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‘Go Big Read’ seeking book submissions featuring contemporary issues

December 14, 2016 By Käri Knutson

MADISON – So many books, so little time. It’s the grievance of every avid reader with a shelf full of books still waiting to be read.

It’s particularly challenging to choose just one book for the whole University of Wisconsin–Madison community to read as part of its Go Big Read program, especially when choosing one based on a specific theme. As a result, Go Big Read is opening up nominations to any book that has a contemporary theme that will lend itself to discussion.

Past themes have included inequality, service and global connections, all issues that will remain up for discussion for the 2017-18 year. Students, faculty, staff and members of the Madison community are encouraged to recommend titles for consideration by Jan. 22.

To suggest a book, visit here. After the submission period ends, a review committee will spend a month reading and discussing the suggested books before making recommendations to Chancellor Rebecca Blank, who will make the final selection.

“Our goal is always to pick a book that reflects what people are already talking about and encourage even more thoughtful discussion,” Blank says. “By opening up the submission process to be more inclusive, we will ensure that timely books with timely topics can be considered. I look forward to seeing what our community suggests.”

Books can be fiction or non-fiction. The ideal selection should have the following qualities:

  • Be readable, relevant, engaging and well-written
  • Appeal to people with diverse backgrounds and experiences
  • Encompass sufficient depth and scope to generate discussions from different points of view
  • Be conducive to teaching and learning, and offer opportunities for integration into academic programs
  • Lend itself to a variety of activities and programming

The ideal book might also have a subject or author with a Wisconsin connection, an author who may be able to visit campus, cross-disciplinary appeal, and promote the Wisconsin Experience by engaging “issues that matter.”

“Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” by alumnus Matthew Desmond was the 2016-17 selection for Go Big Read. It was just named as one of the Top Ten Books of 2016 by the New York Times and The Washington Post. Desmond received his doctorate from UW–Madison in 2010. He is an associate professor of sociology and social studies at Harvard University and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the UW. In 2015, he received a MacArthur “genius” grant.

The common-reading program aims to engage students, faculty, staff and the entire community around issues that matter from a range of perspectives. More than 220 UW–Madison classes are using “Evicted” as part of their curriculum.

Previous Go Big Read books include “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban” by Malala Yousafzai and “A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki.

The Go Big Read Program is sponsored by the Office of the Chancellor.