Common Read Program

FIT Common Read Program


The FIT Common Read Program is designed to foster a sense of community by encouraging a shared intellectual experience across the college. Since 2014, a committee of faculty, staff, and administration has selected a book as recommended reading for incoming students to the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Common Read Selection Criteria

A book that:

  • students will enjoy reading and find relevant;
  • will challenge students intellectually;
  • faculty members can incorporate into their course reading lists;
  • can be discussed across the disciplines;
  • has not already appeared on most high school reading lists;
  • does not exceed 300-350 pages;
  • is available in various formats and is accessible to all; and 
  • ideally, has a living author.

To submit your suggestion(s) for books to be considered for selection for the 2024-25 Common Read Program, check back here at a later date.

2023-24 Common Read Selection Committee

Dr. Patrick Knisley, Dean for the School of Liberal Arts (Co-chair)
Carli Spina, Associate Professor and Head of Research & Instructional Services at the Gladys Marcus Library (Co-chair) 
Dr. Jay Choi, Assistant Professor, Acting Director for Counseling Services
Dr. Subhalakshmi Gooptu, Assistant Professor, English and Communication Studies
Dr. Amanda Page-Hoongrajok, Assistant Professor, Social Sciences
Dr. Walter S. Temple, Associate Professor, Modern Languages and Cultures


FIT Common Read Selections

Fall 2023 / Spring 2024
Title: Braiding Sweetgrass For Young Adults: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants 
Author: Robin Wall Kimmerer and adapted by Monique Gray Smith

"Drawing from her experiences as an Indigenous scientist, botanist Robin Wall Kimmerer demonstrated how all living things―from strawberries and witch hazel to water lilies and lichen―provide us with gifts and lessons every day in her best-selling book Braiding Sweetgrass. Adapted for young adults by Monique Gray Smith, this new edition reinforces how wider ecological understanding stems from listening to the earth’s oldest teachers: the plants around us. With informative sidebars, reflection questions, and art from illustrator Nicole Neidhardt, Braiding Sweetgrass for Young Adults brings Indigenous wisdom, scientific knowledge, and the lessons of plant life to a new generation." —via Field Museum


Fall 2020 / Spring 2021, Fall 2021 / Spring 2022
TitleTell Me Who You Are: Sharing Our Stories of Race, Culture, and Identity
AuthorWinona Guo & Priya Vulchi

"In this deeply inspiring book, Winona Guo and Priya Vulchi recount their experiences talking to people from all walks of life about race and identity on a cross-country tour of America. Spurred by the realization that they had nearly completed high school without hearing any substantive discussion about racism in school, the two young women deferred college admission for a year to collect first-person accounts of how racism plays out in this country every day -- and often in unexpected ways.” —via Penguin Randomhouse


Fall 2019 / Spring 2020 
TitleWhat It Means When A Man Falls from the Sky
AuthorLesley Nneka Arimah

“Strange and wonderful… a witty, oblique and mischievous storyteller, Arimah can compress a family history into a few pages and invent utopian parables, magical tales and nightmare scenarios while moving deftly between comic distancing and insightful psychological realism…her science fiction parables, with their ecological and feminist concerns, recall those of Margaret Atwood. But it would be wrong not to hail Arimah’s exhilarating originality: She is conducting adventures in narrative on her own terms, keeping her streak of light, that bright ember, burning fiercely, undimmed.” — via New York Times Book Review


Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 
TitleThe 57 Bus
AuthorDashka Slater

In this true story of two teenagers from different sides of Oakland, California, and the bus ride that leaves one of them severely burned and the other facing criminal charges, award-winning journalist and author Dashka Slater chips away at the binaries that frame our understanding of the world. No simple morality tale and far more than a legal thriller, The 57 Bus is a genre-bending book that reveals the tangled complexities of gender, race, crime and justice in modern-day America.

Sasha, a white genderqueer high school student, was wearing a skirt on the bus when Richard, a black student from a struggling neighborhood, set Sasha’s skirt on fire. The genre-bending story that follows is no simple morality tale, as it reveals the tangled complexities of gender, race, crime, justice and hope in America. Bird’s-eye views of Oakland and official statistics are spliced together with instant messages, social media posts, and other primary sources. Emphasizing the interconnected nature of humanity, Slater reveals her characters and their web of relationships with deftness and fluidity. — Jon Little (


Fall 2017 / Spring 2018 
TitleSo You've Been Publicly Shamed
AuthorJon Ronson

So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is Ronson's tour through a not-necessarily-brave new world where faceless commenters wield the power to destroy lives and careers, where the punishments often outweigh the crimes, and where there is no self-control and (ironically) no consequences. On one hand, part of what makes this book (again, ironically) so fun to read is a certain schadenfreude; it’s fun to read about others' misfortunes, especially if we think they "had it coming." Jonah Lehrer, whose admitted plagiarism and falsifications probably earned him his fall, stalks these pages. But so does Justine Sacco, whose ill-conceived tweet probably didn’t merit hers; as it turns out, the internet doesn’t always differentiate the misdemeanors from the felonies. But the best reason to read this is Ronson's style, which is funny and brisk, yet informative and never condescending. So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed is not a scholarly book, nor is it a workbook about navigating ignominy. It's an entertaining investigation into a growing—and often disturbing—demimonde of uncharitable impulses run amok. — Jon Foro ( review)


Fall 2016 / Spring 2017, Fall 2015 / Spring 2016
TitleWhere Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factors, and People That Make Our Clothes
AuthorKelsey Timmerman

More about the Author
Kelsey Timmerman is the New York Times bestselling author of Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factories, and People That Make Our Clothes and Where Am I Eating? An Adventure Through the Global Food Economy. His writing has appeared in places such as the Christian Science Monitor and has aired on NPR. Kelsey is also the co-founder of the Facing Project, which seeks to connect people through stories to strengthen community. He has spent the night in Castle Dracula in Romania, played PlayStation in Kosovo, farmed on four continents, taught an island village to play baseball in Honduras, and in another life, worked as a Scuba instructor in Key West, Florida. Whether in print or in person he seeks to connect people around the world. (from

More about Where Am I Wearing? A Global Tour to the Countries, Factors, and People That Make Our Clothes:
When journalist and traveler Kelsey Timmerman wanted to know more about where his clothes came from and who made them, he began a journey that would take him from Honduras to Bangladesh to Cambodia to China and back again. In Where Am I Wearing?, Kelsey introduces you to the human side of globalization—the factory workers, their names, their families, and their way of life—and bridges the gap between global producers and consumers.


Fall 2014 / Spring 2015
TitleRelish: My Life in the Kitchen
AuthorLucy Knisley

More about Relish: My Life in the Kitchen
Knisley, daughter of a chef mother and gourmand father, had the kind of upbringing that would make any foodie salivate, and she’s happy to share. In this collection of memories studded with recipes, she explores how food shaped her family life, friendships, travel experiences, and early career as a cartoonist. Loosely connected chapters chart a child- and young adulthood surrounded by cooks and bakers, bouncing between Manhattan kitchens and upstate farmhouses, and through art school and the booming culinary scene in Chicago. Knisley’s artwork has a classic, Richard Scarry vibe, and her illustrated recipes—from a family-special leg of lamb and huevos rancheros to the trick for perfectly sautéed mushrooms—are particularly delightful and inventive. Knisley tempers any navel-gazing impulses with humor, humility, and honesty, noting, for example, that even someone who loves fine food can still put away a truckload of McDonald’s fries from time to time. Just about everything in this rambling memoir is handled with good cheer, which hints at the positive energy and personal fulfillment Knisley has wrought from her young life in food. —Ian Chipman