What is Common Read?

The Common Read provides a shared experience of intellectual and community engagement by bringing the campus community together to read and discuss one book and its themes.


Intellectual engagement

  • First year student academic transition to college
  • Co-curricular programs bridging academic and student life
  • Interdisciplinary integration across the curriculum

Community engagement

  • Campus-wide dialogue and programs around one book
  • Brings together students, staff, and faculty
  • Fosters civility by exploring different views and experiences

How is the Common Read selected?

There are so many outstanding books to choose from. Based on our program goals, the following criteria is used to select books for CSUSM’s Common Read:

  • Noteworthy, acclaimed text (fiction or non-fiction)
  • Relevant, compelling, and timely topics and themes
  • Widely accessible (e.g. paperback, e-book, audio)
  • Curricular resources available (e.g. lesson plans, discussion guides, related links)

Selection Timeline

  • Fall Semester: Library faculty identify three or more options for upcoming Common Read.
  • Early Spring: Feedback is gathered from First Year Programs and a campus wide survey is administered.
  • Late Spring: Upcoming Common Read announced.
  • Summer: Fall events and programs planned.


CSUSM started its Common Read in 2011 when it partnered with local colleges to bring author Rebecca Skloot to San Diego County. This I Believe marked the beginning of CSUSM’s own Common Read.

2011-12 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

2012-13 Silent Spring by Rachel Carson

2013-14 This I Believe edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman

2014-15 The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

2015-16 I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Christina Lamb

2016-17 Sal Si Puedes (Escape If You Can) by Peter Matthiessen

2017-18 Between the World and me by Ta-Nehisi Coates 

2018-19 The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama & Desmond Tutu


Contact us

For questions, comments, and feedback regarding CSUSM’s Common Read, email commonread@csusm.edu or call 760.750.4333.

You can also post Common Read feedback on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages. What do you think of this year’s Common Read? Got an idea for a book related event? Tell us what you want to read next!

Start Reading Now!

The Book of Joy is available to all CSUSM students, staff, and faculty:

Check Out a Reserve Copy Borrow a copy for 2 hours or 1 week. Pick up from the 3rd floor Check Out Desk.