The Common Reading Program at Appalachian State is pleased to announce the 2017-18 book selection:  One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.  One Amazing Thing is a fictional story about nine people from different backgrounds who become trapped together by an earthquake for days, using storytelling to help them survive while they hope and pray for rescue.  The book offers lessons for bridging cultural and ethnic diversity through storytelling, prompts discussions about prejudice, cultural misunderstanding, alienation, and interpersonal communication, and offers inspiration for overcoming life’s obstacles.

Prof. Martha McCaughey, Director of the Common Reading Program, said that “We are enthused about the ways this book will engage the incoming first-year students,” each of whom will receive a copy of the book during their summer orientation visit. 

Appalachian will welcome the author to campus on Monday, August 21, 2017, when she will give an address at Black & Gold Convocation and appear at other events throughout the day, including a reading and book signing.

Throughout the academic year, McCaughey said, students will remain engaged with the book’s themes in their First Year Seminar classes and through programming around the book, which will include an art exhibition and a live storytelling event, in which students will be encouraged to share stories of “one amazing thing” from their own lives. 

Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni is an award-winning and bestselling author, poet, activist, and teacher of writing.  Her stories explore women, immigration, history, myth, magical realism, and diversity.  Her work has been published in over 50 magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and The New Yorker, and her writing has been included in over 50 anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories, the O. Henry Prize Stories and the Pushcart Prize Anthology.  Her books have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Bengali, Russian and Japanese, and many of them have been used for campus-wide and city-wide reads. Several of her works have been made into films and plays.  She lives in Houston with her husband Murthy and has two sons, Anand and Abhay, who are in college.  Divakaruni teaches creative writing at the University of Houston and she blogs at <>.

Over the next few months, Appalachian faculty and members of the Common Reading Committee will be assembling teaching aids and supplemental materials for Welcome Week book-discussion leaders and First Year Seminar instructors.

If you are university faculty or staff, and you would like to lead a book discussion with new students during Welcome Weekend on Saturday, August 19, 2017, please contact the Common Reading Program Director, Dr. Martha McCaughey, at mccaugheym@appstate.eduno later than May 1, 2017. Convocation will be held on Monday, August 21 at 10:00am, and it will feature a talk by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.

Later that day, students, staff, faculty, and members of the general public may attend two other events featuring the book's author:

2:45pm Aug 21 - Faculty Panel Discussion - Blue Ridge Ballroom, Student Union

    Faculty Panelists Discussing One Amazing Thing with the author and audience:

Ray Christian, First Year Seminar, University College

Sushmita Chatterjee, Gender, Women's, & Sexuality Studies, College of Arts & Sciences
Chris Osmond, Leadership & Educational Studies, Reich College of Education 

4:30pm Aug 21 - Reading, Q&A, and Book Signing with Chitra Divakaruni - Blue Ridge Ballroom, Student Union

       You may bring your book for the author to sign and/or purchase one at this event. 


If you would like additional information about the book or its author, or, if you have other questions please contact:

Dr. Martha McCaughey
Director, Appalachian Common Reading Program
Professor of Sociology and Faculty Coordinator for the First Year Experience
250 Anne Belk Hall, ASU
Boone, NC  28608
Phone: 828-262-2028

One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni


Since 1997, incoming freshmen at ASU have been asked to read a book as part of their orientation to Appalachian. By participating in the Common Reading Program, students establish a common experience with other new students that will help develop a sense of community with their new environment and introduce them to a part of the academic life they are beginning at Appalachian. This program is an exciting facet in Appalachian's orientation of new students to life on our campus.