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The Next Chapter is Westminster's summer reading program for all incoming first-year students. The summer reading program is a collaborative effort of the Division of Student Affairs and the Inquiry Program and provides an enjoyable way for students to continue to hone their critical thinking skills during the summer through the exploration for a selected literary work. This summer, entering first year students will be reading People of the Book, a remarkable story of the survival of an ancient text and the people involved in its journey.


After arriving on campus, new students will discuss People of the Book during the Fresh Start Orientation. Across the fall semester, the College will host an array of campus-wide co-curricular activities, such as expert panels and guest speakers, in connection with People of the Book. Elements of the book may also be a topic of discussion in select classes across campus.

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

Geraldine Brooks shares a fictional account of the survival of an ancient text - the Sarajevo Haggadah.  Our main character, Hanna Heath, is an Australian rare book expert who has been asked to conserve the Haggadah.  Brooks elegantly juxtaposes Hanna's present day story with those of the people and places that figure in the book's journey from the past to the present. Brooks is adept at packing many disciplines and big questions into this novel - science, conservation, history, sociology, religion and politics - to name a few.  The richness of each character's circumstance offers the reader many layers with which to connect, making it a perfect fit for our first-year program summer reader!

Comments from Across the Nation

"[A] marvelously intertwined narrative, with one strand tied to the contemporary world and the other leading us back into European history, into wars and inquisitions and family tragedies, all of this making up a vividly narrated, powerfully emotional quest." ---The Dallas Morning News

"Each story is engrossing and deftly woven into the narrative." ----Library Journal

"Intense, gripping new novel.  People of the Book, like her Pulitzer Prize-winning previous novel, March, is a tour de force that delivers a reverberating lesson gleaned from history....It's a brilliant, innately suspenseful structure, and one that allows Brooks to show off her remarkable aptitude for assimilating research and conveying a wide range of settings.  Also on full display is her keen sense of dramatic pacing." ---San Francisco Chronicle

"Enthralling historical mystery...Rich suspense based on a true-life literary puzzle." ---Kirkus Review

A copy of People of the Book will be given to all newly entering students during the New Titan Days. Students who do not attend New Titan Days will have a copy mailed to their home address.  Student who have not received their copy by July 15 should contact Darlene McCoy (724-946-7120, mccoyda@westminster.edu).