‘One Book, One Campus’ aims to create unique shared experience

By Tracy Douglas

The Author’s Corner of the Illini Union bookstore has many books on the shelves, and Wednesday, one more was added.

Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in America by Barbara Ehrenreich was announced as the winning novel of the “One Book, One Campus” contest.

The Illini Union hopes to foster a shared experience for the University community with its One Book, One Campus campaign, said Illini Union director Ed Slazinik.

The One Book, One Campus program was inspired by a trend of book groups in cities around the country, such as Chicago’s One Book, One City.

Lance Wright, assistant director of the Illini Union, said he was moved by the marketing for Denver’s similar campaign while being there for a conference.

“The Illini Union is about building a community … It didn’t take me too long to think everyone reading the same book equals a shared experience,” Wright said.

Slazinik said this book will spark discussion, but also said all of the books that were voted on seemed to be able to provide some discourse.

“It speaks to a lot of concerns that people have,” said Professor Kal Alston, director of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University. She also said the author describes what it is like to live as those who are the working poor in America by taking jobs as a waitress and at Wal-Mart.

Alston said the book had parallels to Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin because Ehrenreich is attempting to describe how low-income families are living by taking low-wage jobs.

There will be many ways for community members to participate in the program, Wright said.

Wright said they hoped to be able to bring Ehrenreich to campus for a speech and to have discussions about Wal-Mart’s role in society.

Ashley Moore, a sophomore in LAS at the University, said it would be interesting to read a book and have the chance to meet with the author.

“When I read a book, I tend to look at it from my own point of view. But if the author were to share their perspective, it would be beneficial as a reader,” Moore said.

“Some might just want to come see the author. Some might just come to one program or come to a book group,” Wright said. He said there will be a one-day book group and once-a-week book groups that people can join depending on how much time they have. He said the Union plans on having an online discussion group and reaching out to existing book groups.

Meghan Bogaerts, a member of the Illini Union Board’s lectures committee, said while she was really excited about the program at first, she doubted it would be received positively by others. Then she said she started speaking to people and got a favorable response.

“People I didn’t even know read books turned out that they did (read), just in the privacy of their own home,” Bogaerts, a junior in LAS, said.

Wright said the book was taught in University classes before and is being taught now in a University High School class on social justice.

“It would be cool to get high school and college students to interact over the book,” Wright said.

He said if teachers expressed interest in integrating the book into their classes, the Union would help them.

Moore said having the book in class “would make it catch on.”

Nickel and Dimed is now available at the Illini Union bookstore for $7.50.