Fresh Reads

Fresh Reads, CBU’s freshman summer reading program, was started in the summer of 2011 in order to give new students a common academic experience! Freshmen, upperclassmen and faculty members read the same book and have numerous opportunities to discuss it throughout the school year at various First Year Experience events. 

The Fresh Reads program committee selects a book that is engaging and thought provoking. In turn, new freshmen are invited to read the book, consider the issues it raises and respond to it with an essay. 

As you arrive at CBU and embark on a new chapter of your life as a college student, we hope that your Fresh Reads book will move you to think about your life so far and the lives of those around you, motivating you to change, serve, respond and consider. You will receive a free copy of the book when you arrive on campus for Freshman Orientation.

What is the What by Dave Eggers

For 2015, we have chosen Dave Eggers’ 2006 book, What is the What, which is the story of Sudanese lost boy Valentino Achak Deng. Separated from his family during the Second Sudanese Civil War, Deng led a nomadic lifestyle as he fled one place to another seeking refuge while losing family and friends along the way. Terror-stricken and running for his life, Deng’s story of hardships continue for many years until he makes it to Kenya, and ultimately, the United States, where he met Dave Eggers. After telling his story, Eggers felt compelled to capture this lost voice that represents over 20,000 boys who were orphaned and displaced during the Second Sudanese War from 1983-2005.

Dave Eggers has penned more than 20 award-winning books like A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius (2000), You Shall Know Our Velocity (2002), How We Are Hungry (2004), and several others. Founder of independent book publishing house McSweeney’s, Eggers is known for his work as an editor of The Best American Nonrequired Reading series and co-editor of the Voice of Witness series of oral histories. With a heart for youth and education, he opened a writing/tutoring lab for teens and young adults called 826 Valencia, which has expanded to more than 800 locations in major U.S. cities. In addition, Eggers co-wrote the book Teachers Have It Easy: The Big Sacrifices and Small Salaries of America’s Teachers, a comprehensive look at America’s classrooms through the eyes of hundreds of educators. He received a TED prize in 2008.

As one of the Lost Boys, Valentino Achak Deng trekked hundreds of miles from his village of Marial Bai, pursued by animals and government militias, and lived for years in refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia. He eventually resettled in America, to a new set of challenges. Deng's life is the basis of Dave Eggers' epic book What Is the What, which Francine Prose calls "an extraordinary work of witness, and of art." With Eggers, Deng is co-founder of the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, which helps rebuild Sudanese communities by providing educational opportunities and facilities. In 2009, as part of his Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, he opened the Marial Bai Secondary School, the region's first proper high school.

Previous Fresh Reads Book Titles

2014: The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears by Dinaw Mengestu 
2013: The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore
2012: The Noticer by Andy Andrews
2011: The Soloist by Steve Lopez 

For more information on CBU's Fresh Reads Program and this year's book selection, please contact the Program Director, Dr. Karen Golightly at