Common Reading Initiative

2013 Common Reading Initiative Book

Detroit: An American Autopsy, by Charlie LeDuff

DetroitLeDuff's book touches on a wide range of pertinent topics: the American and global economy; class in America and the recession; the role of government, the press, and the citizenry in American democracy; and community building and urban renewal, among others.

Once a thriving metropolis — a true leader in the nation for production, wealth, and opportunity — Detroit is now the nation's poorest city, leading the nation in unemployment, arson and other social ills. As a Detroit native and a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, LeDuff tells the tale of the city’s decline, getting up close and personal with his subject.

Learn more about the book and the author 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.


This year's Common Reading Initiative is sponsored by JSC President Barbara E. Murphy in memory of her mother, Florence Murphy Richards (1924-2012), lover of books and cities. Additional support was provided by the SymQuest Group of South Burlington.

SymQuest logo



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


420 Characters, Lou Beach



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