Common Reading Experience


You're invited to join our common reading experience. UNIV 101, UNIV 201 and many first-year composition courses use a common reading experience to explore themes of identity, gender, race, ethnicity and civic responsibility. Each year a team of faculty, staff, community members and students recommend a book for our common reading experience.

2017-2019 Book: "Make Your Home Among Strangers"
by Jennine Capó Crucet

"Make Your Home Among Strangers" follows Lizet, a first-generation Cuban American and daughter of Cuban immigrants, through her challenging journey as she navigates the all-encompassing process of becoming a first-generation college student.

Want to read more about Crucet's experience as a college student? Read her latest article in the New York Times, "How First-Generation College Students Do Thanksgiving".

Watch a video of Crucet's presentation during her visit to NIU last year. Once you click the link, you will be prompted to log in with your Z-ID or A-ID and password in order to view the video.

  • Social justice
  • Quality/access to education
  • Financial aid
  • First-generation students
  • Immigration (reform)
  • Ethics (plagiarism)
  • Civic engagement
  • Activism
  • Diversity
  • Inclusion
  • Coping skills
  • Identity
  • Relationships
  • Socioeconomic class
  • Race
  • Mentoring
  • Ethnicity
  • Change
  • Familial obligation
  • Leaving home

Jennine Capó CrucetAlthough "Make Your Home Among Strangers" is a work of fiction, there are many similarities from Crucet’s book and her personal life. Crucet, born and raised in Hialeah, FL, was a first generation Cuban American and first-generation college student. She currently works as an Assistant Professor in English and Ethnic studies at University of Nebraska at Lincoln. Crucet’s first book, "How to Leave Hialeah," won the Iowa Short Fiction Award and was named Best Book of the Year by The Miami Herald and the Latinidad List. Crucet is an A PEN/O. Henry Prize winner and Bread Loaf Fellow. "Make Your Home Among Strangers" was selected by the Women’s National Book Association as a 2015 “Great Group Reads.”

To help get the book in the hands of every student, we need your help! After you've read your copy of the book, we encourage you to donate it to a new incoming student by sending it through Campus Mail or bringing it to First- and Second-Year Experience in Altgeld Hall Room 100.

Feel free to mark your favorite passages and/or quotes and perhaps include an inspiring note for a first-year student as a way of welcoming new students to the university.

If you have not yet been able to get a copy of Make Your Home Among Strangers, here are some free and for-purchase options:

Available Format Price
Huskie Books and Gear New paperback TBA
Amazon New hardcover $19.42
Used hardcover $2.46 + shipping
New paperback $6.46
Used paperback $4.49 + shipping
Kindle $9.99 (add audiobook for $4.49)
Audio Free audio trial for 30 days. After 30 days, $14.95/month.
Barnes & Noble Paperback $10.66
DeKalb / Sycamore Public Libraries Varies Free to check out with library card
First- and Second-Year Experience Varies Contact FSYE at 815-753-0028 to see if we have any copies to lend.

Program Goal: Establishes a common, educationally-purposeful experience among first-year students to foster community at NIU.

  • Students will recognize Northern Illinois University’s value of intellectual development.
  • Students will identify community with peers and facilitators through shared reading and discussion experience.
  • Students will connect in- and out- of classroom experiences.
  • Students will explore community conversations and improve communication skills.

Program Goal: Provide new students with the opportunity to begin exploring new perspectives and ways of viewing the world.

  • Students will become aware of the validity of differing viewpoints.
  • Students will begin to explore self perception and personal values.
  • Students will recognize a comfortable, safe environment that is conducive to learning.

Program Goal: Orients new students to critical thinking and the spirit of intellectual inquiry.

  • Students will read the book selection in its entirety.
  • Students will recognize their individual responsibility for learning in the university.
  • Students will understand that the academic experience is enhanced by exercising personal initiative.

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