Selected from a list of 22 nominated titles, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” has been selected as the 2010-2011 book for CSUN’s Freshman Reading Program.
“We chose the book because it fit our selection criteria and because after vigorous discussion, and a little blogging, too, it seemed like the best choice,” said Cheryl Spector, director of the Academic First Year Experiences program. “The book really appealed strongly to most members of the selection committee.”
According to Spector, each fall, members of CSUN’s entering freshman class are invited to read a book selected by a volunteer committee of faculty, staff and students. There are also typically some campus-wide events related to the book and its themes each year. The point of the program is to offer students multiple opportunities for intellectual engagement as they build on the activities and friendships they likely established during the summer at New Student Orientation.
When searching for the new annual book, Spector explained the careful selection process and its many steps.
“The nomination of titles is open to pretty much anyone affiliated with CSUN, including students, (alumni), staff, faculty and administrators,” Spector said. “The committee takes a look at the nominated titles and meets in mid-fall each year to narrow them down to five or six semifinalists. Then committee members read as many of the five or six as they can in time for our early January meeting, when we–how shall I say it?–debate, discuss, defend, disagree, duel our way to ‘the winner.’”
Susanna Eng-Ziskin, First Year Experience librarian who is also on the selection committee, only had positive remarks to say about “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.”
“I have read the book and I absolutely love it,” Eng-Ziskin said. “I was drawn in immediately by the writing style, the stories and the main character. Once I started reading it, I had trouble putting it down. I almost read it in one sitting. I think it’s a book that most people will enjoy reading, including those freshmen who may not have read much fiction yet.”
Eng-Ziskin also stresses the importance of having a Freshman Reading Program established at CSUN.
“I like to think that it gives all students who read it, regardless of their background, something in common and something they can discuss,” Eng-Ziskin said. “It’s a gentle introduction to academic scholarship and discussion. Each semester, many events from Freshman Convocation to other lectures and outings, are planned around the topic or theme of the chosen book. Also, I think it’s great that a student might be discussing the themes of the book in different classes, and thus be exposed to different ways of thinking about the book that they may not have reached on their own. As a librarian and an avid reader, I also hope that it will encourage students to cultivate a love of reading, fiction or non-fiction, school related or just for fun.”
Kiren Dosanjh Zucker, faculty facilitator for one of the Spring 2010 Academic First Year Experiences Faculty Book Group on “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” explained how the book will be integrated into freshmen fall 2010 courses.
“Book group participants and I drafted suggestions for classroom exercises and assignments for freshman courses, in hopes of generating further ideas among other faculty on ways to integrate “The Curious Incident” into the curriculum in the fall,” Dosanjh Zucker said. “The program offers all of the chance to connect and strengthen our sense of community by sharing a common reading experience.”
According to Spector, being able to observe members of the CSUN community spreading the word about each year’s book and seeing the impact it has is a reward in itself.
“For faculty and students, it is intellectually fun to see how the book gets viewed from differing academic disciplines,” Spector said. “Books of the sort we’ve chosen thus far lend themselves to consideration from a variety of perspectives.”
For more information, please visit http://www.csun.edu/afye/.