One of the first intellectual activities freshmen undertake as Northeastern students occurs before they even set foot on campus.
All of the students participate in the First Pages program, which involves reading a book during the summer and then attending an engaging campus lecture by the book’s author during Welcome Week.
Launched in 2006, the First Pages program was established to develop a sense of common knowledge and purpose among students as they begin their first year at Northeastern. Past First Pages books have focused on powerful and timely topics such as addiction, poverty, and social justice issues, while past authors have included Tracy Kidder, Dave Eggers, and Atul Gawande.
But have you wondered how the First Pages book is annually selected? It turns out it’s a process that starts well before the new students are accepted to Northeastern. A selection committee comprising students, faculty, and staff convenes at the beginning of the academic year and solicits book nominations from the Northeastern community.
The committee sometimes receives as many as 20 nominations, from which six to eight are selected for further consideration. Committee members then read the books and meet in the spring to pick a winner.
This year’s selection is Alex Gilvarry’s From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant, a satirical novel that won the Hornblower Award at the 2012 New York City Book Awards. Gilvarry will speak to the 2015 incoming class on Tuesday, Sept. 8, at Matthews Arena, and copies of the book are available in the Curry Student Center bookstore and at Snell Library.
“The committee felt the book aligned with the goals of the program, which are to introduce students to timely topics,” said Lauren Pouchak, senior associate director of the Honors Program, which runs the program.
The selection committee also seeks input from the Honors Program Book Club, a group of about 55 students who read an average of two books per semester. Book club members are given the opportunity to read some of the books under consideration and then present their opinions to the selection committee.
Catherine Maronski, SSH’16, who is a member of the First Pages selection committee and the Honors Program Book Club, noted that it’s satisfying for the club’s students to be recognized as serious readers.
“This opportunity enabled us to utilize our passion for reading,” she said, “and created an extremely rewarding and enriching experience for many of the book club members who chose to participate.”