Our selection process for the On the Same Page featured text begins in January for the following year. A selection committee made up of four faculty members and one librarian spends the spring term reading widely in search of books or other works that will be a good fit for the program. At the end of spring, each committee member names three or four titles that he or she would like the rest of the committee to consider. Over the summer the committee members read one another's top picks. At the end of summer, the committee meets in person to choose three or four of these titles, which become our finalists. Over the fall term a team of thirty to fifty undergraduates read the finalist texts and submit input electronically. The L&S deans also spend the fall term reading the finalist texts. In December the deans meet, and, taking into consideration all the input from the selection committee and the student reviewers, they choose the text that will be featured in the following year.

The result of this rigorous process in 2017 was the selection of The Handmaid's Tale for the On the Same Page featured text of 2018. It met all of our program's criteria: for instance, it's incredibly well written, thought provoking, and open to interpretation and analysis from many disciplinary standpoints. Its author is someone our students would benefit from encountering, and the book is nearly impossible to put down. Probably most striking to the reviewers was its timeliness. Student reviewers offered comments such as these:

"What a lucid commentary on society, women's rights, and the devolution of politics." (second-year Business and Development Studies major)

"The book is very well written and engaging. Though it describes some dystopian world, the concepts of book are not such a far reach. The book caused me to think more about what could happen with the government in the future. It also caused me to think more deeply about all the freedom that I have now." (third-year Psychology major) 

"This novel is so realistic, so horrifically possible, that I really believe it serves as a wake-up call. It really inspires action and activism to not allow our country to fall under a theocratic tyranny." (second-year intended Nutritional Science major) 

We are incredibly fortunate that Ms. Atwood agreed to participate. Students who attend her keynote event are sure to be inspired by her message, and they will learn first hand that one of the many advantages of attending a university of Berkeley's caliber is the opportunity to encounter authors and other notable figures in person. 

Let the stimulating discussions of this timeless, yet timely, work begin!