About the Common Reading Program
Sierra Nevada College Continues Common Reading Program for Fall 2014
Sierra Nevada College continues the One Book, One Campus program begun in fall 2009, with all incoming Fall 2014 students being asked to read Being Flynn by author Nick Flynn. Formerly titled, Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, Flynn's memoir describes his reunion with his estranged father, Jonathan, an alcoholic resident of the homeless shelter where Nick was a social worker in the late 1980s. The title refers to Jonathan's description of homeless life in Boston. It was published by W.W. Norton in 2004. Flynn earned a 2004 award from Pen International and the title was shorted listed for the Prix Femina. In 2012 the film Being Flynn was released with the new title.
Nick Flynn, in his 20s, hasn't found his place in the world yet, but hopes to be a writer. Around the time he takes a job at a homeless shelter in Boston, his father, Jonathan, who considers himself a great writer and who hasn't see Nick in years, abruptly makes fleeting contact. A few months later, the down-and-out Jonathan shows up at Nick's shelter and becomes a resident. This disorients Nick; he doesn't handle it well, compounded by Jonathan's belligerent behavior. Nick's memories of his mother, his budding relationship with a co-worker, and his own demons make things worse. Can anything improve? Is he his father's son?
Inspired by the popularity of book clubs, a growing number of college campuses are adopting common reading programs. The idea of a common reading selection rests on a simple idea: that reading the same book brings people together as a community by creating a common ground for discussion and intellectual growth. As Dr. Lynn Gillette, Sierra Nevada College President, explains, "For this program, our faculty select literature that reinforces our College’s core values of Sustainability, Liberal Arts, Entrepreneurial Thinking, and Professional Preparedness." Gillette goes on to note that SNC staff and faculty are encouraged to join the community of readers in order to provide a shared academic experience and to stimulate conversations across the campus. Copies of the book are available to faculty and staff, free of charge.
This year we will be reading Nick Flynn's memoir, Being Flynn (originally titled Another Bullshit Night in Suck City), tells Nick's story as he meets his father when working as a caseworker in a homeless shelter in Boston. As a teenager, he'd received letters from this stranger father, a self-proclaimed poet and con man doing time in Federal prison for bank robbery. This is the story of the trajectory that led Nick and his father on the streets, into that shelter, and finally to each other. Nick Flynn will be on campus for a lecture and workshop on Friday and Saturday, September 5-6.