Books chosen for freshmen classes

This semester, the ‘Common Read’ books chosen by the English department are “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” by Tom Franklin and “Unmentionables: Poems” by Beth Ann Fennelly.

“Each semester we try to have a common read and we try to invite that author to campus,” said freshman English coordinator and instructor Dr. Natasha Whitton. “So we are limited to authors that are living and we try to pick authors that are writing about topics that we think students in freshman English at Southeastern will be interested in.”

The novel “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” takes place in rural Mississippi in the 1970s and follows the lives and friendship of two boys, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones. One day, a girl goes missing in their small county and everything comes into question.

“It’s a book about their friendship, the relationship that they build, but then it is also a mystery or a thriller,” said Whitton.

According to Whitton, last semester’s common read book, “Highwire Moon,” left some students feeling disappointed by the ending. She hopes that they will find “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter” a more satisfying read.

The second chosen common work, “Unmentionables: Poems” by Beth Ann Fennelly, was chosen for an interesting reason. Not only does she live in Mississippi, but she is also married to Tom Franklin. Her writing also reflects some of her southern background, with poems such as “The Kudzu Chronicles.”

“We do like to include a poetry option because sometimes it’s difficult to get through an entire novel in a semester,” said Whitton. “But if we have a collection of poems where we can really spend a couple of days digging into a few poems.”

Required reading has long been a frustration for many students. Most find it very frustrating to read a book they didn’t pick and that they end up not liking.

“I believe that, at this level of education, students need to understand that assignments, such as required reading, are a part of being in college,” said Dylan Leblanc, a freshman political science major. “Though the school must also be accountable for finding a piece of literature that the majority of students will be interested in reading.”

The English department works hard to find literature that students will be interested in reading and that was written by authors who live nearby. On March 26, Tom Franklin and his wife, Beth Ann Fennelly, will be visiting Southeastern to do readings and to speak to students.