Common Reading Program

Summer Assignments

Message to New First-Year Students

You will receive a copy of Fire and Forget during your Advising and Registration Day. You are expected to read the book during the summer and bring the book with you to campus in the fall semester.

There will be programming related to the book during New Student Orientation and Husky Kick-off (the first two weeks of school). In addition to programs related to themes of the book and the experience of veterans, over half of new students will use the book in one or more courses.

Below, please find some questions and material to support you in your exploration of the book during your summer reading experience and to help hone your critical reading skills.

“Reading is thinking. It is an active process of identifying important ideas and comparing, evaluating and applying them.” Kathleen McWhorter, Reading Across the Disciplines (2002)

Before you Read: Activate Prior Knowledge

  • Have you or a loved one been involved in the wars in Afghanistan and/or Iraq? How has that involvement affected your life? 
  • Have you served your country in ways other than military service (e.g. community involvement, volunteering)?  How has service shaped your perspectives of the world around you?
  • What do you know about the wars in Afghanistan and/or Iraq? About the overall conflict in the Middle East over the past couple decades?
  • Thousands of military service members are still overseas doing a tour in Afghanistan. What do you think can be done to provide relief for these men and women from the comfort of your own community?

Find Fire and Forget online:

While You Read: Focus on Values and Look for an Interpretation       
  • Mark passages or scenes from the book which you identified with or which challenged you or surprised you.
  • Literature expresses meaning and creates feelings and impressions. Make note of these passages you noticed while you are reading. Think about how you might describe these scenes or talk about them with other students when you arrive on campus.
  • Why is this reading important?

After you Read: Reflect on What you Read

  • Which story moved you the most? Why? What lessons did you take away from Fire and Forget?
  • In what ways has your reading of the stories made you think differently about public service? Military service? An individual’s obligations to his or her community? 
  • In his forward to the collection, Colum McCann notes that all stories are in a sense war stories.  After reading the stories collected here, what do you think he means by that?  What is your war story?

For more questions to guide your reading, visit the Common Reading Program website: