Common reader brings attention to Vietnam War:

By Claire Ekas:

Amarillo College’s 2017-18 Common Reader will be “The Things They Carried” by Tim O’Brien – a collection of short stories that focuses on the Vietnam War.

“The book coincides with the community-wide focus on Vietnam reflecting the release of Ken Burn’s Vietnam documentary, as well as the Creative Mind Humanities Lecture Series focus on war,” Courtney Milleson, the Common Reader committee chair, said.

Every year since 2008, the Common Reader committee, made up of AC staff and faculty, has selected a book to be the year’s Common Reader. The group picks a book that can bring people together and can be used across all courses and departments.

When the committee members choose a book each year, they look for one that coincides with other interests or programming going on at the college.

“We want to select a work that different departments can find ways to use, and often that becomes difficult for departments other than English,” Frank Sobey, vice president of academic affairs, said.

Sobey first read “The Things They Carried” when he was a sophomore in high school. “I think what I appreciate about this collection of short stories is what O’Brien is trying to say about art, which is very important to me. He makes the distinction between real truth, which is essentially the biographical facts of our existence, and story truth. His central claim seems to be that story truth is much more important than what we would call real truth and it’s more about the emotional response to the story.”

Sobey said college officials are investigating the possibility of bringing the author, Tim O’Brien, to campus this spring in conjunction with the Creative Mind Humanities Lecture Program. In previous years, students have said the author visit has been a highlight of the program.

There will also be some new twists on the annual Common Reader competitions. Students will be able to compete in writing competitions in both fall and spring semesters. There will also be new competitions in web design held during the fall and spring semesters and the visual arts competition will continue as in past years.

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