Common Book Initiative

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As part of the University of Chicago’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, the UChicago Common Book Initiative strives to enhance campus climate and build community through a shared experience, bringing together undergraduate students, graduate/professional students, faculty, staff, alumni and local community members to read the same book and engage in dialogues across campus. Such experiences foster full participation of community members and encourage understanding diverse perspectives and experiences within UChicago. The Common Book aims to:

  • Foster a sense of community by providing a common reading experience.
  • Examine current events and highlight diversity of lived experiences through discussions of the book and the major topics it addresses.
  • Engage all members of the campus community through a variety of academic and social programming.

UChicago Common Book 2018

Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do

“An intimate and poignant graphic novel portraying one family’s journey from war-torn Vietnam," from debut author Thi Bui.

This beautifully illustrated and emotional story is an evocative memoir about the search for a better future and a longing for the past. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family’s daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s, and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves.

At the heart of Bui’s story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through. With haunting, poetic writing and breathtaking art, she examines the strength of family, the importance of identity, and the meaning of home.

In what Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Viet Thanh Nguyen calls “a book to break your heart and heal it,” The Best We Could Do brings to life Thi Bui’s journey of understanding, and provides inspiration to all of those who search for a better future while longing for a simpler past.”

Book description adapted from Abrams Books. More information and press reviews of Bui’s The Best We Could Do are available here.

Library Digital Access to the Book is available here.

Launch Event

Please join us for the inaugural launch event on Wednesday, November 28 in the Reynolds Club - McCormick Tribune Lounge from 4:00-5:30pm. 

Campus Discussion Events

Starting in Winter 2019, the Common Book Initiative will be hosting campus and small discussions on main themes of The Best We Could Do. Be on the look out for these announcements and schedule on this page.