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2018 Common Read: "Educated: A Memoir"

The University of Idaho has chosen “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover as its Common Read for 2018-2019.

“The students and faculty members on our Common Read committee were gripped by Ms. Westover’s memoir and her journey to become self-educated and informed.” said Dean Panttaja, U of I’s director of General Education.  “The premise of this book and its lessons about our individual will and strength to achieve against all odds are inspiring.” 

The book describes Ms. Westover’s journey as the child of Idaho survivalists who would not to be denied an education to the point where, self-educated, she was accepted to Brigham Young University, Cambridge and Harvard.  "This memoir is a dazzling example of what you can achieve if you set your mind to something . . . an inspirational, truly unique coming-of-age tale." BBC – Books Look Ahead 2018

The Common Read is supported by the Judith Runstad Lecture Series, which annually sponsors a keynote address by the book’s author or someone closely associated with the book. Westover will give her address at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 10, in the International Ballroom of the Bruce M. Pitman Center. 

Now in its 11th year, the Common Read is designed to engage the university and Moscow community in a unified intellectual activity, Panttaja said. First-year students will be assigned to read the book as part of their Integrated Seminar (ISEM) 101 course, part of U of I’s innovative General Education program. ISEM instructors introduce students to methods of inquiry in the humanities and social sciences through more than two dozen topics.

“It introduces first-year students to academic expectations, respectful discourse and community building,” Panttaja said. 

Other recent Common Reads and Runstad lecturers have been Anthony Doerr, author of “All the Light We Cannot See” in 2015; Sy Montgomery, author of “The Soul of an Octopus” in 2016, and “Mistakes Were Made (but Not by Me)” by Carol Tavris in 2017.  

Tara Westover is an American author living in the United Kingdom. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her father's junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. After that first encounter with education, she pursued learning for a decade, graduating magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and subsequently winning a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.

Copies of “Educated” are available through the VandalStore and BookPeople of Moscow.

"Educated: a Memoir" book cover with pencil illustration
Cover: "Educated: A Memoir"
Author Tara Westover
Author Tara Westover (Photo by Paul Stuart)


The Common Read is a program designed to engage the university and Moscow community, its students, staff, faculty and community members, in a unified intellectual activity. For first-year students it introduces them to academic expectations, respectful discourse, and community building. The Common Read is supported by the Judith M. Runstad Lecture Series, which sponsors a keynote address by the author of the Common Read, or someone closely associated with the book. First-year students will be asked to read the book as part of their ISEM 101 Integrated Seminar requirements. The Common Read book is available through the U of I VandalStore.

This is a program sponsored through the General Education program, supported by the Office of Student Affairs, and a host of faculty, staff and student members on the Common Read Committee.

General Education

Physical Address:
Administration Building 104

Mailing Address:
University of Idaho
111 Perimeter Drive MS 3154
Moscow, ID 11111-3154

Phone: 111-111-9025

Email: [email protected]

Web: General Education

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