K-State Book Network returns to fiction, announces 2017 common-reading book

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The Kansas State Book Network announced its 2017 common reading book, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” by Mark Haddon.

KSBN’s first book was The Hunger Games in 2010, Tara Coleman, KSBN chair and associate professor at Hale, said, though planning initially began in 2008.

According to the K-State Book Network website, the program is “designed to provide a common experience to help first year students transition from high school to college, grow academically and socially and share something with all other first year students.”

Mariya Vaughan, assistant coordinator for K-State First, serves on the PR/Events subcommittee and said the KSBN’s tagline, “A Campus on the Same Page,” exemplifies the wide-reaching nature of the program.

The entire university community can engage with the book, not just first-year students, Vaughn said.

Selecting the book

Selecting the book is a highly intensive process, said Celeste Bartels, junior in management and marketing and member of the selection committee.

The process starts in the spring when a committee is formed consisting of students, faculty, administrators and staff. Committee members nominate books that fit the specific themes KSBN decides to target.

The choices are then narrowed down significantly over the summer, and the committee continues to eliminate choices until they have three books left in the fall.

The university community is then invited to provide input on the final three choices before the selection committee makes its final choice.

“I enjoyed thinking about books that incoming freshmen would like,” Bartels said. “The goal was to find a book that would challenge students, but that they would also enjoy reading.”

This year’s novel

The novel tells the story of Christopher, a 15-year-old mathematical genius who takes on the task of uncovering the suspicious circumstances surrounding the death of a dog in his neighborhood.

The book has also been adapted into a Tony Award-winning play under the same title.

A variety of events will be planned for the university community surrounding the book during the fall semester.

The KSBN would like to bring the author to campus if possible. Vaughn said other potential events include faculty lectures, a student panel and scenes from the play.

Return to fiction

This year’s selection marks a return to fiction for the KSBN, following three years of non-fiction titles.

“That wasn’t an intention,” Coleman said.

However, Coleman is excited about the return to fiction. She said the potential to discuss difficult topics is easier through the lens of fiction.

On Thursday, April 6, the KSBN will be hosting an information session for student leaders, faculty, staff and graduate teaching assistants about ways to utilize the book. The event will be from 11 a.m. to noon in room 209 of the K-State Student Union. An RSVP form can be found on the KSBN webpage.

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