The purpose of the Freshman Reading Program is to prepare students to engage in independent reading as they develop a “life of the mind”. This reading is not related to any particular program of study. Nominations for the Freshman Reading can come from any member of the Paine College community (faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends of the college). A committee of students from the previous freshman class will identify the selected freshman reading by the last week of March. All new students should purchase and read the Selected Freshman Reading and come to campus prepared to discuss the book as a part of formal and informal learning sessions. Other books that were nominated should be considered as a part of the reading that should be done as students engage in their undergraduate education. 

2013 Freshman Reading

The Bond by Sampson Davis, George Jenkins and Rameck Hunt

Relationships are some of the driving forces in the lives of college students. There is a need to modify relationships with family members and high school friends. There are opportunities to develop new relationships with colleagues and professors. There are the possibilities of developing lasting relationships that will impact the future. The Bond is a book about how relationships between fathers and sons impacted the lives of three successful men. The Bond is the second book written by the authors of The Pact, the story of three inner city youth who made a pact to support each other in achieving their goals of becoming successful professionals. Although the Freshman Reading for 2013 is The Bond, I hope this inspires the Paine College community to read both books and to open dialogue on how we can ensure that every member of the Freshman Class of 2013 earns a degree from Paine College.

Dr. Tina Marshall-Bradley
Director, Paine College Honors Program

The books listed below were nominated for the freshman reading. Members of the campus community are encouraged to read these books also during the 2013-2014 academic year.


Drive: The Surprising Truth about What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink

Daniel Pink’s Drive is not for the faint of heart. It is filled with a copious amount of knowledge which makes it practically impossible to not be enlightened after reading this book. When reading this book it is hard to not ask yourself some of the questions that are related to Pink’s main argument’s. Which way of motivation would work for me, and would make me a more productive [person]? Some of the information that Pink has revealed has been present, but has just gone unnoticed for quite some time. As children we were always told to do what we are passionate about for a career, but most people always end up going where the money is. I feel like this book would be a great read for the upcoming freshmen class of 2013.

Ms. Jordan Rutland
Sophomore, Biology major

Room by Emma Donoghue

Emma Donoghue’s novel, Room, tells the story of a mother and her son, living in captivity in an 11-by-11 secured shed in a kidnapper’s backyard. Donoghue invites readers in to the lives of Jack and Ma through the eyes and mind of a child. As Jack learns, so do readers, usually learning much more than Jack can understand. As readers enter Room, they become astounded as if they are, like Jack, entering the world for the first time. This novel is a must-read because it is a lesson in disguise.

Ms. Jasmine Ford
Sophomore, Chemistry

Year of the Griffin by Dianna Wynne Jones

Being a freshman, I was able to identify with the characters in the novel. Besides academics, the six students learn to adjust to a new environment away from their families by joining clubs on campus and making friends. The students discover more about themselves and each one eventually finds love. I found the novel quite humorous. The intended audience of the novel is generally anyone who enjoys fantasy books. However, like I did, many first-time freshmen could relate to some of the characters described in the novel. Therefore, I would strongly recommend this book to any student attending boarding school or university for the very first time.

Ms. Chimwemwe Mwase
Freshman, Biology major

The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea

The Devil’s Highway is totally engaging and compelling and the author makes you feel every moment with the Wellton 26 as if you were part of the adventure. The Devil’s Highway has 220 pages and it is divided into four parts with sixteen chapters. The cover of the book typically depicts an isolated desert filled with emptiness. Urrea includes an author’s note, revealing the sources of his writing. He pulled his account of The Devil’s Highway from numerous sources, such as interviews and travel. In addition, he was fortunate to have access to documents and reports from the governments of both Mexico and the United States.

Ms. Floribirth Nwokocha
Freshman, Biology major

Just Like Us: The True Story of Four Mexican Girls Coming of Age in America by Helen Thorpe

This book is a coming-of-age story recounted by Helen Thorpe the wife of Denver Mayor, John Hickenlooper. Thorpe was born in London, England in 1965 to Irish immigrants. A year later her family immigrated into the United States. Thorpe was able to connect with the girls in her story because she knew the difficulty that being an immigrant. This book is about finding ones identity not only in today’s technological culture, but also in the culture of our ancestors.

Ms. Fatima Ojeda Rojas
Sophomore, Business – MIS major

Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagen

Whistling in the Dark tells the story of inner-workings of a community, sibling bonds, childlike perception, and dealing with loss, family and teenage pregnancy, mystery, discovering the truth, innocence and corruption. This novel brought out the in depth feeling of loss and separation in the family; especially its impact on children. It is a beautiful story that reflects community life and the bravery of children. I absolutely enjoyed it from the first to the last page. I recommend this novel to both young people and adults.

Mr. Jude Chika Okanya
Freshman – Business major

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, written by Jamie Ford, is a historical fiction novel. The author narrates the story within the novel from the perspective of Henry, a young Chinese boy. The story is set during the time of World War II, right after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Despite his cultural background and against the wishes of his disapproving parents, young Henry falls for Keiko, a young Japanese girl. Amidst the novel’s depiction of an important historical era lurks the story of true love shared by Henry and Keiko. Regardless of what draws them, the history or the romance, readers will certainly enjoy and appreciate this novel. I would encourage my peers to read this novel because it provides a glimpse of what people endured after Pearl Harbor and how the Japanese attack affected so many Americans. Through this novel, I have gained a better understanding of Internment camps and the controversy associated with them.

Ms. Jade Phelps
Sophomore, Biology major

One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni

As an astounding short-story writer, poet, professor, and novelist, Chitra Divakaruni uses her very descriptive and enticing writing style to convey the life accounts of nine people in her novel One Amazing Thing. The novel takes place in San Francisco, CA in the basement, turned passport office, of the Indian Consulate after an extreme earthquake. Divakaruni really helps the reader to understand each character through her writing style; although sometimes confusing the novel was very well constructed. I was able to agree with each character. In the beginning of the book I found it quite frustrating trying to connect with them, but after reading their stories and getting more of an incite I learned to favor each character. Personally, I really enjoyed the book. I enjoyed being able to feel as if I am a part of the story, as if my opinion really matters. The tension and stress that Divakaruni creates makes the book a page-turner.

Ms. Maya Stephens
Freshman, Biology major

Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

Outliers: The Story of Success is [a work of] non-fiction. The author, Malcom Gladwell, focuses on vignettes throughout the book. The book focuses on outliers and their stories. Each story makes the point that success is not just about hard work. Success is a result of a combination of things raging from the amount of time spent engaged in the activity to the right circumstances. The author used various vignettes in order to illuminate the point that more often than not hard work and intelligence are not the only keys to achieving success. The book really opened my eyes, and it changed my ideas about how I perceived success. The book’s theme and motif is to make people reexamine how success is achieved. The book’s theme and motif is effective because each vignette analyzes and examines success.

Ms. Sharifah Williams,
Sophomore, Media Studies major

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

Me Talk Pretty One Day is a New York Times best-selling essay collection that can be read by a variety of ages but I believe would truly be enjoyed by young adults. Divided into two parts, the first half of Me Talk Pretty One Day focuses on David’s upbringing in America while the second half focuses on his move to France. If you aren’t drawn in by the first chapter regarding Sedaris’s ability to outwit his speech therapist into believing he no longer has a lisp by avoiding words with the ‘s’ sound, you are sure to be drawn in by the second. The author’s writing style makes this short book easy to follow and much more personable. Readers are sure to laugh aloud as they follow Sedaris as he faces the typical challenges of an American adolescent as he goes from a child into adulthood in a not so typical way. However in order for readers to understand exactly how David arrived at such a simplistic yet captivating title, readers will have to follow him on a 288 page adventure.

Ms. Tianna Williams
Sophomore, Sociology major