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Three Books Archive

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Previous Program Selections

The Three Books program is made possible by the generosity of The Lamsam-Sagan Family Endowed Fund for Undergraduate Education. Over the years, students have been introduced to many themes and authors through this thriving program.

About Three Books


  • How to Do Nothing by Jenny Odell
  • System Error: Where Big Tech Went Wrong and How We Can Reboot, by Stanford professors Rob Reich, Mehran Sahami, and Jeremy Weinstein
  • Navalny, a documentary directed by Daniel Roher

2022: Biodiversity with Liz Hadly, Professor of Environmental Biology and Earth System Science

  • Animal, Directed by Cyril Dion
  • An Immense World: How Animal Senses Reveal the Hidden Realms Around Us, by Ed Yong
  • Why Fish Don't Exist: A Story of Loss, Love, and the Hidden Order of Life, by Lulu Miller

2021: Perspective, Empathy, and Hope with Shashank Joshi, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

  • Notes From the Field: Doing Time in Education by Anna Deavere Smith
  • Know My Name: A Memoir by Chanel Miller
  • Educated by Tara Westover
  • TED Talk, Danger of a Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • NPR's Hidden Brain Series, Empathy Gym featuring Jamil Zaki

2020: Education & Character (virtual)

  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • Grit by Angela Duckworth
  • Selected Readings on Race, Class, and Education by multiple authors

2019: Cities with Sarah Billington, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • Silicon City: San Francisco in the Long Shadow of the Valley by Cary McClelland
  • There There by Tommy Orange
  • The Just City Essays: 26 Visions for Urban Equity, Inclusion and Opportunity by multiple authors, edited by Toni L Griffin, Ariella Cohen, David Maddox

2018: Globality & Migration with José David Saldívar, Professor of Comparative Literature

  • Brother, I'm Dying by Edwidge Danticat
  • Native Speaker by Chang-rae Lee
  • Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera

2017: Sustainability & Equity with Noah Diffenbaugh, Professor of Earth System Science

  • Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward
  • The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

2016: Crisis & Connection with Elizabeth Tallent, Professor of English

  • A Paradise Built in Hell by Rebecca Solnit
  • We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
  • We the Animals by Justin Torres

2015: Resilience with John Hennessy, President of Stanford University

  • Cane River by Lalita Tademy
  • The Innovators by Walter Isaacson
  • This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff

2014: Science with Persis Drell, Dean of the School of Engineering and Professor of Physics

  • My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki
  • Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines by Richard A. Muller
  • Radioactive: Marie & Pierre Curie: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss

2013: Home with Nicholas Jenkins, Associate Professor of English

  • First They Killed My Father by Loung Ung
  • The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
  • The Outsourced Self by Arlie Russell Hochschild

2012: What is Art? with Mark Applebaum, Associate Professor of Music

  • My Kid Could Paint That video by Michael Kimmelman
  • Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural Nörth Daköta by Chuck Klosterman
  • Smule app by Ge Wang

2011: Ethical Dilemmas in War and Peace with Scott Sagan, Professor of Political Science

  • March by Geraldine Brooks
  • One Bullet Away: The Making of a Marine Officer by Nathaniel Fick
  • The Violence of Peace: America’s Wars in the Age of Obama by Stephen Carter

2010: Social Inequities with Debra Satz, Professor of Philosophy

  • Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman
  • The Undesirable Table (From the collection Will You Always Love Me?) by Joyce Carol Oates

2009: Past & Present with Harry Elam, Professor of Drama, & Michele Elam, Professor of English and Program in African and African American Studies

  • Hunger by Lan Samantha Chang
  • My Own Country: A Doctor’s Story by Abraham Verghese
  • Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell

2008: Youth & Self-Identity with Andrea Lunsford, Professor of English

  • Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer
  • One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry
  • The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

2007 with Kenneth Fields, Professor of English

  • Good Woman by Lucille Clifton
  • Jealous Hearted Me by Nancy Packer
  • The Way to Rainy Mountain by N. Scott Momaday

2006 with Tobias Wolff, Ward W. and Priscilla B. Woods Professor of English

  • How to Breathe Underwater by Julie Orringer
  • Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

2005 with Hazel Markus, Professor of Behavioral Sciences

  • Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
  • M. Butterfly by David Henry Hwang
  • Old School by Tobias Wolff

2004 with Steven J. Zipperstein, Faculty Director of Undergraduate Advising

  • Brown by Richard Rodriguez
  • Caucasia by Danzy Senna
  • Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides