As part of a community-building experience, my current employer chooses a common book, which is given to all incoming freshmen before the start of their first year. Their residents halls use the book as a centerpiece of activities, lecturers (authors, or relatives of nonfiction characters, etc.) are invited for required events, and relevant themes are pulled from the book and discussed in First Year Seminar courses that cover many subjects.

Since I a.) love to read b.) quasi specialize in academic skills and c.) had some spare time, I volunteered to be part of the committee that is choosing our book for 2014.

In years past, they have chosen Ready: Player One, Zeitoun, The Hunger Games, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.

The university requests that there not be anything too controversial in the text. We are relatively near to a military base and in an area of the country where many students have military family members, so strongly anti-military/government messages are frowned on. The Omnivore's Guide was a near-finalist last year but met with some heavy, heavy resistance from some departments. (I saw some of you discussing it yesterday on the Jez mainpage and feel grateful that I wasn't on the subcommittee that read it.)

My brother in law (in publishing) has suggested: Everything Matters!, The Road, You Shall Know Our Velocity, White Noise, and American Pastoral. I haven't read any of them (yet) but if you have thoughts on any of these texts - or additional suggestions - I'd love some feedback.

Maybe even feel free to point me in the direction of my first must-read?

Help me shape the minds of our society's future leaders - one chapter at a time!