Common Reading

Within the pages of the Common Reading book you will find ideas, inspiration and community with your fellow honors students.

The UArizona Honors College Common Reading Program is designed to facilitate learning among Honors students around a common experience. The program is designed to encourage community building, complement curriculum, and offer opportunities for self-reflection, critical thinking, and practical application of knowledge across disciplines.

The 2021 selection is a book that we believe will resonate with the wide range of students in the Honors College.

Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation edited by John Freeman

America is broken. You don’t need a fistful of statistics to know this. Visit any city, and evidence of our shattered social compact will present itself. From Appalachia to the Rust Belt and down to rural Texas, the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest stretches to unimaginable chasms. Whether the cause of this inequality is systemic injustice, the entrenchment of racism in our culture, the long war on drugs, or immigration policies, it endangers not only the American Dream but our very lives.

In Tales of Two Americas, some of the literary world’s most exciting writers look beyond numbers and wages to convey what it feels like to live in this divided nation. Their extraordinarily powerful stories, essays, and poems demonstrate how boundaries break down when experiences are shared, and that in sharing our stories we can help to alleviate a suffering that touches so many people. 

Students should plan to purchase and read the book. By reading the book over the summer, students will be prepared to start the academic year ready to engage in discussions and activities connected to the book. You will have opportunities to think about what the book means and how it might affect the way you interact with others and see the world.

Purchase the Book (ISBN-10: 0143131036; ISBN-13: 978-0143131038)


Barnes & Noble


About the author

Tales of Two Americas: Penguin Random House

Tales of Two Americas: NPR Review

John Freeman 


Previous Common Reading selections have included:

2020 – The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú

2019 – What the Eyes Don’t See by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha

2018 – On Trails by Robert Moor

2017 – Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

2016 – Citizen by Claudia Rankine

2015 – In the Shadow of the Banyan by Vaddey Ratner

2014 – The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

2013 – Planetwalker by Francis Walker

2012 – Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle

2011 – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

2010 – Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card

2009 – White Gloves by John Kotre

2008 – Ishmael by Daniel Quinn

2007 – Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi