Common Read

The Common Read is a student’s first college reading assignment, and books are distributed at June Orientation. As part of new student arrival in August, all first-year students join their classmates, upperclass students, faculty, and staff in an engaging discussion of the book. Throughout the year, various programs and events carry through themes emerging from the reading.

The Common Read Committee has prepared a guide for facilitators. If you’re interested in delving deeply into a specific theme, please see the expanded facilitators guide, with questions and quotations from the book arranged by topic. There will be an optional workshop for facilitators from 3:00 to 4:30 pm on Tuesday, August 20 in the Digital Auditorium in the Hurley Convergence Center. Facilitators may wish to review guidelines for attendance and safe spaces, general education at UMW, and icebreaker ideas to get their group’s discussion started.

Do you have an idea for next year’s Common Read title? Is there a theme you’d like future Common Reads to explore? Are you interested in being on the Common Read selection committee? Nominate a title or a theme, or sign up as a committee member!

2019–2020 Common Read | Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover Book cover of Educated

Tara Westover grew up in a survivalist community in Idaho, isolated from modern medicine, homeschooled within the narrow confines of her parents’ beliefs, and working as a midwife and junkyard assistant from a young age. Westover tutored herself in secret to gain admission to Brigham Young University, against her family’s wishes. Her studies eventually took her to Harvard and Cambridge. All the while, Westover struggled to reconcile her upbringing with life beyond her family’s limited worldview.

This memoir addresses many issues of importance to First-in-Family college students, as well as themes of culture shock, personal growth, and grit. All students will recognize elements of their own experience as they enter college and encounter people who are different from themselves.

For access to an accessible version of the text please login here or email April Wynn.

Links to further resources about Educated: A Memoir and discussions with the author Tara Westover. Additional opportunities to engage around this text (optional peruse at your leisure).  Need a meme?

Support Resources

The themes in this book might be sensitive or concerning. There are both off and on campus resources for support. Please see the links below if you need some additional support.

Off Campus Resources – Learn about the different resources off campus to support you.

Campus Resources – Learn about the different resources on campus to support you.

Sexual assault and other interpersonal issues affect people from all walks of life, regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, economic status, and more; therefore, UMW is committed to ensuring our community has important information and resources for help.

Resources Off Campus (local and national)

Resources On Campus

  • Office of Title IX | Fairfax House | 540-654-1166
  • Stefanie Lucas-Waverly, Title IX Coordinator,, 540-654-5656
  • They (Title IX team) can assist with accommodations, information on the campus disciplinary process, medical assistance, reporting to law enforcement, and other support and resources
  • Confidential