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Common Book Otterbein University

The Common Book guide showcases past Common Books and their resources, the current Common Book and the guidelines and lists for future Common Books.

The Origin of The Common Book

Otterbein University has established a common reading experience for new students through a gift from an alumna, Mary Thomas '28. The selection of books for the common reading experience reflects Otterbein's resolve to add an academic component to new student orientation and to present itself to incoming students as an intellectual community willing to grapple with significant contemporary issues. Since 1995, the series seeks to stimulate a year-long discussion of an academic theme derived from  common book issues by exploring it in classes, residence halls, and co-curricular programming. This common reading experience involves all incoming first- year students, faculty, many staff members, and student leaders. A committee of faculty, staff, and students select from over fifty books each year in an effort to find a significant contemporary work to read the next year. 


2025 Reading List - We Are Down to the Final Twelve!

These titles are on order in the library, and the call numbers will be updated once the books have been received and processed.

Reading Rubric Guide & Current Reading List

The reading rubric helps readers make decisions on nominations. 

Do you have a title you think would make a good Common Book?  Use the form below. 

What makes a successful Common Book?

Common Book Criteria

The following is the criteria for the Common Book selection:

  • It encourages scholastic intellectual development for new students.
  • It is compatible with Otterbein's mission.
  • It is appropriate for a wide variety of disciplines and classes.
  • It is by a significant contemporary author who can visit campus.
  • It is not a book read in high school.
  • It is challenging but not overwhelming to entering first-year students.
  • It provides potential for hands-on experiences or service learning.
  • It will sustain discussion for a year.

Selection of the Common Book

A committee of faculty, staff, and students select from over fifty books each year in an effort to find a significant contemporary work to read the next year. Members of the committee meet weekly to discuss the books nominated for the next Common Book, and then continue to meet to prepare the introduction of the book to the campus community.

If you enjoy reading and are interested in joining the committee, contact Colette Masterson, Co-Chair of the Common Book Committee, at (614) 823-3205 or Send your suggestions or reviews of the books to the committee via Katie Albright at