Requests from faculty are now being accepted for digital exam copies of Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation, the 2021-22 common reading book.

“Anyone considering using the book for courses or programming aimed at students is encouraged to complete the online request for a digital exam copy,” said Karen Weathermon, director of First-Year Programs, of which the Common Reading Program is a part.

Tales of Two Americas was selected by Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Chilton to be the fifteenth common book since the program began on the Pullman campus in 2007.

In a letter to Weathermon detailing her choice, Chilton wrote, “This book’s topic is critically important, and every student at WSU should have the opportunity to join the 36 contemporary writers in examining life in a deeply divided America.”

The book was published in 2017 by Penguin Random House Books. An anthology, it features non-fiction essays, short stories, and poems about class, socioeconomic, and racial inequalities across many regions of the U.S., including the Pacific Northwest cities of Boise, Portland, and Seattle. The 36 authors represent a spectrum ranging from the well-known to the emerging.

WSU common reading books are most often used in courses aimed toward first-year students, but faculty teaching at any level and on any campus are welcome to consider course use. Topics raised in the books help stimulate discussions among faculty and students, and help create an academic community built around scholarship. For the second year, the WSU Vancouver Common Reading book will be Tell Me Who You Are by Winnona Guo and Priya Vulchi, a book which raises many of the same themes and topics as Tales of Two Americas.

In the 2020-21 academic year, the Common Reading program hosted and collaborated with 20 other campus units system-wide to provide 80 remote events, double the events of previous years.  Attendance at the year’s events exceeded 1,600 students, faculty, and staff, with 42% attending more than one event. Weathermon anticipates that the coming year’s programming will continue to draw on relevant and important work occurring across the WSU system.

Weathermon also noted that for the first time in over a decade, copies of the book will be provided to incoming first-year Pullman students completing Alive orientation sessions.