UNC chooses Toni Morrison’s ‘Home’ for summer reading

“Home,” the latest novel by Nobel laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Toni Morrison, will be the 2013 summer reading book for incoming students at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

A nine-member selection committee of students, faculty and staff selected the book from five finalists. Students on the committee described “Home” as an inspiration to first-year students in their academic, personal and social lives as they leave their homes to come to Carolina.

Christopher Putney, associate professor of Russian in the department of Germanic and Slavic languages and literatures and chair of the committee, said that students will be able to relate to “Home.”

“The committee agreed that this book should resonate with our incoming Carolina first-year students, as many of them will be leaving their own homes and making new homes and supportive communities for themselves,” he said.

New students who will enroll next fall are expected and encouraged to read the book this summer and participate in small group discussions on the Monday before classes start in the fall. The program, now in its 15th year, aims to stimulate critical thinking outside the classroom and give new students intellectual common ground. An academic icebreaker, it encourages students to engage with the scholarly community and come to their own conclusions about the material.

“Home” is the story of a man who joins the army to escape his too-small world, leaving behind his cherished and fragile little sister, Cee. After the war, his shattered life has no purpose until he hears that Cee is in danger.

The other four finalists were “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo; “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz; “Salvage the Bones” by Jesmyn Ward; and “The Speed of Dark” by Elizabeth Moon. The committee considered fiction and nonfiction.

Since the program began in 1999, it has featured “There Are No Children Here” by Alex Kotlowitz; “Confederates in the Attic” by Tony Horwitz; “The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down” by Anne Fadiman; “Approaching the Qur’an” by Michael Sells; “Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America” by Barbara Ehrenreich; “Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point” by David Lipsky; “Blood Done Sign My Name” by Timothy B. Tyson; “The Namesake” by Jhumpa Lahiri; “The Death of the Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions” by Sister Helen Prejean; “Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights” by Kenji Yoshino; “A Home on the Field” by Paul Cuadros; “Picking Cotton” by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton; “Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer; and “The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr.