UMich Engineering College assigns Trevor Noah’s memoir as summer reading

The college used current students’ suggestions to make this year’s selection for summer reading.

Each student will receive a copy of 'Born a Crime,' which the university acknowledges ‘does not contain technical engineering.’

University of Michigan’s College of Engineering used student input to select Trevor Noah’s “Born a Crime” as this year’s summer reading for the incoming first-year cohort. 

The engineering school will provide students with their own copy of the book; international students will receive electronic books, per the university website. 

“Our selection process for the Common Reading Experience book includes the input of current Engineering students who overwhelmingly rated Born a Crime very highly,” the Michigan Engineering website states

Noah, host of the left-leaning “Daily Show,” chronicles his upbringing in apartheid South Africa in the book, which is now text for the 2021 Common Reading Experience. 

The University of Michigan acknowledges on its website that the publication ‘does not contain technical engineering,’ but states that “there are themes of perseverance, growth mindset, and the need to understand the social dimensions and historical contexts of a situation that directly tie into engineering.”

According to a summary of the book provided by the College of Engineering, “Born a Crime tells the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. These interwoven stories are equally the story of Trevor’s fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother–a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that ultimately threatens her own life.”

The College of Engineering is encouraging its students to engage in discussion online about the book, specifically on the school’s Facebook and Twitter

The school is also hosting a contest where students have a chance to win up to $500 by writing an essay on a topic in the book. The topic ideas that the school suggests include “Racism, Apartheid, and the Cycle of Poverty,” “Identity, Belonging, and Community” and “Love and Personal Growth.” The essays are due Friday, October 1, 2021. 

Faculty and staff can also request their own copy of the memoir through a form on the website. 

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Michigan College of Engineering but did not receive a response in time for publication. 

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @opheliejacobson.