First-Year Text 2023-24
One way that Baruch’s first-year program builds intellectual community is through a common reading. All students participating in the First Year Seminar (FYS) read the same book. The First Year Text for the 2023-2024 academic year is Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades.
Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades. The novel, written by a 2015 Baruch College alum, is about a group of friends and their immigrant families from Queens, New York—a tenderly observed, fiercely poetic love letter to a modern generation of brown girls.
First-Year Text Past Years
2020-2021 & 2021-2022: Bridgett Davis’ The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers.
This memoir, set in the 1960s during the time of race riots, recounts the story of how Bridgett’s mother, Fannie Mae, achieved her personal American Dream via the numbers business as a way to provide a better life for her family.
2019-2020: Akhil Sharma’s Family Life.
A coming-of-age story of an eight-year old Indian boy and the many challenges he and his recently immigrated family face coming to America New York City.
2018-2019: Russell Shorto’s The Island at the Center of the World.
A narrative tour de force about the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam, the earliest European settlement on Manhattan island, this gripping history has a global sweep but centers on the place Baruch students know best, and invites them to see far deeper into it.
2017-2018: Cristina Henriquez’s The Book of Unknown Americans.
This novel is a compelling story that explores the American dream and the immigrant experience.
2016-2017: Celeste Ng’s Everything I Never Told You.
This novel is a compelling story of family, identity, and belonging with an element of intrigue. Exploring relationships across cultures, generations, and communities, the book uncovers what is said and left unsaid in trying to understand one another.
2015-2016: Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.
This novel is an intellectual and emotional text that is narrated by a 22-year old college student who begins her story in the middle as she is coming-of-age. Author Karen Joy Fowler delivered the Convocation keynote address to incoming first-year students.
2014-2015: Mohsin Hamid’s How to get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia.
This sharply well-written story “follow’s a man’s journey from impoverished rural boy to corporate tycoon, stealing its shape from the business self-help books devoured by ambitious youths all over rising Asia”. Author Mohsin Hamid addressed the entering class as the keynote speaker during Convocation.
2013-2014: Karen Thompson Walker’s The Age of Miracles.
This sci-fi coming-of-age novel follows the impact of an environmental catastrophe of the young protagonist Julia and the community around her as they struggle to adjust to life on the planet irrevocably changed.
2012-2013: Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn.
This beautifully written coming-of-age novel explores the experiences of a young woman’s immigration from Ireland to the United States and how the decisions made for her by others shape the path her life takes.
2011-2012: Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close.
This novel follows the search by a nine-year boy for connection to his father who died in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11th. The book was selected both to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and to examine the process of identity exploration, coming of age, and healing.
2010-2011: Charles N. Li’s The Bitter Sea.
This coming-of-age story follows the author’s experiences growing up in mid-century China during the Japanese occupation and subsequent political upheavals, his escape to Hong Kong, return to communist China, and emigration to the United States. Against this backdrop, the author struggles with tumultuous family relationships and his own internal struggle between east and west.
2009-2010: Sherman Alexie’s Reservation Blues.
This contemporary novel depicts the adventures of members of the Spokane-Coeur d’Alene tribe in Idaho when they decide to form a band and take their show on the road. Their voyage of self discovery takes time out of their reservation enclave to New York and back. In the end, they realize that there is no place like home. Native American poet John Elvis Smelcer delivered the moving keynote address at Convocation.
2008-2009: Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake.
This coming-of-age novel by the Pulitzer-Prize winning author tells the story of the Ganguli family and their experiences across cultures and generations. Author/Editor Nina Mehta delivered the keynote address at Convocation.
2007-2008: Tracy Kidder’s Mountains Beyond Mountains.
The book tells the inspirational story of the efforts by Dr. Paul Farmer to alleviate some of the most intractable public health problems facing the developing world. Partners-in-Health Director of Development, Ed Cardoza presented the keynote address.
2006-2007: Chris Hedges’ War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning.
The author delivered the keynote presentation on the horrors of war based on his experiences as a war correspondent covering several decades and major conflicts throughout the world.
2005-2006: George Orwell’s classic 1984.
Bill Lutz, Professor of English at Rutgers University and author of Doublespeak Defined, gave the keynote address at Convocation on the legacy of 1984 in today’s world.
2004-2005: Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.
Ehrenreich is the author of twelve books including the New York Times bestseller The Worst Years of Our Lives and contributes regularly to Time, Harper’s, The New Republic, and The Nation. Nickel and Dimed follows her odyssey working as a minimum wage earner in America. What she experiences provides a revealing glimpse into the lives of the working poor. Harper’s editor Lewis Lapham delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Convocation on his protégé’s best-selling work.
2003-2004: Yann Martel’s Life of Pi.
An international award-winning novel, Life of Pi is a powerful and engaging story as well as a moving parable. Ann Patty, editor of Life of Pi, delivered the 2003 Convocation address while the audience was treated to greetings from a larger-than-life Yann Martell’s projected on the large Mason Hall screen via videotape.
2002-2003: Colson Whitehead’s John Henry Days.
A powerful and moving novel that explores issues of race and technology in America, John Henry Days received numerous awards. Colson Whitehead, a MacArthur Fellowship winner, delivered a moving address at Baruch’s convocation in August 2002.
2001-2002: Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation.
Subtitled “The Dark Side of the All-American Meal”, Schlosser’s book is an engaging and controversial account of the development of the American fast food industry and its consequences. The work has attracted a great deal of critical attention and remains a best seller on college campuses. Mr. Schlosser a journalist whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and many other publications, addressed the entering freshmen class at Convocation.
2000-2001: Philip Gourevitch’s We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families.
A haunting tale of the genocide in Rwanda, Gourevitch’s book received numerous awards. Mr. Gourevitch delivered a moving convocation address.