2015-2016 Common Reading Book

The Sunflower
By Simon Wiesenthal

While imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Simon Wiesenthal was taken one day from his work detail to the bedside of a dying member of the SS. Haunted by the crimes in which he had participated, the soldier wanted to confess to--and obtain absolution from--a Jew. Faced with the choice between compassion and justice, silence and truth, Wiesenthal said nothing. But even years after the war had ended, he wondered: Had he done the right thing? What would you have done in his place?

In this important book, 53 distinguished men and women respond to Wiesenthal's questions. They are theologians, political leaders, writers, jurists, psychiatrists, human rights activists, Holocaust survivors and victims of attempted genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, China and Tibet. Their responses, as varied as their experiences of the world, remind us that Wiesenthal's questions are not limited to events of the past. Often surprising and always thought provoking, The Sunflower will challenge you to define your beliefs about justice, compassion, and human responsibility.

What Is the Common Reading Book?

The Common Reading Book eases the academic transition by providing a shared intellectual exploration for the campus community through discussion, curricular assignments, reflection and cocurricular programming based on a single book.

  • Provides a common first-year experiences for Baker’s newest students
  • Connects students to faculty, instructors and peers
  • Reflects on personal experiences and relates them to the common book
  • Promotes learning with and from others through dialogue
  • Increases awareness of diverse cultures
  • Enhances success by emphasizing reading as an intellectual skill central to student achievement

What Should I Expect From the Program?

  • You will receive your free copy during your Summer Orientation session.
  • You are expected to read the book before classes begin.
  • The book will be discussed in your first-semester salon class (SN101, HN101 or SN201).

 Common Reading Committee

  • Dr. Cassy Bailey, Dean of Students
  • Dr. Carrie Coward Bucher, Quest Program Chair, Director of Honors Program
  • Dr. Judy Smrha, Assistant Dean for Student Engagement and Success, Associate Professor of Business and Economics
  • Kevin Kropf, Senior Director of Admissions