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Common Reader

common reading 

In 2012, Norfolk State University expanded its Common Reading program to include the reading of a common text by first-year students, guided discussions during first-year orientation, integration into the first-year seminar course, and author talks. The campus community will be digging deeper into the text, while new opportunities will be available to engage in campus events centered around the Common Reading Book. Common Reading is all about building community, enriching curriculum, and increasing scholarly engagement. 
“We are excited to re-introduce the Common Reader Initiative. This is a campus-wide program and component of our QEP, close reading for effective writing (CREW). A key component to academic engagement is cultivating community and implementing initiatives that foster student success. The common reader program at NSU offers both strategies. I encourage you to join us in the journey of reading this year’s selection.”

-Dr. Andrea Neal
 Associate Vice Provost, Office of Academic Engagement  
cOMMON READER OF 2023: The Beautiful Struggle
From the author of BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME, comes a brilliant    coming-of-age story. In The Beautiful Struggle we meet Paul Coates: a  Vietnam vet and a Black Panther, an old-school disciplinarian and an  Aquarian believer in free love, a radical publisher, and a reclaimer of lost histories. Most of all, he was an enigmatic god to his seven children, with a mission to carry them across the shoals of inner-city adolescence and through the collapsing civilization of Baltimore in the Age of Crack. His main challenges were Ta-Nehisi, spacey and comically miscalibrated for his environment, and Big Bill, charismatic and equipped for the streets. This thrillingly original story about fathers and sons evokes the golden moments within a dark age and chronicles - in startlingly beautiful language - the richly complex interior lives of boys trying to become men.
COMMON READER OF 2022: the twelve tribes of hattie
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie is the multi-generational story of one family, part of the Great Migration of African-Americans who left the South to escape hatred and oppression and seek opportunity in the North. An intimate portrait captured in twelve luminous narrative threads, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie opens in 1923, when fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at a better life. Instead, she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins succumb to an illness a few pennies could have prevented. Hattie gives birth to nine more children whom she raises with grit and mettle and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave. That lack of love, as well as other travails, causes suffering to ripple through the generations.

Learn more about the Twelve Tribes of Hattie and the author 


For more about our Common Reader Iniative, please contact us at