UCLA's Common Book Program

Book Covers

Francisco Cantu's memoir, The Line Becomes a River, has been selected as the UCLA Common Book for the 2018-2019 academic year.  The Common Book experience was created for all new undergraduate Bruins as a way to be part of campus-wide discussions on compelling social issues.  Distribution of the Common Book will occur at the start of Winter quarter.  Students interested in reading the text can pick up their copies at designated distribution locations on campus.  Please note, there will be a limited supply of this special-edition print.

During Winter and Spring quarters, students are able to participate in discussions of the book and related issues.  We also encourage faculty and staff to incorporate themes and ideas from the Common Book in their courses and programs.

Program Description

What is the Common Book Program?

  • A book selected and provided to the UCLA community, targeting incoming students

  • A book that intellectually engages students

  • A book that unifies the campus through a common discussion

Program Goals

Goals of the Common Book program include:

  • Ignite campus-wide discussions on compelling social issues

  • Inspire action

Program History

The UCLA Common Book program began in 2008 as a way to engage students in conversations around global citizenship and cultural competency. Started as a "think tank" program by Dr. David Gere and Bridget Collier, the first Common Book was piloted with a small community of students in Hedrick Summit. Through year-long programs and seminar-based discussions, students were able to translate themes from the first Common Book, Mountains beyond Mountains by Dr. Tracy Kidder, into positive high-impact actions that improved the UCLA community.

The students' passions and engagements demonstrated the power of literature as a common, unifying experience for people from all walks of life.  Since 2008, the Common Book program has expanded its reach to all first year Bruins.  Through intellectual and community-building activities inspired by the Common Book, the program continues to provide a platform for students to share a diversity of perspectives, build a community of learners, explore their roles in creating a just society, and identify critical action steps to address the common experience.


 A Retrospective of the Common Book Program

  • The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu (2018-2019)

  • Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder (2009-2010)

  • Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (2010-2011)

  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot (2011-2012)

  • The Other by Wes Moore (2012-2013)

  • Pedro & Me by Judd Winick (2013-2014)

  • I Never Had It Made by Jackie Robinson (2014-2015)

  • Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (2015-2016)

  • Between The World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates (2016-2017)

  • The Best We Could Do by Thi Bui (2017-2018)

  • The Line Becomes a River by Francisco Cantu (2018-2019)