2019 Common Reading Announced

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah is NC State’s 2019 Common Reading Program selection.

Copies of Born a Crime, chosen by the students, faculty and staff on the Common Reading Selection Committee, will be distributed to all first-year students during New Student Orientation prior to the fall semester. Themes from Born a Crime will also be the focus of New Student Convocation on Monday, August 19, 2019, to be held at Reynolds Coliseum to welcome the Class of 2023.

Through Born a Crime, Trevor Noah confronts the social construction of race, the systems created to perpetuate ideologies, and their implications for individuals and communities. Noah’s collective memories illuminate his attempts to navigate the multiple worlds he inhabits. From changing family dynamics and figuring out the future to his witticisms about dating, Noah explains how our lived experiences inform our identities, ethics, and values, while allowing space for continued exploration of them within changing environments.

Dr. Eileen Taylor, Chair of the 2019 Common Reading Selection Committee, noted that “First-year students can surely relate to the challenges Noah faced as a teenager, in particular, dating, living with a stepparent, wanting money of one’s own, and figuring out what comes after high school. These aspects create a foundation for exploring ethics and values. The committee noted that there are multiple opportunities with this book for interdisciplinary engagement, as it addresses government policy, ethics, business, growth management, language, faith, race, learning, and personal reflection.”

Born a Crime combines our institution’s values of respect for cultural diversity, freedom of thought and expression, and responsibility for individual actions,” said Provost Warwick Arden. “No matter your field of study, the narrative of Born a Crime will challenge you to see how past norms and systems influence the present and ask how you can improve our world.”

A review by the New York Times noted that Born a Crime is “by turns alarming, sad and funny, his book provides a harrowing look, through the prism of Mr. Noah’s family, at life in South Africa under apartheid and the country’s lurching entry into a postapartheid era in the 1990s. Some stories will be familiar to fans who have followed the author’s stand-up act. But his accounts here are less the polished anecdotes of a comedian underscoring the absurdities of life under apartheid, than raw, deeply personal reminiscences about being “half-white, half-black” in a country where his birth “violated any number of laws, statutes and regulations.”

According to the author’s biography, Trevor Noah is the most successful comedian in Africa and is the host of the Emmy and Peabody Award-winning The Daily Show on Comedy Central, which Noah joined in 2014. Born a Crime, Noah’s first foray as an author, was an instant New York Times bestseller and was also nominated for two NAACP Image Awards.

Learn more about the author at: https://www.trevornoah.com/

The Common Reading Engagement Committee invites members of the NC State community and beyond to become engaged with the book by:

  • Incorporating the text into fall and spring semester courses (to request a review copy of the text, please visit: go.ncsu.edu/crpreviewcopy);
  • Submitting ideas for active engagement opportunities via the Common Reading email at common-reading@ncsu.edu; and
  • Joining in the conversation via social media using the hashtag #onepackonebook.

The campus community is encouraged to submit nominations for the 2020 Common Reading selection by May 31, 2019, by clicking here.

For more information about Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood and the Common Reading Program, please visit go.ncsu.edu/commonreading.