Technology Is Focus of Summer Reading

The Shallows by Nicholas Carr will be the 2012 summer reading book for incoming students at Carolina.

A nine-member selection committee of students, faculty and staff selected the book from six finalists. Students on the committee described The Shallows as being able to bring the growing necessity of technology to attention.

Kevin Stewart, associate professor in the department of geological sciences and chair of the committee, said the book was relevant to the lives of many people today.

“The book causes the reader to think critically about how and why technology, particularly the Internet, has shaped our lives and the way that we think,” Stewart said.

New students who will enroll next fall are expected and encouraged to read the book this summer and participate in small group discussions on the Monday before classes start in the fall. The program, now in its 14th year, aims to stimulate critical thinking outside the classroom and give new students intellectual common ground. An academic icebreaker, it encourages students to engage with the scholarly community and come to their own conclusions about the material.

The Shallows, published in 2010, describes how human thought has been shaped through the centuries by “tools of the mind” and how our brains, revealed through historical and scientific evidence, change in response to our experiences.

The book was a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for general nonfiction and for the 2011 PEN Center USA Literary Award for research nonfiction.

The other five finalists were The Big Sort by Bill Bishop and Robert Cushing; The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer; Half the Sky by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn; It Happened on the Way to War by Rye Barcott ’01; and Garbage Land by Elizabeth Royte. The committee considered fiction and nonfiction, although the finalists were all nonfiction.

Since it began in 1999, UNC’s program has featured There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz; Confederates in the Attic by Tony Horwitz; The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman; Approaching the Qur’an by Michael Sells; Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich; Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point by David Lipsky; Blood Done Sign My Name by Timothy B. Tyson; The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri; The Death of the Innocents: An Eyewitness Account of Wrongful Executions by Sister Helen Prejean; Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights by Kenji Yoshino; A Home on the Field by UNC Assistant Professor Paul Cuadros; Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton; and Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer.

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To mark the magazine’s centennial in 2012, all 100 years of the Review dating to October 1912 have been added to the magazine’s digital archive. Issues from the most recent five years are available to Carolina Alumni members only, as a benefit of membership in the association; earlier issues are open to anyone. Tools are available for searching, sharing, printing and downloading articles and photos.

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