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First-Year Read

First-Year Read at Carthage: Engage. Connect. Inspire.


Each year, the Carthage community joins with the incoming class to read a book that we think is fascinating, surprising, and meaningful — a book that makes us look at the world a little bit differently once we’ve read it. The 2017-2018 First-Year Read is Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Bryan Stevenson. Look for your copy to arrive in July!

“Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson has been selected as the 2016-2017 Carthage College First Year Read.Just Mercy is a New York Times best-seller and winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction. Through this compelling memoir, readers will gain insight into the United States’ criminal justice system from a social justice perspective. As Ted Conover wrote in his review of this book in the New York Times, “Unfairness in the justice system is a major theme of our age. … This book brings new life to the story by placing it in two affecting contexts: [Bryan] Stevenson’s life work and the deep strain of racial injustice in American life.” (Conover, 2014, p. BR11)

The First-Year Read is your introduction to the intellectual life of the College, and it’s also our first chance to get to know you as readers, writers, and thinkers. 

New Student Orientation will include discussions of Just Mercy, led by Carthage faculty and staff. To prepare for the First-Year Read activities, watch for your copy of Just Mercyto arrive at your home in July. Then, just read the book, and mark it up! Underline sentences you find compelling, turn down the pages, write questions in the margins — make the book your own. You will engage in small group discussions with new classmates and faculty. Past students who have participated in these discussions have found this to be a positive introduction to the college classroom, and the intellectual culture of the campus.

Then, throughout the 2017-2018 academic year, we will offer programming such as guest lectures and films that address the issues and questions raised in Just Mercy. These events create opportunities for students and faculty to engage one another outside the classroom, periodically rekindling the dialogue that began during New Student Orientation.

First-Year Read Director

Rick Matthews
Director, Writing Development
Professor of Sociology and Criminal Justice