Common Reading Program

Kent State University 2014 Common Reading Book Announced

The Common Reading Committee and the Office of Student Success Programs is pleased to announce the selection of this year’s Kent State Common Reading book The Circle by Dave Eggers. The book follows Mae Holland as she is hired to work for the Circle, the world’s most powerful internet company, she feels she’s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users’ personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company’s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can’t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world—even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman’s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge.

About the author: Dave Eggers is a well-known author whose works have received a significant amount of critical acclaim. He is also the co-founder of the literacy project 826 Valencia and the founder of ScholarMatch, a program that matches donors with students needing funds for college tuition.

We are no longer in need of Common Reading Facilitators for the 2014 Common Reading Discussion. Please check back to this page next year between May and August to volunteer.

The Common Reading Program is regularly seeks 200 faculty, staff and alumni to facilitate book discussions during Destination Kent State: Welcome Weekend. The Common Reading Program will involve a one hour discussion on Friday, August 22, 2014 from 2:00pm-3:00pm. Prior to the actual discussion, discussion leaders will be provided with a copy of the book, a training session, and discussion materials. There will be several training sessions that will be held throughout the summer for new and returning discussion leaders.

Faculty, staff and alumni interested in serving as discussion leaders can sign up by clicking the button above. The sign-up deadline is Friday, August 1st, 2014.

Sign Up to Be a Common Reading Discussion Leader

Note on Cheating and Plagiarism

Students must submit his or her own work for the assignment. According to the University Cheating and Plagiarism Policy: Students enrolled in the university, at all its campuses, are to perform their academic work according to standards set by faculty members, departments, schools and colleges of the university. When quoting or paraphrasing, a citation should be provided. Please consult the policy for cheating and plagiarism for reference:

Administrative Policy Regarding Student Cheating and Plagiarism

What is the Common Reading Program?

The Common Reading Program is designed to welcome and connect incoming students to the Kent State University academic community. It is our hope that reading the book will provide common ground for our new students to share with their peers. The objectives of the program are…

  • To help students get acclimated to the academic life of the university.
  • To provide students with an understanding of the university values, principles, and standards.
  • To build and maintain relationships that foster success with peers, faculty, staff, administrators, and community members.

All new students will discuss the book with faculty, staff or community members on August 22nd, 2014 during Destination Kent State: Welcome Weekend. The program, as a whole, will build a supportive and encouraging atmosphere that will ease the transition to university life. The book will be available for purchase at the University Bookstore in May.

The Common Reading Assignment

The Common Reading discussion is a great way for students to practice being an active participant in a college classroom. Below are questions that will help you to participate in the discussion. Please answer the questions on a separate piece of paper (typed) and bring it with you to the required book discussion on Friday, August 22nd from 2:00pm-3:00pm.

  1. Many of the technologies the author invents in The Circle seem futuristic, but they are not so far from realities that exist now in 2014. After finishing the novel, did you find this overlap between fact and fiction unsettling? Did it affect how you personally engage with technology?
  2. For a company that thrives on order and efficiency, the Circle also seems to endorse—require, even—loose and extravagant socializing. What do these two seemingly opposite values say about what working for them entails? How does Mae’s value set evolve to accommodate these expectations?
  3. During one of her visits home, Mae tells Mercer, “I guess I’m just so easily bored” by what he considers a normal tempo of speech, but what Mae considers “slow motion” compared with the Circlers’ communication in person and online (p.130); and later that night, going through her Circle account to answer queries and social requests, she feels “reborn” (p.135). How much of this shortened attention span is evident in our society today? In the end, are Mae’s instantaneous relationships more or less gratifying than she expects?
  4. Please write a discussion question that you would pose to your discussion group.

Common Reading FAQs

Who Participates in the Common Reading Discussion?

All new incoming freshman students will participate.

Where will the Common Reading Discussion take place?

You will be notified of your Common Reading Discussion location when you check in for Welcome Weekend. Students will meet with their First Year Experience (FYE) class as their assigned group for the discussion. You will NOT be in your regularly scheduled FYE course location. 

Is the book for a class?

This experience is intended as an academic component for Welcome Weekend and the book is not tied to a specific class. Some FYE Instructors and other course instructors adopt the book for their course for the semester. It is not an expectation of FYE instructors to adopt the book as part of the class

Do my assignment responses need to be typed?

Yes, please type your responses to the questions. Be sure to include your name on the page.

How long do my responses need to be?

You should provide a minimum of 3 sentences per question. Some questions may require a list with explanation.

Will I be turning in my assignment questions?

You will be utilizing your answers to the questions during the Common Reading Discussion. It is also possible that you may be asked to turn in your responses to your discussion leader or FYE instructor.