Over the past few years, Book in Common selections have taken readers on a journey, from studying distracted driving on the highways to re-enacting a tragic plane crash in the Alaskan wilderness and exploring what it means to be anti-racist. This year, the trip will take readers from Vietnam to the United States through an illustrated memoir. This is the first time that such a format has been chosen for this shared reading.
The book in common for the 2022-2023 academic year is “The Best We Could Do” by Thi Bui, a 2017 illustrated memoir about the author’s family’s journey from Vietnam to the United States, his new life in United States and universal struggles. to connect with family, culture and identity.
Book in Common committee chair Laura Nice said one of the reasons Bui’s book – the author’s first – was selected was its relevance and timeliness.
“Butte County is home to several thousand refugees from the Vietnam War, primarily but not exclusively Hmong refugees,” she said. “This selection confirms the University’s commitment to knowing our communities and the wounds caused by war and migration.”
At the heart of Bui’s story is an exploration of adjusting to life as a first-time mother and ultimately discovering what it means to be a parent – the endless sacrifices, unnoticed gestures and depths of unspoken love. Although it seems impossible to assume the simultaneous roles of parent and child, Bui succeeds. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.
“We believe this book will be deeply engaging for students and for the entire Butte County campus and community,” Nice said. “In particular, the illustrated memoir format provides opportunities to interact in new ways, and Bui’s story of her family’s diaspora and immigration experience is both extremely specific and also relatable. “
“The Best We Could Do” was recognized as a finalist in the 2017 National Book Critics Circle, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Spring 2017 Selection, and ALA 2018 Notable Books Selection.
Chico State President Gayle Hutchinson notes that “The Best We Could Do” is closely tied to the University’s mission, especially as it directly relates to the strategic priority of equity, diversity and of inclusion by centering Asian American experiences.
“In what will be the second full year of the Ethnic Studies requirement, this book will provide a rich anchor for important conversations on our campus,” she said. “In addition to the focus on Asian American history and experiences, this book gives us the opportunity to focus on broader immigration issues and stories, a very current and important topic in California.”
The Book in Common is a shared community reading designed to promote discussion and understanding of important issues. It is chosen annually by a panel of faculty and staff from Chico State and Butte College, as well as members of the local community. As in previous years, Butte College, Chico State, City of Chico and Butte County will sponsor roundtables, lectures and other public events to celebrate and promote the book together.
For more information and details on events as they are scheduled, visit www.csuchico.edu/bic.