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Class of 2013 Freshman Book Provokes Discussion on Mortality

Each year, Loyola Marymount University’s incoming freshman class is assigned a book to read over the summer. The selection for the 2009-2010 year was David Shields’ critically acclaimed book, “The Thing About Life Is That One Day You’ll Be Dead.”


Inspired by the vitality of his 97-year-old father, Shields explores the arc of a human life with scientific data and personal anecdotes featuring his wife, teenage daughter and father.


Kevin Peters, professor of English, chose Shields’ book for its narrative structure, documentary methods and use of evidence to raise probing questions, journalistic mechanisms he hopes will provoke thoughtful discussion among the incoming class.


“The freshman book creates a common intellectual experience,” Peters said. “In practical terms, that means when they unpack and meet their roommate for the first time, they already share a text and probably many opinions about the topic or the book.” 


He added, “This is a provocative book that invites critique and rewards interrogation. I hope students see that, and recognize the same in the many texts that will come into their lives.”


Shields will speak to the LMU community Oct. 29 at noon in Gersten Pavilion, with a book signing and Q&A session immediately following.