The Great Gatsby "tells a good story about memorable -- if not always likeable -- characters, and it does so in evocative and beautiful prose that deftly brings the Jazz Age to life," said Michele Moody-Adams. Reading Fitzgerald's novel, she added, "also provides an opportunity to reflect on the complexity of many defining American ideals, on the ethical and social implications of unchecked materialism, and on the potentially corrosive effects of unregulated desire."
In 2006 nearly 5,000 students from 67 high schools in 18 New York counties and New York City read The Great Gatsby as part of a statewide pilot program coordinated through Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE).
Recognized now as a classic of world literature, Things Fall Apart was written in 1958 and depicts traditional village life in Nigeria during the imposition of British colonial rule in the late Nineteenth Century.
The Trial is Kafka's prescient masterpiece that raises fundamental questions about the nature of justice and the role of the state. New students, alumni and the Ithaca community took part in this year's events including a debate hosted by the local bar association on The Trial.
Antigone is a timeless text. The Tompkins County Public Library and Cornell continued the tradition, the annual town-gown celebration of reading and of having conversations with each other about ideas that began with Frankenstein. In 2003, Tompkins County 10th-grade students were recipients of copies of Antigone and were treated to David Feldshuh's brilliant new translation and adaptation of Antigone performed at Cornell's Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts.
In 2002 Cornell selected Frankenstein, a book that raised important questions on ethics, creativity and the nature of our humanity. Cornell gave over 1,500 free copies of Frankenstein to the Tompkins County Library, to county high schools, to senior citizens centers and to other civic organizations thus beginning the "tradition" of the "town-gown" read.
The Cornell New Student Reading Project began in 2001 with Jared Diamond's Pulitzer-prize winning book, Guns, Germs and Steel. This provocative work explores the differences in rates of development among races, societies and world cultures as a function of geographical and environmental circumstances.