This year, Temple’s incoming freshmen had one more item on their lists of things to do before starting school: required reading.
Fast Food Nation, a New York Times bestseller that examines the inner workings of the fast food industry, was selected for the assignment.
The book’s author, Eric Schlosser, visited Temple last week to discuss the book with students in Anderson Hall.
Schlosser admits that being on a college campus as a speaker is a new role for him.
“This is my first book,” Schlosser said, “It wasn’t easy to publish it and it wasn’t clear that it was going to be a success, either.
So, the idea of it being assigned as required reading at a university is amazing.”
“I’ve been to eight or nine colleges,” he said. “The exchanges with people are real interesting to me.
There hasn’t been one school yet that I’ve visited that I haven’t found an interesting and rewarding experience.”
All freshmen that registered for a fall learning community or freshman seminar were asked to read the book over the summer.
Most of the students involved in the program were from Temple’s main campus. Students were notified of the required reading by mail and at their freshman orientations.
A group of teachers, faculty, advisors and members of the first year writing program made book suggestions and researched bestseller lists and the Chronicle of Higher Education – a publication that lists what is being read on college campuses.
Several books were chosen and after a final reading by members of the group, Fast Food Nation was chosen.
“We wanted to send a message to the entering class that we value reading, intellectual conversation and healthy debate on important issues,” said Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Jodi Levine Laufgraben.
“We were looking for a book that students might not have already read. We wanted something that was different from what’s already covered in our core and could introduce new perspectives to them.”
Fast Food Nation makes students think about what you eat and where you eat, Laufgraben says.
The book examines the growth of the fast food industry and provides an in depth look at the impact of fast food on the culture and landscape of America.
“I thought it was going to be like [Upton Sinclair’s] The Jungle,” said freshman Jenn Cooper.
“But it was different than what I thought. I liked reading it. It wasn’t a big deal to me because I normally read over the summer.”
“Many freshman students have reacted positively to the book,” Laufgraben said.
“Most have said this book uncovers some important stuff,” she continued.
“It’s very interdisciplinary and hits on many themes in their academic and personal lives.”
Freshman Allan Quiling said, “The book helped me change my eating habits and think about what I eat. I really liked it.”
Laufgraben says that with the success of this year’s program a formal committee will be made to make the program an annual event.
Students interested in becoming a part of next summer’s book selection committee should visit the Academic Resource Center in room 113 of Curtis Hall.
Chris Powell can be reached at TUJournalist@hotmail.com