At the beginning of each school year, UMBC’s New Student Book Experience (NSBE) invites all UMBC freshmen and new transfer students to read a selected book and engage in formal and informal discussion about it.

In anticipation of UMBC’s 50th Anniversary in September 2016, we are looking for a book that will be compelling reading for all audiences and help to provide context for UMBC’s past, present and future.

We are looking for feedback on the five books currently under consideration by the selection committee.


* Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

The landmark personal memoir of a former slave who became one of the most dynamic voices of the abolitionist cause.

211888* Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? by Martin Luther King, Jr.

In Dr. King’s last book, published in 1967, the civil rights leader examines the politics of poverty and race in the United States and lays out directions for change.


* March: Book I and March: Book II by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated and lettered by Nate Powell. 

Congressman and civil rights activist John Lewis retells the story of the 1965 Voting Rights march in Selma, Alabama in the form of a graphic novel.

51EPHbZZV2L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_* Not in my Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City by Antero Pietila

A sweeping and detailed portrait of racism and housing practices in 20th-century Baltimore.

My_Beloved_World_cover* My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor

An acclaimed memoir by United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

The final selection for the 2016 book will be made in September. In the meantime, please leave comments and feedback for the selection committee below. Which book(s) interest you the most? (Enough to participate in an alumni discussion of the book? To attend a lecture with the author or related scholar?) Which do you think would appeal to new UMBC students? Which fit best into the celebration of UMBC’s first 50 years? 

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  1. Not in my Neighborhood or Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? would be great choices. That they are both timely given the current conversations around race in this country and fit in well with our commitment to diversity and furthering those discussions.

  2. I read Not in My Neighborhood in one of my history classes, and I found it highly informative and relevant – really fascinating. I’d love to see the new freshmen read it!

  3. I’m putting in my vote for Not in My Neighborhood. For freshman coming in, whether familiar with Baltimore or not, it’s extremely informative to know the history and context of Baltimore. As our city has been in the national news in the past year, it’s important for incoming freshman to be able to articulate the complex issues of Baltimore successfully.

  4. My goodness, you have selected a powerful set of literature to welcome these fortunate students to urban education! KUTGW. They’re in for an emotionally stirring, socially enlightening journey. I love the selections, and will add Sotomayor to my own required reading.

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