1. The Kite Runner was the freshman read when I started at Drew University. If you haven't read it yet, it is the story of a wealthy boy named Amir and his best friend and servant Hazara.
Topics for Discussion: Changes in the Middle East in years since the book was written, family, loyalty
2. Daring Greatly is Brene Brown's manifesto on the value of being vulnerable. What better time to learn vulnerability than the posturing of college?
Topics for Discussion: The necessity (or not) of criticism, vulnerability as strength, the different ways men and women face shame and vulnerability, courage in school/work and relationships
3. The Gilded Years is historical fiction based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black woman to graduate from Vassar College.
Topics: Racism, discrimination, evolution of education since 1800s
4. We Should All Be Feminists is a tiny book, based on a TED talk.
Topics for Discussion: Definition of Feminism, what it means to be a feminist, experiences of male and female students
5. Welcome to Braggsville follows four college students who plan to stage a performance protest at a Civil War reenactment.
Topics for Discussion: Racism, class, education, hero complexes
6. Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic novel where readers experience the new world through the eyes of a traveling band of musicians and actors.
Topics for Discussion: What is essential to humanity? Do we owe anything to our fellow people? Are the humanities perks or essential for our survival?
7. How We Learn is a book I wish I had read before I went to college. It breaks down learning techniques and shows readers why certain methods work better in certain situations.
Topics for Discussion: Ways that college does and does not set students up for learning, common myths about learning
8. The Empathy Exams is one of my favorite nonfiction books. This collection of essays follows medical actors, gang members, and endurance athletes to discover how we can empathize with people whose situations are very different than ours.
Topics for Discussion: Who is deserving of empathy, what we want from the people around us during dark times, what to do when we don't understand the pain of others
9. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the true story of a woman whose cells were used to cure dozens of diseases. She had no idea that it happened.
Topics for Discussion: Ethics of medicine, poverty, ethics in journalism
10. Tiny Beautiful Things sounds like a silly pick, but it's actually perfect. It's a collection of advice columns, where Cheryl Strayed answered questions about relationships and dreams for the future.
Topics for Discussion: Pretty much anything and everything
What books would you pick for the Freshman Read?