By Alina Hunter-Grah, Chattanooga, Tenn.– UTC’s common reading program, Read2Achieve, reveals “The Circle” by Dave Eggers as the book selection for the 2015-2016 school year.
Read2Achieve is a common reading program meant to help freshman transition into college and enhance upper classmen’s experience by providing them with a common topic to discuss. Books are picked for their ability to encourage thoughtful thinking, different cultural perspective, and relation to problems found commonly in our world.
“The Circle” follows the story of Mae Holland who has just accepted a job at a new Internet corporation where honesty and transparency is valued and rewarded. The line between her personal and professional life becomes blurred as she sees that the more the public knows about her life, the more popular she becomes. The book is meant to highlight the problems that occur when privacy does not exist anymore.
“I found ‘the Circle’ really intriguing because of the social media aspect as that is such a relevant topic in society right now,” states Allison Quintanilla, a senior from Nashville. “It’s a common saying that now people live to document events on social media rather than live for the moment itself. I think that the boundaries of social media, especially in the workplace, are beginning to blur which is something that ‘the Circle’ touches upon.”
In order to make a selection, the Read2Achieve committee goes through a long process of series of reviews and readings. The process begins by opening up a book suggestion submission link on their webpage at the beginning of the fall semester. This year the committee received more than 50 submissions which was then reduced the list to 20 books, and then to five. During the last six weeks of the winter semester, the entire committee read the five books and selected the novel best fitting their standards.
“We understand that our students are very active on social media. We also know that many of the faculty and staff are active on social media,”said Dr. Gretchen Potts, chair of the Read2Achieve committee. “Have both of these populations considered the implications of the privacy in relation to social media? Would video cameras actually promote honesty? There are also small sub-plots in the book that deal with Mae’s personal interactions with her friends and family. We hope the book will ignite many conversations around these issues. And of course, we hope the students would enjoy reading the book.”
The other top books considered were “Daytripper” by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, “The Ocean at the End of the Lane” by Neil Gaiman, “The Complete Persepolis” by Marjane Satrapi, and “Saints at the River” by Ron Rash.
“The Circle” will be available for sale in the bookstore. Incoming freshmen will be asked to read the novel over the summer and participate in discussions throughout the school year. Book clubs discussing the book will begin in February for upperclassmen.