First-Year Summer Reading Program

An important part of incoming students' preparation for this fall is your summer reading assignment. Colleges and universities are discovering that students get more out of their college experience if they truly connect with their campus. Summer readings can help jump-start those connections. Through summer reading programs, students and faculty read a book in common over the summer. At the beginning of the fall semester, some structured discussions of the book, as well as the informal discussions that inevitably occur when people have read the same book or seen the same movie, accomplish two goals — they provide a shared experience that can begin the process of community building and they provide an opportunity for new students to get their first taste of what a college-level discussion is like and how it is different from anything they have experienced before.

We are excited that the 2014 book choice is Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV by Jennifer Pozner. In Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth about Guilty Pleasure TV, Jennifer L. Pozner, founder and executive director of Women In Media & News (WIMN), takes a fierce, funny, and in-depth look at how reality TV affects our beliefs, our behavior, and our culture. This genre encourages us to think less and buy more... but Pozner isn't buying. Instead, she lays out the deep-seated biases reality TV promotes about women and men, race and class, love and marriage, sex and beauty, advertising and consumption, and more. Drawing on a decade of journalistic research, she connects the dots between reality TV's hostile representations of women and people of color to decades of similarly harsh narratives in news media and politics. When Tyra Banks shames a poor, single mother of color for her "defeatist attitude" and claims she doesn't want to work hard on America's Next Top Model, Pozner hears echoes of diatribes against so-called "lazy welfare queens" in 1980s and early 1990s journalism. And what else are Wife Swap and Nanny 9-11, she asks, if not a continuation of that factually specious yet ever-present old media chestnut, the "Mommy Wars"?

On Thursday, October 2, the author, Jennifer Pozner will be speaking to all incoming freshmen at 7pm in the Green Music Center. Attendance at this event is mandatory for all freshmen.

Copies of Reality Bites Back can be purchased at the SSU Bookstore during and after orientation.

While reading, think about these themes that are seen throughout the book and that will relate to your experience as a freshman.

  • Racism
  • Sexism
  • Socioeconomic Status
  • Substance abuse
  • Healthy relationships
  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health
  • Expressing sexuality
  • Personal & social responsibility
  • Values exploration

For more information on the author and the book, please click here: