How to Choose a Good Book

by Dr. Marilyn Thomas, First Year Experience Coordinator and Professor of Humanities

If reading and sharing a book with another person can be a way to bond with that person, then sharing a book with several hundred people can also be a bonding experience if the book read addresses a pertinent topic and leads to animated discussion on that topic. With this goal in mind, a group of faculty, staff, and students met regularly throughout the spring semester of 2010 in search of just such a book, a book for the incoming freshmen, a book that the faculty could incorporate in their teaching, a book that could give students something to talk about outside of the classroom.

In our choice, The Art of Choosing, Sheena Iyengar shares the results of her extensive research regarding the role of choice in our lives, how choices reflect cultural values (whether consciously or subconsciously), how choice often wins over lack of choice, even when choice might yield deprivation and lack of choice comfort, how our individual world views are a reflection of how we view the role of choice, or lack of it, in our lives. How much of our lives do we see as dependent on chance, how much on destiny, how much on choice? Our answers to these questions reveal much about ourselves and our motivation. From a tiger’s pacing in a zoo to a buyer’s paralysis in a grocery store, Iyengar takes the reader on a psychological journey that examines just one thing: choice.