Common Reading Program

The Common Reading Program gives all incoming first-year and transfer students a shared intellectual experience to kick off their Tufts experience. Each year, a committee of students, faculty and staff selects a book for all incoming Jumbos to read. The goal is to foster conversation and engender a sense of community to help ease the transition to college life. The program is co-sponsored by the John Barker, Dean of Undergraduate and Graduate Education, and the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life.

We will send you a copy of the selected Common Reading Book to your home address in the end of June. Please read the book before you arrive at Tufts and be ready to talk about it with your fellow students, orientation leaders and advisors.

Download a Free Copy of the Common Read and Join the Conversation

Common Reading 2016

This year the book will focus broadly on politics. This theme is designed to explore the political dimensions of pressing social problems, and the book is meant to be a springboard into critical thinking and discussion. The theme also ties into initiatives underway at Tufts as the university prepares for the upcoming national election. This is will be the first of many opportunities for you to discuss political issues inside and outside the classroom.

Lives in Limbo: Undocumented and Coming of Age in America by Roberto G. Gonzales

Roberto G. Gonzales

Over two million of the nation’s eleven million undocumented immigrants have lived in the United States since childhood. Due to a broken immigration system, they grow up to uncertain futures. In Lives in Limbo, Roberto G. Gonzales introduces us to two groups: the college-goers, like Ricardo, who had good grades and a strong network of community support that propelled him to college and DREAM Act organizing but still landed in a factory job a few short years after graduation, and the early-exiters, like Gabriel, who failed to make meaningful connections in high school and started navigating dead-end jobs, immigration checkpoints, and a world narrowly circumscribed by legal limitations. This vivid ethnography explores why highly educated undocumented youth share similar work and life outcomes with their less-educated peers, despite the fact that higher education is touted as the path to integration and success in America. Mining the results of an extraordinary twelve-year study that followed 150 undocumented young adults in Los Angeles, Lives in Limbo exposes the failures of a system that integrates children into K-12 schools but ultimately denies them the rewards of their labor.

Essay Contest

All entering undergraduates are invited to submit an essay addressing one of the chosen topics related to the Common Reading book. Essays must be submitted to by 5 p.m. on August 15. Winners will be announced at the Illumination Ceremony during Orientation. Winning essays will be posted online and the authors will receive a gift card to the Tufts Bookstore.

Learn More About the Common Reading Essay Contest

Questions about the program?

Contact Robert Mack, Associate Dean for Student Success and Advising

Previous Selections Have Included

  • Acts of Faith (by Eboo Patel)
  • The Other Wes Moore (by Wes Moore)
  • Whistling Vivaldi (by Claude Steele)
  • Zeitoun (by Dave Eggers)
  • This I Believe (edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gedimen)
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains (by Tracy Kidder)
  • All Souls (by Michael Patrick MacDonald)
  • The Blue Death (by Robert Morris)
  • Brother, I'm Dying (by Edwidge Danticat)
  • The Story of Stuff (by Annie Leonard)