Suggested Books for 2020-2021 Campus Reading Program

  1. $2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn Eden and H. Luke Shaefer
  2. Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast by Natasha Trethewey
  3. Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky
  4. Gigged: The Gig Economy, the End of the Job and the Future of Work by Sarah Kessler
  5. The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature by J. Drew Lanham
  6. The Honey Bus: A Memoir of Loss, Courage and a Girl Saved by Bees by Meredith May
  7. Junk Raft: An Ocean Voyage and a Rising Tide of Activism  to Flight Plastic Pollution by Marcus Eriksen
  8. Lentil Underground: Renegade Farmers and the Future of Food in America by Liz Carlisle
  9. Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman by Yvon Chouinard
  10. Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck
  11. The Poisoned City by Anna Clark
  12. Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore by Elizabeth Rush
  13. The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson
  14. The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert
  15. The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung
  16. The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
  17. They Called Us Enemy by George Takei
  18. What the Eyes Don’t See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City by Mona Hanna-Attisha
  19. While Glaciers Slept: Being Human in a Time of Climate Change by M. Jackson


  • Must be well written and engaging,
  • Must offer topics and themes conducive to stimulating thoughtful discussion, calling for critical thinking about ideas, issues, practices, values, traditions, relationships, or beliefs.
  • Must speak in a meaningful manner to our target audience (the entire campus community, but also newly entering freshmen we wish to win over to participating in and supporting a culture or reading).
  • Must provide connecting opportunities for cross- and interdisciplinary corollary lectures, activities, presentations, and/or performances to encourage integration across wide and diverse sections of the SJSU community (and perhaps into a range of different class assignment possibilities).
  • Must have received some critical praise or acclaim, with some evidence of popularity or the potential for popularity.
  • Must be published within the last five years.
  • Must be available in paperback by the time book orders for Summer Orientation sessions are due.
  • Must not be made into a film before or during the year of its selection.
  • Must not exceed 300 pages.
  • Might speak to a significant “hot topic” current social issue, might have a special or particular tie to our campus history or local city and area culture and history.

(NOTE– On issues such as date of publication or page length, if the selection is extremely strong in other areas and gets very positive support from a majority of the committee, these criteria can be waived.)