What is a Common Reading?

Photo by Dale Kakkak: The author Robin Wall Kimmerer leaning against a birch tree trunk, with a photo of the cover of the book Braiding Sweetgrass embedded next to her.

A common reading is one way to create community connections among students, and between students and their professors, WSU and others. Topics in a selected book are examined throughout the year by members of the university community. They spark discussions and intellectual conversations in and beyond course spaces, highlight WSU research and the diversity of ideas across disciplines, and introduce different ways to explore complex issues from a variety of perspectives.

2023-24 Selection

Washington State University has selected as its 2023-24 common read for first-year and other students the book Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants, by Robin Wall Kimmerer.

What’s it About?

Published in 2013 by Milkweed Press, it features essays that convey scientific knowledge as well as indigenous lore and reflections on subjects such as the relationship between humans and the land, sacred traditions, agriculture and land use, environmental threat and regeneration, climate change, and more. The book is divided into five sections: planting, tending, picking, braiding, and burning sweetgrass.

Upcoming Common Reading events such as author talks, faculty research, book clubs and contests are posted throughout the year on the Global Connection’s events page.

Learn more about the WSU Common Reading program and book selections from previous years.