Why You Should Read the Common Reading

Ethan Pakzad is here to share one of SMU’s favorite academic traditions: The Common Reading. Ethan is a sophomore Orientation Leader double majoring in Finance and Philosophy, and can’t encourage you enough to read Evicted!


I know what a lot of you are thinking: “do I really have to read this book for college? I thought summer reading was over. We aren’t in high school anymore!”

Well, I am here to say, “yes!” But – don’t let this scare you or stress you out. Enjoy your summer before college, and have as much fun as you can before you begin your amazing new journey. Having fun, however, doesn’t mean there should not be time set aside here and there for learning about the world outside of what you know.

Evicted by Matthew Desmond is vital for every one of you to read. Desmond dives into the lives of those who are burdened with poverty in circumstances that cannot be explained with a mere “Oh, just go get a job and work hard!” remark. We are attending an amazing university that caters to our every need. Could I say the same for the main character Lamar in Evicted? No. Lamar lives a life many of us cannot imagine living – one we look at and cannot comprehend.

Something stressed at SMU is the importance of being knowledgeable about various world issues. The idea of knowing what is going on in the world outside of your struggle of waking up for an 8 am class is crucial. Perspective is something that I have personally learned at SMU. There is a lot of wrongdoing in America, and the Common Reading is meant to open your eyes to what is happening in the lives of people in our country. There are people in this book who must choose whether they want heat, food, or electricity. Not everyone has the privilege to have all three and more.

Also, do not be surprised if the book becomes a topic in your DISC classes! In high school it was a lot easier to get by without reading the book. College is a little different. Not being knowledgeable of its content will be blatantly obvious to your professor and could give off a poor first impression. This is your first assignment as a college student and an excellent way to come in feeling confident and ready for your first day of classes. I highly recommend not waiting until the last minute on this book. As I said before, have fun during your last summer, but being proactive and reading this book is a great way to give yourself more free time towards the end with your friends!

One final thought: this book should not be looked at as a busy work assignment. Look at it as an opportunity to grow as a scholar and as a human being. Desmond will not disappoint you with Evicted.

For last years’ post about the Common Reading, click here to read from one of our 2016 Orientation Leaders, Jac Mann-McCullick!