Common Read 2015

The True American

Each year, we offer all entering students a Common  Read. The chosen book provides a shared university experience for the newest members of our campus,  one defined by intellectual exploration and critical thinking - and community involvement and engagement, as students discuss the book among their peers and with faculty. 

Faculty, staff, and students from all over campus  participated in the 2015 Common Read selection process.  They agree The True American is “a profoundly moving exploration of the American dream in its many dimensions.” As part of the 2015 Common Read experience, students will participate in rich conversations about the themes raised by this book in residence halls and the classroom. Related events will also be held throughout the semester, including a campus visit by author Anand Giridharadas.

In addition to a shared  intellectual experience, the 2015 Common Read is an opportunity to explore our values as a community. The True American offers tremendous insight into the destructive power  of unchallenged stereotypes, explicit and implicit. Over the past year, as part of a campus-wide strategic planning process, students, faculty, and staff have come together to discuss issues related to diversity, inclusion, and access. These conversations are essential to creating a safe, healthy, and inclusive environment, defined by the exploration of ideas and a deep regard for the experiences and humanity of the people around us.

The True American is a reminder that each one of us plays a powerful role in creating a community defined by inclusion. As a member of the UMass Amherst community, you can own the principles of UMatter@UMass: be an active bystander; care for each other; create a supportive community; listen to and speak up for others; and speak out against hate.

We encourage you all to engage with the Common Read alongside our first-year and transfer students. By reading the book, discussing its themes with students, and attending events, you help to be a champion of a more engaged and connected campus community! For more information on how you can stay involved check out our website at or email us for more information at