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The First Year Seminar Program is pleased to announce that the 2023/2024 Common Read is Robin Wall Kimmerer's Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. 

Braiding Sweetgrass is a nonfiction book that consists of essays that reflect upon nature through Kimmerer’s perspective as an Indigenous woman, a trained botanist, a loving mother, and a dedicated professor.  Through personal anecdotes, scientific observations, and cultural storytelling, Kimmerer calls readers to pay more attention to how we relate to and care for the environment. 

The Common Read Committee, composed of faculty, staff, and students from across the college, chose Kimmerer’s book in the hopes that it would lead to important and necessary discussions about identity, inclusion, the importance of the environment, the problem of climate change, and the necessity of stewardship. Because there is such a wide range of topics explored in the book, we feel that it will appeal to instructors across disciplines and to students, no matter their majors. The text is very accessible, as it is available through the Marist library website at no cost to members of the Marist community, which was an important component in our decision. There is also an audiobook available for students to purchase or borrow from their home libraries if they prefer to listen to the Common Read.

As you may know, the Common Read is incorporated into our students’ first-year experience. Students are asked to complete the common reading prior to arriving on campus in the fall. They then write an essay on the Common Read in their First Year Seminar, as part of the college’s assessment of the Core/Liberal Studies curriculum. They are also encouraged to participate in related co-curriculars connected to the text. 

Braiding Sweetgrass will no doubt help us as a college community to engage with one another in meaningful conversations about Indigenous histories and identities, varying ways of understanding the world, the value of the environment, and the importance of environmental advocacy.  


Historical List of Marist Common Read Books

2022-23 Clint Smith,
How the Word is Passed 


Emmanuel Acho,
Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man


Joshua Douglas,
Vote for Us: How to Take Back Our Elections and Change the Future of Voting


Naomi Alderman,
The Power


Jonathan Starr,
It Takes a School


Reyna Grande,
The Distance Between Us


Wes Moore,
The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates


Azar Nafisi,
Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books


Steven Johnson,
The Ghost Map: The Story of London’s Most Terrifying Epidemic and How it Changed, Science, Cities, and the Modern World

2013-14 Rebecca Skloot,
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks