Today@Sam Article

‘Educated: A Memoir’ Announced As Common Reader

May 31, 2019
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Haney


“In education, you can choose to remake yourself - or be made by others.”

These are the words of “Educated: A Memoir” author Tara Westover, and a prevalent theme of the 2019-2020 Common Reader Program.

Each year since 2008, a selection committee made up of faculty, staff and students review book nominations from the university community. This year, the committee received more than 140 nominations. Based on rigorous selection criteria, 73 titles were rated and reviewed and the committee was able to narrow the choices down to 11 top-rated titles, which were read and evaluated by more than 25 readers.

“Educated” was ultimately chosen for the 2019-2020 Common Reading Program with the highest overall reader rating and the highest top category ratings (general appeal to readers, classroom use, relevance, program potential) amongst student, faculty and staff readers.  

“Educated was selected because it provides timely and relevant topics to inspire research and writing across academic disciplines, and provides the opportunity to engage in meaningful discussions”, said Lisa Shen, committee chair of the book selection process.

One of the original nominators of the book was SHSU student Millicent Hendrix. She wrote this in her nomination:

“I like how at SHSU we focus on diversity and how everyone has a unique path that has led us to our university. This book gives you the perspectives to see one’s life through new eyes, as well as the vision to change it. It gives you the courage to take a step back and focus on where you’ve been and take control of where you’re going. So, for me, taking control of why I am at Sam Houston State and what I plan to do with my time here.”

“I believe my voice was heard,” Millicent Hendrix, a junior psychology student said. “I really have an admiration for this book, and to be able to express that, as well as seeing it chosen, is one of the most rewarding opportunities.”

“Educated” reminds readers that education is not only about learning history, science, and art; but also, about learning how to think for oneself. Westover is aware that her education has accorded her the power to define her life and tell her own memorable story.

A second student nominator, Barrett Steed wrote,

“Great story of making the choice to leave home and pursue a formal education.”

The SHSU Common Reader supports faculty and staff with a robust framework of options to bring the book to life in classrooms, for student scholarship opportunities, and at campus events. Featured author Tara Westover will be on campus Wednesday, Sept. 25, in the Lowman Student Center Ballroom.  Students can participate in scholarships and related SHSU Common Reader events the week of Nov. 4 – 7.

“Educated” debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list and was a finalist for a number of national awards, including the LA Times Book Prize, PEN America's Jean Stein Book Award, and two awards from the National Book Critics Circle Award. The New York Times named “Educated” one of the 10 Best Books of 2018, and in a piece written by Bill Gates, Westover was chosen by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people of 2019.

Themes include, family, active participation and ownership of a college education, narrative writing, journaling, transitions, mental health, child abuse, public education, government institutions, religion, entrepreneurship, living off the grid, study abroad, homeschooling, health, midwifery, homeopathic medicine and survivalists.

Free copies of the book are available to members of the campus community while supplies last. For more information on the SHSU Common Reading Program, contact Kay Angrove at 936.294.3422 or

Past Common Readers:

2018-2019: What Unites Us by alumnus Dan Rather

2017-2018: The Good Food Revolution by Will Allen

2016-2017: An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth by Col. Chris Hadfield 

2015-2016: Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario

2014-2015: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

2013-2014: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg 

2012-2013: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

2011-2012: Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson

2010-2011: China's Son by Da Chen

2009-2010: The Fly in the Ointment by Dr. Joe Schwarcz

2008-2009: Affluenza: The All-Consuming Epidemic by John de Graaf


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