Colleges around the country are increasingly assigning summer reading to incoming freshmen. Credit: Fuse Colleges around the country are increasingly assigning summer reading to incoming freshmen.
Credit: Fuse

Whether while riding SEPTA on the way to an internship or on a lawn chair by the beach, thousands of incoming college freshmen will make time to finish their assigned summer reading before moving in to the dorms. Typically, colleges and universities handpick books that spark conversation and integrate programming into freshman orientation to promote this discussion. Metro took a look at what some schools in the Philadelphia area are reading – we hope at least one of them will pique your interest!

University of Pennsylvania

The Penn Reading Project gives incoming students their first opportunity to participate in an intellectual discussion with faculty, which takes place during New Student Orientation in small groups. This year’s Penn Reading Project book, Anne Fadiman’s“The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down”, was chosen in accordance with the Provost’s announcement that the 2014-2015 theme year topic will be the Year of Health, as it centers on an family immigrating to California from Laos whose young daughter is diagnosed with severe epilepsy. The book, published in 1997, addresses global issues in medicine and the American healthcare system, and cultural misunderstanding in the field is a recurring theme in the story.

Villanova University

All students who will be attending the university in the coming school year – incoming first-years through rising seniors – will receive the book “The Other Wes Moore” by Wes Moore through the One Book Villanova program. The author is scheduled to speak at the university in the fall as the first in a series of programs throughout the academic year involving his New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller. In his nonfiction book, Wes Moore documents his story and that of another man of the same name, both of whom grew up in the same city but led drastically different lives. While the author grew up to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran and White House Fellow, his new acquaintance, with whom he corresponded with for several years, is incarcerated serving a life sentence for murder.

Lehigh University

First-years at Lehigh have the opportunity to choose between two novels as their summer reading book. One, “Class Matters” is the product of more than a year of investigation by a team of New York Times reporters who explored “ways that class – defined as a combination of income, education, wealth and occupation – influences destiny in a society that likes to think of itself as a land of unbounded opportunity” The New York Times wrote on its website. The other, Bathsheba Monk’s “Now You See it … Stories from Cokesville, PA”, is a Chicago Tribune Best Book of the Year – a series of short stories about small-town life in the fictional coal-and-steal country town of Cokesville.