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Common Reading 2020: Home



Dear Reader, 

Welcome to the Reading and Teaching Guide for the Common Reading! Whether you’re a professor wondering what activities you could use in your class to incorporate the text or a student looking for more information on a piece, we have the information you’re looking for. Find sample discussion questions, activities, related resources, and bios from all our contributors. You can also find a full online version of the text.

Enjoy our lovely guide and remember to keep being curious!


Joanna Messineo and Ryan Wilson, Teaching Guide Editorial Interns 2019-2020



Emily Graslie
Thursday, Sept. 17, 2020—7:30 p.m.

Emily Graslie was born and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota. After moving to Missoula, Montana, to pursue an undergraduate degree in fine art painting, she fell in love with the campus vertebrate research collection as a place of artistic inspiration. What started off as a passionate volunteering position within a small museum eventually transformed into a full-time career as an advocate for these under-appreciated repositories. Now she lives in Chicago and works as The Field Museum's "Chief Curiosity Correspondent," where she uses a variety of new media to communicate the importance of natural history museums with the world.

Letter to the Reader

Note to the Curious Reader

Do you wonder how the anthology you hold in your hands came to be? 
Well, to start, this cover is inspired by the I Spy children’s book series. It contains picture-clue riddles related to what lies in the pages of this book. Keep reading this note for instructions on how to play. 

The Common Reading Program itself begins with two former SU students, Bonnie Bucks Reece ’65 and James S. Reece ’95, whose generous gift makes what we do possible. Each fall, we start the search for a university theme. Students, faculty, and staff members contribute ideas, and the “theme committee” narrows down the list to find a theme that works across majors and programs. Past themes have included Memory, Fear, Humor, Adventure, Passion, Conflict, Resilience, the Power of Stories and others (find the whole list on our website). The whole campus votes in early spring. As you might have guessed, “Curiosity” won this year’s vote.  

Still reading? This bodes well for you. After we know the theme, our curious team of Common Reading interns, led this year by Jordyn Taylor ‘21, gathers stories, poems, scholarly articles, news items, and essays that seemed to speak to it. People from the campus community also nominate texts. The editorial interns read everything and then present their top choices to the Common Reading Advisory Board. One editor contacts publishers for permission to reprint these texts. Another asks SU campus members to write introductions and collects contributors’ biographical information. The design editors create a brand new layout and cover and send their copyedited work to a local printing press. Meanwhile, the teaching editors compile an interactive Reading & Teaching Guide. Check it out here: 

Finally, we choose one of the people featured in the book to visit in the fall. This year, Emily Graslie, a YouTube personality and Chief Curiosity Correspondent for Chicago’s Field Museum, will visit Susquehanna University on September 17, 2020 to give the annual Common Reading Lecture. In her interview featured in this anthology, Emily says, “Learning makes me happy. Learning contributes to my overall wellbeing. And I just wish more people could experience that.”  

This year’s special addition is the picture-riddle challenge! Try to match each reading with an image in our cover photograph, made up of items collected from our personal lives. There may be more than one right answer, but you’ll find our answers in the Reading & Teaching Guide. In the spirit of happy curiosity, we now turn this book over to you. 

Dr. Catherine Zobal Dent 
Common Reading Program Coordinator 

Read the Common Reading


Read the full text of the common reading by signing into mysu!

SU THEME 2020-2021


Learning starts with questions, and questions start with curiosity.  When we were children, we were curious about everything, so much so that our parents lost patience with us at times.  "Why?" we wondered. Now our students sigh and roll their eyes when a question starts with "Why?" What happened to that childlike spirit of curiosity? 


Albert Einstein said, "It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education," and, "The important thing is to not stop questioning."  A person without curiosity is like a mushroom, sitting in the dark and eating you-know-what. A person with curiosity is like a tree straining to reach the light.  Just as saplings send their roots questing through the earth in search of sustenance and their branches grasping into the sky in search of light, curiosity motivates us to seek out knowledge, experiences, and perspectives that can sustain us for a lifetime. 


Theme proposed by Alathea Jensen, Professor of Mathematics


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