Virginia Tech's Center for Liberal Education has selected Tracy Kidder's Pulitzer Prize-winning "Mountains Beyond Mountains" as this year's Common Book.

Established in 1998 as a means of enriching the first-year experience, the Common Book Project aims to engage first-year students through the lens of a shared reading and is designed to provoke conversation and expanded exploration in and outside of the classroom.

Free copies of the Common Book will be distributed to all freshmen and transfer students following Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Tuesday, Jan. 22 through Thursday, Jan. 24, in the Williamsburg Room in Squires Student Center.

Subtitled "The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, a Man who would Cure the World," "Mountains Beyond Mountains" is an inspirational account of Dr. Paul Farmer’s life as he travels around the globe from Harvard to Haiti, Cuba, Peru, and Russia serving victims of poverty and infectious disease. Part biography, part journalistic saga, the book is a call to action and a striking example of compassionate ambition that stands to inspire service and individual achievement throughout the freshman class at Virginia Tech.

It is a story of persistence and determination and a fascinating firsthand account of the global culture in which we live.

Said one student member of the selection committee, the book is “an opportunity to become more aware of the world. Most college freshmen are aware that conditions in the third-world are deplorable. "Mountains Beyond Mountains," however, is unique in that it shows a real-life example of someone making a difference. It is a perfect book to demonstrate to students the impact they can make on others with their lives."

Assistant Provost Susanna Rinehart said, “Rarely does one story simultaneously encourage reflection on privilege while kindling the fire of intellectual curiosity. "Mountains Beyond Mountains" is a book that speaks to the student in all of us, to the desire to listen, learn, and act. This book is an embodiment of Ut Prosim and Invent the Future."

Faculty interested in using the book in or out of their classes may submit a request for a copy online may e-mail questions to Bonnie Alberts.

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