Common Reading Initiative

2012 Common Reading Initiative Book

420 Characters, by Lou Beach

420 CharactersWithin this collection of miniature stories, entire worlds take shape... Beach's characters contend with the strange and terrible and beautiful in life, and no outcome is certain. Begun as a series of Facebook status updates, 420 Characters marks a new turn in an acclaimed artist and illustrator's career, and features original collages by the author. Learn more about the book here:

More information about the book and a reading guide will be posted soon!

About the Common Reading Initiative

As a first-year student, you will be participating in the college's Common Reading Initiative, a program of lectures, discussions, exhibits, films and concerts that complement the book. Books will be provided to first-year students by the college during Summer Orientation.

History of the Initiative

We've designed the program to introduce you to the academic and intellectual culture of the college through a common reading experience. A committee of faculty, staff and current JSC students met over the course of the fall and spring semesters to choose a book for the entire incoming class to read during the summer. This fall, you will have many opportunities to share and compare ideas about the common book. Your peer Orientation Leaders, as well as many faculty and staff, will also have read the book, providing a broad base for discussion and integration into the JSC community.


Previous Years' Common Books


Greasy Rider, Greg Melville



Outcasts United, Warren St. John



How Does It Feel to Be a Problem? Being Young and Arab in America, Moustafa Bayoumi



1 Dead in Attic, Chris Rose



A Long Way Gone, Ishmael Beah