NYU Reads brings the NYU community together around a single common reading, chosen by a University committee made up of faculty, student, and administrator representatives. Building on our undergraduate schools’ first-year reading programs, NYU Reads extends this dialogue beyond Welcome Week and opens it up to the entire University community.
Selected for NYU's Fall 2019 common reading, Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover (Random House, 2018) is the story of a woman who was raised in a survivalist family in rural Idaho and whose early instruction was not only informal but, in her own words, “erratic and incomplete.” Isolated from mainstream society, she stepped foot into a classroom for the first time at age seventeen and thereafter embarked on a quest for knowledge, teaching herself enough to be admitted to Brigham Young University. Though her first year of college was a challenge on several fronts, Westover succeeded in overcoming the gaps in her education and the difficulties of adapting to a starkly different environment; she not only graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young, but went on to earn a Ph.D. in history from Cambridge University. This remarkable and beautifully written memoir explores the transformative power of education; the impact of knowledge on an individual’s search for identity and self-expression; the experience of learning about difference, home, and the world; the pull of family ties; and the value of determination and resilience.
For most incoming students, the transition to college represents a step into a larger, more public, and more diverse world of ideas, people, and cultures. Our hope is that reading Educated will prompt students to reflect on their journeys to this point in their lives and also spark conversations about the mosaic of experiences that they can anticipate during their time at NYU—from adapting to a new environment, to finding mentors and finding help, to assuming responsibility for their education, to confronting ideas and experiences that challenge their worldview.
Educated is an inspirational read, but it can also be a tough read. The book makes reference to physical and emotional abuse, mental health disorders, racism, and struggles with religious beliefs and identity. If you need emotional support while reading, or if you have concerns about reading a book in which such experiences are depicted, professional counselors are available to talk 24/7 through the Wellness Exchange hotline at 212-443-9999 or to chat through the Wellness Exchange app (available in the Apple App Store or Google Play).