Five semifinalists have been chosen for Shepherd University's Common Reading 2014-15 selection and the public is invited to vote online for the winner.
The semifinalists are "Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong" by Raymond Bonner; "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova; "They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America's Wars: The Untold Story" by Ann Jones; "When the Emperor Was Divine" by Julie Otsuka; and "I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban" by Malala Yousafzai.
Voting takes place online on the Shepherd University homepage and is open until Mar. 31. To vote go to www.shepherd.edu and click on "2014-2015 Common Reading Voting" under "Hot Topics." One vote per person. The winning book will be announced on April 1 and will serve as the Common Reading for the next academic year.
"Anatomy of Injustice" is about a young attorney's battle to save the life of a semiliterate, mentally retarded black man sentenced to death for the murder of an elderly white woman in Greenwood, South Carolina, in 1982. The author shows in a textbook example of what can go wrong in the American justice system.
In "Still Alice" a celebrated Harvard professor and happily married mother of three grown children is diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease and struggles to maintain her lifestyle and live in the moment even as her sense of self is being stripped away. The book captures in remarkable detail what it's like to literally lose your mind.
"They Were Soldiers" is about the unimaginable suffering of the American soldiers wounded and otherwise impaired in the war in Afghanistan. It is a harrowing and compelling tale that is hard to bear but must be borne if we are to understand the disaster this country unleashed in Afghanistan.
In "When the Emperor Was Divine" a woman sees a sign in a post office window, returns to her home, and matter-of-factly begins to pack her family's possessions. Like thousands of other Japanese Americans, they have been reclassified, virtually overnight, as enemy aliens and are about to be uprooted from their home and sent to a dusty internment camp in the Utah desert. The book is a work of enormous power that makes a shameful episode of our history as immediate as today's headlines.
"I Am Malala" is Malala's story about speaking out, refusing to be silenced, and fighting for her right to an education in Swat Valley, Pakistan, when the Taliban took control. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school and few expected her to survive. It is a remarkable tale of a family uprooted by global terrorism, of the fight for girls' education, of a father who, himself a school owner, championed and encouraged his daughter to write and attend school and of brave parents who have a fierce love for their daughter in a society that prizes sons.
All of these books are available at the Scarborough Library and local bookstores.