Otterbein Common Book Program Offers Summer Reading Suggestions

Posted May 11, 2021

Otterbein’s Common Book program is designed to enhance the interdisciplinary curriculum for first-year students, but it also provides a wealth of summer reading suggestions for people interested in books that challenge their views on contemporary topics. 

Each year, the Common Book is chosen by a committee of faculty, staff, and students who each bring unique perspectives to the selection process. This summer, first-year students will be reading Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think, a book by Swedish statistician Hans Rosling with his son Ola Rosling and daughter-in-law Anna Rosling Rönnlund.  

2021 Common Book

Factfulness sheds light on the current state of the world and global trends, and how misinformation distorts our view of current state. According to the book’s summary: “It turns out that the world, for all its imperfections, is in a much better state than we might think. But when we worry about everything all the time instead of embracing a worldview based on facts, we can lose our ability to focus on the things that threaten us most.” 

“This is different than normal Common Books — as a non-fiction book about data science, it will provide a different type of engagement for our campus community,” said Colette Masterson, co-chair of the Common Book Committee. 

Some faculty and staff members also will read Factfulness this summer to spark discussion from a common experience with first-year students. This community-building aspect is one of the most important components of the Common Book program.  

“The Common Book creates a shared experience for our campus community and provides an instant connection not only among first-year students, but also Otterbein staff and faculty who interact with these students,” Masterson said. “This creates a meaningful experience that extends beyond the classroom.” 

In addition to this year’s Common Book, readers can choose from a list of books being considered for selection as the 2022 Common Book.  

The list of 11 books looks into the lives of families living in the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee, an American neurologist intent on saving the life of a Haitian man, and an incarcerated man who found a new direction for his life while in prison. The books explore a spectrum of contemporary topics, including climate change, sexual orientation, poverty, and immigration.  

“The Selection Committees narrow the initial list of around 50 books down to 10 over the fall term and then the Nominating Committees make their final rankings by the end of the academic year, more than a year before the author’s visit. We have not yet determined when we will announce the 2022 Common Book,” explained Masterson.  

In addition to the current books under consideration, Masterson encourages people to read any of the 26 Common Book selections from past years.  

“It’s a diverse list of books that I would recommend to anyone looking to expand their views and understanding of the world around them,” she added.  

The Common Book program was established in 1995 thanks to the generosity of Mary B. Thomas, a graduate of the Class of 1928, to add an academic component to new student orientation and to welcome incoming students to an intellectual community willing to grapple with significant issues.  

Learn more about the Common Book program and past books and authors at See the reading list for the next Common Book at