Meredith College has chosen Educated, a critically acclaimed memoir by Tara Westover, for the 2020 Summer Reading book.
Every year, incoming first-year students are asked to read a book during the summer prior to arriving on campus. This year’s selection is a memoir that takes readers from the author’s difficult childhood to her doctoral education at Cambridge University. Westover’s fortitude allows her to forge a strong sense of self and to escape the worst conditions of her life while acknowledging the best of her family’s heritage.
As the title suggests, Westover credits her hard-won education with lifting her out of a chaotic situation and propelling her to a more fulfilling and satisfying life. That emphasis on the importance and lasting value of education helped drive its selection by Meredith, along with its compelling storyline and well-written prose.
“The book is lyrically and intelligently written,” said Rebecca Duncan, professor of English and co-chair of the Summer Reading Committee. “It will prompt discussions of resilience in the face of family dysfunction, religious and spiritual touchstones, and life aspirations.”
A number of upper-level Meredith students have already read Educated; three English faculty have taught the book in their courses, and reported “excellent outcomes and enthusiastic student approval.”
Eleanor Jones, ’20, also served on the Summer Reading Committee and provided a valuable student perspective. She called Educated a “bold choice.”
“Westover's text is dark and intense, but she creates a complex battle between the comfort of the familiar (despite the fact that the familiar is traumatic and damaging) and the power of education, learning, and living through the unknown,” said Jones. “The book ultimately speaks to how perspective and experience shape so much of who we are – and who we could be if we were to step outside ourselves.”
About Summer Reading
Meredith’s Summer Reading Program enhances the academic climate on campus by engaging incoming first-year students in a shared intellectual endeavor with the entire campus community, including students, faculty, staff, and alumnae.
Incoming first-year students are given questions to guide their reading and then engage in facilitated conversations with faculty, staff, and upper-level students during the fall semester. Students also participate in experiential learning activities related to the book, and frequently attend lectures by or about the books’ authors. Previous summer reading selections include The Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Callings, Dimestore, and A Mighty Long Way: My Journey to Justice at Little Rock Central High School.