Summer Reading Program / Reading Guide and Discussion Questions

Summer Reading Program 2016


Dear New Meredith Student—

In this exciting summer between high school and college, we ask that you take some time to read this year’s summer reading program selection.  This program was created for you, our newest community member, to help ease the transition to college by creating a shared reading experience that will help you connect with other students, faculty and staff at Meredith.

This year’s book is Dimestore, by North Carolina writer Lee Smith.  It is a collection of essays she has written over the years about her life in Virginia and North Carolina.  In these entertaining and very readable pieces, Smith contemplates the value of her home community and traces the influences and inspirations that led her to become one of the region’s most famous and successful storytellers.    You may be familiar with her novels and story collections, which include Fair and Tender Ladies, Guests on Earth, Family Linen, Oral History, and others.  She will visit Meredith in October to talk with students and present a lecture.

We ask that you purchase a copy of the book and read it carefully during the summer.  It is available at the Meredith bookstore as well as in most local bookstores.  Please use the questions included with this letter to consider the important issues Smith presents and to prepare for a discussion with your advising group.  

If you have questions about the Summer Reading Program, please contact Chrissie Bumgardner, co-director for First Year Experience, at 919-760-2284 or

Enjoy your reading, and we welcome you to the Meredith community!

Chrissie Bumgardner, Co-Director for First Year Experience                                         

Rebecca Duncan, Ph.D, Professor -  English



Reading Questions for Lee Smith’s Dimestore


Smith has a clear sense of place when she thinks of home.  Do you have a place that feels like home?  Name its location and describe your life there.  What kinds of experiences and relationships connect you to that particular place?


How has your home changed over the years?  Have there been changes in the businesses and industries that provide income?  What about environmental or social changes? 


How has your home community helped to shape you as a person? 


Smith writes about the significance of food and shared meals throughout her life.  What cultural elements of your life have significance to your family? 


Smith knew from a young age that she liked to read, hear and tell stories.  What kinds of interests or talents from your early life would like to pursue and develop?


Smith’s home provides comfort and security and fond memories, yet even at a young age she could pick up on struggles with alcohol and relationships.  How does her community handle these issues?


What expectations did Smith’s mother and other family members have for her?  Do you sense that family and others in your community have expectations for you?  What are your thoughts about those expectations? 


How do you envision the future of your home community?  Do you picture yourself living there as an adult? Why or why not? 


Some of these essays tell of Smith’s adult life, which she has lived mostly in North Carolina.  What experiences and emotions in these essays did you find touching or insightful about life in general?


What will you want to ask Smith when she visits us on campus on October 12?

Contact Information:

Office of the, Dean of Students
2nd Floor, Park Center (919) 760-8050

Chrissie Bumgardner
Co-Director, First Year Experience
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Angela Smedley
Co-Director, First Year Experience
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