One Book, One Campus invites UI community to vote for winner

By Emily Sokolik

The Illini Union Board’s One Book, One Campus Program began its selection process for this year’s campus-wide book on Monday. One Book, One Campus promotes a selected book to be read and discussed by University faculty, staff and students either inside or outside of the classroom.

Launched last year, the program is designed to create shared experiences between members of the University community through a book written by a living author.

“The One Book, One Campus Program is a community building initiative,” said Katie Hanlon, program advisor with the Union Board. “(We) hope to target anyone who is a member of this campus.”

The selection last year was “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” by Barbara Ehrenreich, a book that exposed the harsh realities of the American job market. Laura Bandy, University English professor, has incorporated the book into her class’s curriculum.

“I thought it would show my students a side of America that they usually don’t see,” she said. “Coming from the suburbs of Chicago and other places in Illinois, they may not be familiar with the plight of (low wage) workers.”

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A group of faculty, staff and students comprise the program’s selection committee, which met several times to determine this year’s book, Hanlon said.

“We try to come up with a diverse option of five books for the campus community to vote on,” she said. “There are some nonfiction, some fiction and some graphic novels.”

The five book choices for this year are “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, “Reefer Madness: Sex, Drugs, and Cheap Labor in the American Black Market” by Eric Scholosser, “Dreams from my Father” by Barack Obama and “Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi.

Any member of the University community is eligible to vote for these books through the Illini Union Board’s Web site or at the Illini Union Bookstore until March 19. The book with the most votes is the winner and “will be unveiled sometime at the end of March,” Hanlon said.

Campus Honors Program Director and English professor, Bruce Michelson, was a member of the selection committee both this year and last year.

“We look for books that will provoke conversation across disciplines,” he said. “It needs to have some kind of connection to larger issues.”

Programs related to the selected book will begin in the fall. A highlight of the programs last year featured a lecture by the author and an art show that donated proceeds to women charities. The program also spurred organized debates and book group meetings.

“For this year, we’re looking to beef that up and challenge ourselves,” Hanlon said. “We just want to bring people together.”