Posted Friday 9 March 2018
Kingston University's award-winning Big Read project is returning for a fourth time – with six books by leading female authors in the running to be this year's chosen title.
As part of the annual University-wide shared reading scheme, a specially-printed edition of a book is sent to every undergraduate and postgraduate student ahead of arriving at the institution to welcome them to their new life on campus.
The Kingston University Big Read has gone from strength to strength since launching in 2015 and last year won sector-leading publication the Times Higher Education's Widening Participation Initiative of the Year. The award recognises the most imaginative and innovative University project to encourage students from non-traditional backgrounds to enter higher education or extend the reach of an institution in new areas of activity.
The project has also received widespread praise from across the University community, with new students reporting that it has helped make them feel welcome and settle in at their new institution. Copies are also made available to staff and other students each year, creating opportunities for book-related conversations both on campus and in the wider community.
The final shortlist for this year's campaign has been narrowed down from around 100 titles suggested by staff and students from across the University who have been reviewing and reading each book put forward.
The six shortlisted books – in alphabetical order by author – are:
Two of the titles on the shortlist are also among 16 books in the running for the 2018 Women's Prize for Fiction – Gail Honeyman's Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Kamila Shamsie's Home Fire.
This year's chosen book will join About a Boy by Kingston University alumnus Nick Hornby, The Humans by Matt Haig and My Name is Leon by Kit de Waal in the Kingston University Big Read hall of fame.
While other institutions across the United Kingdom have experimented with reading schemes linked to particular faculties or genres of books – on the back of similar projects in the United States – Kingston University was the first in Britain to establish and analyse a scheme on such a large scale, inviting the local community to participate alongside its own staff and student body.
Big Read Director, Associate Professor Alison Baverstock said the shared reading project built on Kingston University's strong sense of community and commitment to providing an inclusive environment for all its students and staff.
"The Big Read is a great way of bringing together people who may not have met before or otherwise have come in to contact with each other, helping break the ice and giving them something interesting to talk about," she said. "We've also had great feedback from academic and professional staff about how the scheme has helped make them feel more connected right across the institution.
"While finding a book everyone will love is an almost impossible task, what we are looking for is a book that has themes anyone can relate to, whether they are a student, staff member or local resident," she added.
"The look, feel and opening pages have to grab the attention of both book lovers and those who may not regularly read for pleasure – and be something new students are excited to receive through the letterbox."
Once the winning book has been selected, the Big Read team will then work with the chosen publisher to produce a bespoke Kingston University edition that will be posted out to new students, with further copies available at receptions and learning resources centres across the institution.
People are encouraged to share their thoughts on the shortlisted titles through social media using the hashtag #KUBR2018, before a panel of University staff and students from across the institution select the winner of this year's Kingston University Big Read in April.