Open Books - Open Minds

It's time to vote!

The Open Books-Open Minds Committee invites the campus community to select from these top three titles for the 2017-2018 Common Book.

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker protects watched groups from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble—until he falls in love with the wrong woman and unleashes a forbidden text thought to be written by the jinn. As the book opens, Alif ’s computer has just been breached by the “Hand of God,” as the hackers call the state’s electronic security force, and he is scrambling to protect his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other vulnerable groups. When The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, falls into his hands, he discovers its potential unleash a new level of information technology. The stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death. Alif the Unseen is a tour de force that will enchant readers— a sophisticated melting pot of ideas, philosophy, religion, technology, and spirituality smuggled inside an irresistible page-turner.



Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Hailed by Toni Morrison as "required reading," a bold and personal literary exploration of America's racial history. In a profound work that pivots from the biggest questions about American history and ideals to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son, Ta-Nehisi Coates offers a powerful new framework for understanding our nation's history and current crisis. Coates shares with his son--and readers--the story of his awakening to the truth about his place in the world through a series of revelatory experiences, from Howard University to Civil War battlefields, from the South Side of Chicago to Paris, from his childhood home to the living rooms of mothers whose children's lives were taken as American plunder. Beautifully woven from personal narrative, reimagined history, and fresh, emotionally charged reportage, Between the World and Me clearly illuminates the past, bracingly confronts our present, and offers a transcendent vision for a way forward.


Make Your Home Among Strangers by Jennine Capó Cruce

When Lizet, the daughter of Cuban immigrants and the first in her family to graduate from high school, secretly applies and is accepted to an ultra-elite college, her parents are furious at her decision to leave Miami. Just weeks before she's set to start school, her parents divorce and her father sells her childhood home, leaving Lizet, her mother, and Leidy—Lizet's older sister, a brand-new single mom-without a steady income and scrambling for a place to live. Amidst this turmoil, Lizet begins her first semester at college in upstate New York. Struggling both socially and academically, she returns to Miami for a surprise Thanksgiving visit, only to be overshadowed by the arrival of Ariel Hernandez, a young boy whose mother died fleeing with him from Cuba on a raft. The ensuing immigration battle puts Miami in a glaring spotlight, captivating the nation and entangling Lizet's entire family, especially her mother. Pulled between life at college and the needs of those she loves, Lizet is faced with difficult decisions that will change her life forever. Urgent and mordantly funny, Make Your Home Among Strangers tells the moving story of a young woman torn between generational, cultural, and political forces; it's the new story of what it means to be American today.


Follow this link to cast your vote by March 15, 2017:


The Sixth Annual Open Books – Open Minds Conference

Featuring keynote lecture by Adam Blumenthal, Virtual Artist-in-Residence, Brown University, and co-founder of Curious Sense
Wednesday, April 19, 2017, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

This year OBOM is partnering with the Center for Research and Creative Activity (CRCA, so that the Student Conference will coincide with presentations of student projects at the College-Wide Poster Session in Adams Library. OBOM Student Conference panels, on topics of inquiry inspired by The Shallows, will also be held in the library. Lunch and the keynote address will take place in the Student Union Ballroom.

Click here for more about the Student Conference

Adobe PDFCall for Papers

Adobe PDFIdeas for Teaching and Research

RIC LibGuide for The Shallows

Adobe PDFThe Shallows Reading Guide

Nicholas Carr’s website

Campus News articles: 

Are We Being Controlled By Technology?

OBOM Roundtable to Discuss The Shallows

OBOM Common Books Takes a Look at Mind-Altering Technology

Click here to view upcoming events inspired by Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows

Thank you to all who voted!

The Open Books-Open Minds Committee is pleased to announce that the
2016-2017 Common Book is:

The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains
 by Nicholas Carr is the most compelling exploration of the Internet’s intellectual and cultural consequences yet published. Carr describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind”—from the alphabet to maps, to the printing press, the clock, and the computer—interweaving a fascinating account of recent discoveries in neuroscience. Our brains, the historical and scientific evidence reveals, change in response to our experiences. The technologies we use to find, store, and share information can literally reroute our neural pathways.

W.W. Norton & Company

The Fifth Annual Open Books – Open Minds Conference, inspired by Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao

Reference Department student assistant,
Hector Nunez in the OBOM Book Nook

OBOM Book Nook

Stop by the library to browse in the OBOM Book Nook. We have copies of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains, previous years’ book selections, and the three books under consideration for 2017-2018. The OBOM committee welcomes your feedback on our top three. Please follow this link to cast your vote by March 15, 2018:

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Page last updated: Thursday, December 8, 2016