working windmill from spare tractor and bike parts to generate electricity and clean water for his village.

The themes present in this book connected with each of Auburn's schools and colleges making it an excellent selection as a common book. Additionally, this book was chosen to highlight the author's personal struggles and successes as an avenue to teach our student body about resilience, creativity, and perseverance.

The Office of Sustainability and the College of Engineering hosted programs on sustainable energy while the Honors College featured movies about hunger and green energy during their Film Series in the fall. The author and subject, William Kamkwamba, visited Auburn High School and Auburn University in November to discuss his story and sign books.

2013-14 Book Selection


Nobodies, written by John Bowe, examines three illegal workplaces in America and its commonwealths where employees are literally or virtually enslaved.

This book was selected to expose our students to injustices happening on American soil and to encourage informed discussion and action.

The Office of Sustainability and the campus chapter of the International Justice Mission provided programming about civil and human rights. There were many speakers and documentary screenings highlighting the plight of present-day slaves. The author, John Bowe, visited in September to discuss his book and talk about the steps the public can take to stop slavery.

2012-13 Book Selection


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, written by Rebecca Skloot, tells the story of Henrietta Lacks and the HeLa cells, which changed the world of medical research.

Opposite of our previous selections, this book is about a woman and takes place in the US. This book was chosen because the many topics addressed in its pages provide ample opportunity for debate and critical thinking.

Anchored by programs in the Honors College and the Multicultural Office, there were many speakers, programs and films looking at the topics of race and bioethics. The year was capped off by a visit from Henrietta’s grandchildren, Kim and David, Jr. and the Director of Bioethics at Johns Hopkins, Dr. Ruth Faden.

2011-12 Book Selection


Mountains Beyond Mountains, written by Tracy Kidder, introduces us to Dr. Paul Farmer, an anthropologist and physician who has devoted his adult life to the medical care of the people in Haiti, Peru, and Russia who do not have access to adequate medical care otherwise.

The Auburn Connects! Committee selected this book because, like its predecessor, it provides a model of service for and encourages students to adopt a global worldview.

Numerous speakers led discussions on disparities in healthcare, Haiti, global service, and other related topics including a visit from author Tracy Kidder.

2010-11 Book Selection


Three Cups of Tea, written by David Oliver Relin, relates the story of Greg Mortenson's quest to build schools for both boys and girls in Pakistan and later Afghanistan.

The Auburn Connects! Committee selected this book because it provides a model of service for and encourages students to adopt a global worldview.

Campus enjoyed numerous speakers discussing education, service, relationships with these countries, and other related topics including a visit from Greg Mortenson, the subject of the book.

Last modified: July 24, 2017