About KU’s first common book and the program

The common book: “Notes from No Man’s Land,” a collection of essays by Eula Biss, published in 2009. The book covers a breadth of topics, including issues of race, identity, fear, kinship and responsibility.

The common book program: The program is part of KU’s ongoing Bold Aspirations strategic plan. Administrators hope the common reading experience will help students build social and intellectual connections.

Why it was chosen: The selection committee noted, “Overall, the committee sought a book that was provocative, challenging, creative and meaningful. ‘Notes from No Man’s Land’ carries out these qualities across all of its components: presentation, diction, prose and subject.

“We chose ‘Notes from No Man’s Land’ as KU’s inaugural common book not because it met selection criteria, but because it far exceeded them.”

The selection process: “Notes from No Man’s Land” was chosen after a selection process that considered 125 books nominated by the KU community. A selection committee of students, faculty and staff unanimously recommended the book to KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, who approved the choice.

Copies of the book given out at KU: More than 4,500.

To whom? Incoming freshmen, transfer students and new international students.

More information: The website commonbook.ku.edu contains detailed information about the book and the program, including book-discussion events, a reader’s guide, notes from the selection committee and a full list of books that were nominated, among other resources.

Author visit: Eula Biss will speak about “Who, Then, is One’s Neighbor?” in a campus conversation at 5 p.m. Oct. 4 in the Kansas Union Ballroom.