What Incoming Ivy League Freshmen Are Reading This Summer

Melia Robinson

A summer reading assignment is a college tradition, one that unites incoming students in an intellectual and "Uggggh, can you believe they gave us homework over the summer?" kind of way.

The Ivy League institutions are no exceptions. We dug up what texts they assigned to the Class of 2018 by visiting their orientation websites and speaking with university officials.

Harvard University and Yale University are not included on this list, as they give their kids the summer off.

BROWN UNIVERSITY: "Oil & Water" directed by Francine Strickwerda

For the first time in the program's eight-year history, Brown selected a movie instead of a book to unite first-year students in a "common intellectual experience."

"Oil & Water," according to the university's website, is "a coming-of-age story of two boys, from two different backgrounds, confronting one of the world’s worst toxic disasters."

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A summer reading of "The Iliad" is a Columbia tradition. It's read and discussed in students' first weeks on campus each year, according to the Center for Student Advising.

Richmond Lattimore's latest translation of Homer's epic war poem is said to "bring the book into the twenty-first century."

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CORNELL UNIVERSITY: "Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio" by Amara Lakhous

Amara Lakhous' colorful, bittersweet comedy follows the culturally mixed residents of a Rome, Italy apartment building, as the community deals with the mysterious death of a neighbor.

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DARTMOUTH COLLEGE: Excerpts from "For Common Things" by Jedediah Purdy

Jedediah Purdy calls "For Common Things" his "letter of love for the world's possibilities."

Professor Erich Ostenberg selected excerpts that reflect the mission of Purdy's writing: to rally one's self to the important and complex decisions of the future, and respond in a way that benefits the common good.

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PRINCETON UNIVERSITY: "Meaning in Life and Why It Matters" by Susan Wolf

"What makes a life meaningful," says Princeton President Eisgruber, is at "the heart of a liberal arts education."

That's why he selected the book, based on lectures given by alumna Susan Wolf at Princeton in 2007, for the second year of the Princeton Pre-read.

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UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA: "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down" by Anne Fadiman

The Penn Reading Project enters its 24th year with "The Spirit Catches You," a medical drama relevant to U.S. healthcare today.

Anne Fadiman explores the tragic consequences of cultural misunderstandings, following a Hmong family of refugees who immigrate to California to find their daughter relief from severe epilepsy.

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Now see where the smarties go.

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