Toni Morrison book 'Home' selected for summer reading

When the incoming class of freshmen moves onto campus this fall, UNC’s newest students will be leaving one home for another — in more ways than one.

The 2013 Carolina Summer Reading Program has selected “Home” by Toni Morrison, after receiving more than 500 book nominations.

“The main criterion that I urged our committee to consider in making its final choice was the artistic literary quality of the book,” said Christopher Putney, committee chairman.

Books of the past

The Carolina Summer Reading Program began in 1999 and has featured books such as the following selections:

“Picking Cotton” by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton

“Eating Animals” by Jonathan Safran Foer

“The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr

He said “Home” best fits this standard.

The book follows a young man who joins the army as a means of escape from his disadvantaged life, and his struggle to find purpose in life when he reluctantly returns home.

“One of its central themes is about finding the courage to dig up repressed pain, to look at it squarely and to figure out how to rebury it properly, which means figuring out how to end the cycles of pain and abuse that often imprison us,” Putney said.

The book will be discussed in small groups the Monday before the first day of class, as freshmen and faculty have been doing for more than 15 years.

April Mann, director of New Student and Carolina Parent Programs, said she thinks the book will help represent the rigor of the academic classroom that freshmen should expect to encounter in a university setting.

“It’s a book that’s going to challenge students to be thoughtful, but it also has themes, as the title suggests, related to home and what constitutes home,” she said.

“That particular theme is really going to connect with our incoming first-year and transfer students as they begin to make their own way in college and create their own identity at Carolina.”

Mann added that the group discussions will help facilitate friendships and personal connections among peers.

The committee charged with selecting the summer reading book is composed of an equal number of faculty, staff and students.

After receiving nominations, the committee narrows the list down to four finalists, and through small group meetings and book reviews, select a winner.

Junior Sneha Rao, who is familiar with Morrison’s writing, said she thinks the theme of “Home” is pertinent to incoming freshmen.

“The UNC community is tight-knit, so it doesn’t take that long to feel you’re at home,” Rao said.

“But for people coming out of state, or even people in North Carolina who don’t have a lot of peers coming in from high school, it can be hard developing a sense of home and a sense of place.”

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