Special Note on This Year's Common Reading
I wanted to include a special note this year regarding The Big Short. I am just going to level with you: This is not an easy read. In addition to chairing the committee that selects the book, I also am the Director of Discernment and Discourse, SMU’s writing program. If I found Lewis’ book to be a challenge, I am guessing you will, too.
I tell you this not to scare you off from reading the book. Rather, I want to help prepare you for this reading experience. So here is the situation: the first 35-40 pages of Lewis’ text are difficult, even frustrating. Unless you are an expert in matters relating to Wall Street, the bond market, and such, you will be lost, at times, in following what Lewis is saying (In a footnote on p. 77, Lewis even congratulates readers for sticking with the book up to that point. It says a lot when the author finds his own book to be a hard read!). That’s okay. Hang in there! We wouldn’t have chosen the book if we didn’t think that it is interesting, provocative, and, ultimately, a good read. I can tell you that by about page 45, I was hooked. I hope this will be your experience as well.
I also want to share that the two committee members who most strenuously fought for this choice were our two student members. They insisted that the 2012-13 Common Reading be a book relating to the business world. We have covered many topics in our book choices over the years—medical ethics, immigration, multiculturalism, the family—and in truth, it was high time for a book that would be of particular interest to our students who are coming to SMU to study business. And frankly, the committee decided, the economy is something we all have a responsibility to know about and consider.
I hope you’ll enjoy the book. Please visit the website that has been set up to provide additional resources for you as you do your reading including a blog where you can begin to have some dialogue about Lewis’ book. You will find it at www.smu.edu/Provost/Ethics/CommonReading. In addition, you also will find a glossary of useful terms to help you understand the book as you make your way through those early, difficult chapters. Wish I’d had it as I started to read the book! A final thought: college is supposed to be challenging. SMU in particular aims to offer you a first-rate experience that will motivate you to tackle—and conquer—material that initially seems a struggle. You can do this!
Hope to meet you this fall!
Diana Clark Grumbles
~Diana Clark Grumbles is the director of Discernment and Discourse and Chair of the Common Reading Selection Committee