I've started thinking about the concept of a common book. All UW freshmen (about 5,000 of us) are supposed to read Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama. It's an interesting concept, a single book that thousands of people all in one place will have read, and of course probably every single one of them will take something different from it, like it, not like it, maybe not read it (since who's going to check, really). The point is that having read it we'll all have something in common to talk about, and it's kind of nice that the commonality they've chosen is in book form. The whole idea that literature is universal.
When I was in fourth or fifth grade, all the school kids in the Seattle schools read Holes, by Louis Sachar. This didn't really function as a common book at the time, since in fourth grade you don't know that many people your age other than the kids in the same fourth grade class, but now I can talk to all of my friends who went through Seattle schools, and we all know the story of Holes.
Have you ever read a book in common with thousands of other people who you might not otherwise have something in common with? Or would you like to? I'm also rather curious if there are other programs not affiliated with schools where everybody reads a common book.
And pretty soon, I'll be back to talk about the book itself, which I started a couple of days ago and am finding rather interesting.