The Common Read

The Common Read and the Beyond the Common Read programming provide a venue for learning, sharing diverse points of view, fostering open discussion, and building respect for each other and new and different ideas.

Each year, the Diversity Action Committee (DAC), in consultation with school community members, chooses a book to serve as the Common Read. The Common Read is a signature school-wide initiative that provides opportunities for discussion, introduced through an annual Fall Common Read Kick-Off event, Common Read overview for all new and returning students at fall orientation, a brief discussion at the annual faculty retreat, and on-going workshops presented over the fall semester that are open to faculty, staff, and students. Faculty are encouraged to incorporate the subject matter into their courses throughout the year.

Beyond the Common Read is a suite of annual programs, designed and co-sponsored by the Office of DEI and Out and Allied Educators, that complement the themes of each year’s Common Read. These programs are a way for our community, in EHD and Grounds widely, to learn more and engage the topics and issues brought up each year’s Common Read.

Life Isn't Binary book title book jacket, block lettering in bold colors

This Year's Common Read

Life Isn't Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between, by Meg-John Barker and Alex Iantaffi. Combining their experience as academics, activists, and practicing therapists, Barker and Iantaffi illuminate how everyone can benefit from unpacking the binaries that have taken residence within them. Packed with exercises, reflections, writing prompts, and therapeutic guides, Life Isn’t Binary proposes topics such as intersectionality, race, and disability - not as debates, but experiences that afford us the opportunity to reconsider and reconfigure our relationship to the world. You can access the book through UVA Library’s ProQuest Ebook Central or pick up a copy in the ODEI office.

Three students sitting around a table outdoors engaged in friendly conversation

Common Read Book Clubs

Get a collection of friends, colleagues, or cohort mates together to form a book discussion group. New this year, ODEI is offering microgrants to fund book groups to engage in regular book club discussions about the Common Read, Life Isn’t Binary: On Being Both, Beyond, and In-Between.

Submit your Book Group Proposal
Out and Allied Educators logo. A circle shape with the Progress Pride Flag in the middle

Co-Sponsor Feature: Out and Allied Educators

Out and Allied Educators is a student affinity group at the school whose mission is to support members of the Queer community and to prepare our Allies to create safe educational spaces for gender-nonconforming youth. OAE is proud to co-sponsor Beyond the Common Read events this year to support the goals of visibility, inclusion, and belonging, by pulling educationally relevant topics out of the book for further inquiry and connection.

The Common Read

  • 2021-2022: Minor Feelings: An Asian American Reckoning by Cathy Park Hong (2020)
  • 2020-2021: The Privileged Poor by Anthony Abraham Jack (2019)
  • 2019-2020: Educated by Tara Westover (2018)
  • 2018-2019: Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism by Ron Suskind (2014)
  • 2017-2018: Why are all the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations about Race by Beverly Daniel Tatum (2017)
  • 2016-2017: Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis by Robert D. Putnam (2015)
  • 2015-2016: Waking Up White (and finding myself in the story of race) by Debby Irving (2014)
  • 2014-2015: Everyone Here Spoke Sign Language: Hereditary Deafness on Martha's Vineyard by Nora Ellen Groce (1988)
  • 2013-2014: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (2006)
  • 2012-2013: Whistling Vivaldi: How Stereotypes Affect Us and What We Can Do by Claude Steele (2011)
  • 2011-2012: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2010)

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Have a suggestion for future Common Reads?