The Five Finalists

  1. The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeanette Walls
  2. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  3. Just Like Us: The Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe
  4. Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion by Gregory Boyle
  5. Zeitoun by Dave Eggers


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Winning Title for 2011-2012: The Glass Castle

The Common Reading Selection Committee has chosen The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls as the Freshman Common Reading for 2011-2012.

Cover of "The Glass Castle": photograph of a thoughtful girl with her chin on her elbow.

The Glass Castle: A Memoir

Jeannette Walls, 2005

Nominated by: Ronit Sarig

More information: Interview with the author (CBS YouTube); New York Times book review by Francine Prose


Other Books Nominated for 2011-2012: Complete List

Cover of Tattoos on the Heart

Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion

Gregory Boyle, 2010

Nominated by: Anne Eggebroten

More information: Los Angeles Times book review; about Homeboy Industries


Cover of "The Hunger Games":golden bird with arrow on a black background

The Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins, 2008

Nominated by: Louise Xu and Sharron Kollmeyer Gerfen

More information: Review by Stephen King; another review in the Christian Science Monitor


Cover of "Just Like Us" showing  a sad young woman

Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America

Helen Thorpe, 2009

Nominated by: Scott Andrews

More information: New Yorker brief book review; longer discussion by CSUN professor Scott Andrews on CSUN's Common Reading blog


Cover of "Zeitoun" showing a man in a canoe


Dave Eggers, 2009

Nominated by Randal Cummings

More information: New York Times book review


Cover of "Bel Canto;: men in evening dress with a woman in an evening gown inside a villa.

Bel Canto

Ann Patchett, 2001

Nominated by: Joel Garcia

More information: Ann Patchett and Renee Fleming on NPR; Powell's Books Interview with Ann Patchett


Book cover of "The Culture of Fear" showing the word "fear" in bright red against a black background.

The Culture of Fear: Why Americans Are Afraid of the Wrong Things: Crime, Drugs, Minorities, Teen Moms, Killer Kids, Mutant Microbes, Plane Crashes, Road Rage...

Barry Glassner, 2010 (rev. ed.)

Nominated by: Scott Andrews

More information: Review of the first edition


Cover of "The Omnivore's Dilemma": grapes, an egg, a bone, and a mushroom.

The Omnivore's Dilemma

Michael Pollan, 2006

Nominated by: Carolyn Darin & Mary Shannon

More information: Common reading controversy at Washington State U; "Sacred Cows at Cal Poly SLO"


Cover of "The Hungry Tide" showing two people in a small boat silhouetted against sky and water.

The Hungry Tide

Amitav Ghosh, 2005

Nominated by: Nathan Weinberg

More information: Review by Alan Cheuse (NPR); longer review by Amardeep Singh (Lehigh U)


Cover of "Ishmael" by Daniel Quinn showing a leafy green branch against an orange and yellow sun.

Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit

Daniel Quinn, 2001

Nominated by: Beverly Cope

More information: "A Companion for Ishmael in the Classroom" (author's website)


Cover of "This I Believequot;:green wooden chair on a platform in a field of grass

This I Believe: The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

Ed. by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman. Vol. 1, 2006; or Vol. 2, 2008

Nominated by: Virginia Kennedy

More information: This I Believe website at


Cover of "In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts" showing ball and chain

In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction

Gabor Maté, 2008

Nominated by: Teresa Williams Leon

More information:


Cover of "To Kill a Mockingbird" showing  Scout beneath a leafless tree in which a mockingbird sings, all silhouetted against a full moon.

To Kill a Mockingbird

Harper Lee, 1960

Nominated in 2004 by: Karin Durán

More information: The Big Read (NEA); Lesson Plan (Library of Congress); "Orchestrating Learning" (CSUN)