Fresh from reading a record number of essays submitted by NEHS members on this year’s Common Reader, The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, members of the Advisory Council spent considerable time debating and researching texts to be considered for the coming year. Selection of a single text to serve not only as a source for the NEHS scholarship program but also potentially as a book that will serve as a “touchstone” for chapters, schools, and/or communities is challenging. In a recent commentary from The Chronicle of Higher Education, Ashley Thorne urges selection committees to challenge students; her article, “Students Will Rise When Colleges Challenge Them to Read Good Books,” urges educators to “choose good books, consult with people who read widely and well and are intimately familiar with good books. . . [and] set the goal of finding books that are beautifully written, enduringly important, and true to human nature.”
For the upcoming school year, the NEHS Common Reader will be Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler. Nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, winner of the PEN Faulkner Award, this highly acclaimed novel, considered by some to be Tyler’s best work, meets the criteria outlined by the author of the article cited. Crafted beautifully, the story presents intriguing characters and life-situations that allow readers to delve into serious, thought-provoking yet familiar themes. The Advisory Council believes the novel will serve the goals of the Society well.
The scholarship awards for the coming year will approach $35,000 with the addition of another level of award. Prompts for the essay competition will be made available in November.