Richard M. Smith Common Reading Experience

Reading matters.

The 2021 CRE selection is How To Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi.

It matters in our lives as students and teachers, as professionals and citizens, as critical thinkers and people trying to make our way in a wonderfully complicated and richly multicultural world.

It introduces us to ideas we may never have encountered and makes possible relationships that might not have existed without it.

It cultivates our imaginations and feeds our curiosity.

Perhaps most importantly, reading can provide and expand common ground.

Richard M. Smith, Albion alumnus and former Newsweek editor-in-chief, understood the power of reading to create community and engage our minds. That is why he endowed Albion College’s Richard M. Smith Common Reading Experience.

As a part of the CRE, all of Albion’s first-year students read a shared text that serves both to connect students to one another and to help them make the important shift from high school to college. Consistent with the College’s commitment to learning in and out of the classroom, the CRE involves both formal discussions in First-Year Seminars and informal discussions in the residence halls and around campus. Like the liberal arts, the dynamic and thoughtful CRE programming supports, challenges, expands, and enriches the students understanding of the core text and its ideas by helping them approach it from a number of different disciplinary perspectives.

The CRE is built on and affirms the deep relevance of reading and its ability to experience our world in more nuanced, thoughtful, and often joyful ways.

The 2021 CRE selection is How To Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi. First-year students will receive a copy of the book from their First-Year Seminar professor during the first week of Fall Semester classes.

Past Common Reading Experience Books

Common readings include:

  • 2021 – How To Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • 2020 – The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui
  • 2019 – The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui
  • 2018 – Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capo`Crucet
  • 2017 – Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capo`Crucet
  • 2016 – High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Societyby Dr. Carl Hart
  • 2015 – How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America by Kiese Laymon
  • 2014 – Here, Bullet by Brian Turner
  • 2013 – The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities by Will Allen
  • 2012 – A School for My Village: A Promise to the Orphans of Nyaka by Twesigye Jackson Kaguri
  • 2011 – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • 2010 – The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan
  • 2009 – Dreams from My Father by Barack Obama
  • 2008 – Thank You for Smoking by Christopher Buckley
  • 2007 – Darfur Diaries: Stories of Survival by Jen Marlowe, Aisha Bain, and Adam Shapiro
  • 2006 – Confluence: A River, The Environment, Politics & The Fate of All Humanity by Nathaniel Tripp
  • 2005 – West of Kabul, East of New York by Tamim Ansary
  • 2004 – Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston & James Houston
  • 2003 – The Laramie Project by Moises Kaufman
  • 2002 – Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich
  • 2001 – An American Story by Debra Dickerson
  • 2000 – A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind
  • 1999 – A Hope in the Unseen by Ron Suskind
  • 1998 – The Other Side of the River by Alex Kotlowitz
  • 1997 – Life on the Color Line by Gregory Williams
  • 1996 – The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  • 1995 – Savage Inequalities by Jonathan Kozol
  • 1994 – Black Ice by Lorene Cary
  • 1993 – A Typical American by Gish Jen
  • 1992 – Linden Hills by Gloria R. Naylor
  • 1991 – Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston