What is the Common Summer Reading selection for 2013?
The Composition Committee has selected David Sedaris’ multigenre collection Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls (2013). Students can purchase the book at the campus bookstore.
Why does the SUNY New Paltz Composition Program require first-year students to read the book over the summer?
SUNY New Paltz, like many colleges and universities across the country, has implemented a common summer reading program for several reasons. We want to reinforce the principle that engaging in critical reading is an important part of being a member of an academic community. To that end, we have posted discussion questions and writing assignments online to help students think about Sedaris’ book as they are reading. We also hope that this program will provide a means by which our incoming students become part of the academic community here at SUNY New Paltz.
Does every first-year student read the book?
Almost. Those students enrolled in Composition I or Composition II will be required to read the book. However, we encourage those students who are in General Honors English to read it and to take part in campus discussions and events.
Where do students find related background material, discussion questions, and writing assignments associated with Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls?
The complete Common Summer Reading materials will also be posted on the Composition Program’s website (under the English Department). Individual instructors may also post related materials and assignments on their course Blackboard sites.
Read the Study Guide for Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls.
About the Author
David Sedaris was born in Binghamton, N.Y. but was raised in Raleigh, N.C. He grew up with four sisters and a brother, several of whom appear in his stories. He attended a couple of colleges in North Carolina before moving to Illinois and enrolling in School of the Art Institute of Chicago, from which he graduated at the age of twenty-seven. Sedaris spent some time working odd jobs back home in Raleigh before he got his big break: radio show host Ira Glass heard Sedaris reading from his diary at a night club and noted his potential. Sedaris has since published nine short story and essay collections, been a featured reader on scores of This American Life radio segments, and dabbled in filmmaking and playwriting. When he’s not at his home in West Sussex, England with his longtime partner Hugh Hamrick, he’s gallivanting through France, flying around the world on a book tour, or adding to the diary he’s kept since 1977.
“The entertaining misanthropy of his previous books has a sharper edge here. […] Sedaris is brave because he has no vanity at all, no compunction about revealing himself as weak and obsessive, sometimes cruel and hateful.” –David Shariatmadari, The Guardian
“It’s only natural to laugh at all the comic abundance in ‘Let’s Explore,' but there’s no crime in sticking around for the humanity.” –David Carr, The New York Times
“With his new essays, he returns in mostly fine form to milking his own life for humor and deeper meaning. In addition, less winningly, he’s added a handful of outright fictional monologues, the “Etc.” of his subtitle, in which ultraconservatives, bigots, homophobes and the like perform a sort of narrative hara-kiri, essentially skewering themselves with their narrow-minded rants. […] Unfortunately, Sedaris’ targets, with their exaggerated stupidity, seem too obvious.” –Heller McAlpin, NPR Books