Fresh Reads, CBU’s freshman summer reading program, was started in the summer of 2011 in order to give new students a common academic experience! Freshmen, upperclassmen and faculty members read the same book and have numerous opportunities to discuss it throughout the school year at various First Year Experience events.
The Fresh Reads program committee selects a book that is engaging and thought provoking. In turn, new freshmen are invited to read the book, consider the issues it raises and respond to it with an essay.
As you arrive at CBU and embark on a new chapter of your life as a college student, we hope that your Fresh Reads book will move you to think about your life so far and the lives of those around you, motivating you to change, serve, respond and consider. You will receive a free copy of the book when you arrive on campus for Freshman Orientation.
The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears
For 2014, we have chosen Ethiopian writer Dinaw Mengestu's award-winning novel, The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears. Blending fiction with fact and Mengestu’s own history, the book details the experiences of Sepha Stephanos, an Ethiopian immigrant living in Washington, DC after fleeing his country’s revolution seventeen years earlier. Sepha’s only friends are two African immigrants – Joseph, from the Congo, and Kenneth, from Kenya – who share his feelings of frustration with and bitter nostalgia for their home in Africa. He realizes that his life has turned out completely different and far more isolated from the one he had imagined for himself years ago. Stephanos struggles with his own self-identity as well as his concept of home in America and Africa in this 2007 novel.
Dinaw Mengestu was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in 1978. He immigrated to the United States in 1980 with his mother and sister, joining his father, who had fled Ethiopia during the Red Terror two years before. Mengestu is a graduate of Georgetown University and of Columbia University’s M.F.A. program in fiction. He has been the recipient of a fellowship in fiction from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a 5 Under 35 Award from the National Book Foundation, The New Yorker’s 20 under 40 Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship. In 2012, he was a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship recipient and was one of 23 to be awarded a genius grant from the foundation.
The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears (published in the UK under the title, Children of the Revolution) won the Guardian Unlimited’s First Book Award. It was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2007 and was a Los Angeles Times bestseller. As a freelance journalist, Mengestu has traveled to war-torn regions of sub-Saharan Africa to write about life in Darfur, northern Uganda and eastern Congo near the border with Rwanda. His journalism and fiction have appeared in several publications including Harper’s, Granta, Rolling Stone, The New Yorker and The Wall Street Journal. Mengestu has resided in New York and Paris, but has now returned to Washington, DC with his wife Anne-Emmanuelle and their two sons. He is currently serving as Lannan Foundation Chair of Poetics at Georgetown University.
Here’s a link to Dinaw Mengestu reading a section of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kvWtGC6UEBM
Previous Fresh Reads Book Titles
2013: The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
2012: The Noticer by Andy Andrews
2011: The Soloist by Steve Lopez
For more information on CBU's Fresh Reads Program and this year's book selection, please contact the Program Director: Dr. Karen Golightly at email@example.com