The Honors Read

“[The Honors Read] should provide students with an introduction to what Honors is all about and relate to the various readings within the first-year curriculum. In order to spark interest and discussion, it should say something both important and controversial.”

Sarah Penley ’04

Do you have a favorite on your bookshelf?

Nominate it for the next Honors read!

Each year, starting in 2002 with the Class of 2006, incoming Honors College students have been presented with a copy of the year’s Honors Read either at New Student Orientation in June or through the mail.  While being asked to read a text over the summer before coming to college is not always viewed in a positive way, the Honors Read provides a common experience for each of these nearly three hundred students coming to UMaine from across the state, across the country, and across the world. It is the first common text for this cohort, introducing new students into the nature and structure of the Honors curriculum.  The Honors Read serves as the basis for a discussion in the first general session of these students’ Honors journey, and it informs subsequent discussions and explorations throughout the four-semester Civilizations sequence.

The Honors Read (for the class entering the following year) is chosen each fall by a eight students enrolled in Honors 309: The Honors Read Tutorial facilitated by the Dean of The Honors College.  They consider texts nominated by members of the University community, narrow the candidates first down to eight books, then proceed to carefully analyze and evaluate each text based on criteria they have developed.  The deliberation on each text includes consideration of reviews written by members of  the tutorial and a discussion with the nominator of the text.  The final three weeks of the course are devoted to deliberations focused on reaching a consensus on the next Honors Read and crafting a letter to the incoming students which accompanies each copy of the book.

The University of Maine Class Book

The success of the Honors Read is built on a ten-year tradition at The University of Maine, the Class Book.  Between 1992 and 2002, the Faculty Senate, in consultation with the Department of English, chose a book to be read, both in English 101 and wherever it would inform the curriculum, by all first-year students.  Serving as an intellectual focus for the campus, the Class Book was a great experiment, the passing of which saddened many of us on campus.  In many ways, the Honors Read was designed to reproduce the energy and excitement of the Class Book project.

2001-02    Hearts in Atlantis (Stephen King)
2000-01    The Color of Water (James McBride)
1999-00    A Midwife’s Tale (Laurel Thatcher Ulrich)
1998-99    Lies My Teacher Told Me (James Loewen)
1997-98    The Ecology of Commerce (Paul Hawken)
1996-97    I,Rigoberta Menchú (Rigoberta Menchú)
1995-96    The Things They Carried (Tim O’Brien)
1994-95    The Disuniting of America (Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.)
1993-94    Lying (Sissela Bok)
1992-93    Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s Toes (Stephen Jay Gould)