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Announcing the 2023-2024 First Year Reading Experience Selection

As part of the 15th Anniversary Celebration, the First Year Reading Experience (FYRE) Program is excited to announce the 2023-2024 book selection.

Ties That Bind: Stories of Love and Gratitude from the First Ten Years of StoryCorps, edited by Dave Isay, has been selected as the common read for the Class of 2027.

The FYRE program began in 2009 as a way for first-year students and the university community to connect around a common intellectual experience.  Since that time, students have engaged in reading and discussing a range of books covering topics from prison reform to feminism, education for girls to race and racism, immigration to autism.  In addition, through the FYRE Program, prominent authors and change agents have visited campus to inspire students as they begin their college journey including Moustafa Bayoumi, Piper Kerman, John Elder Robison, Lanelle Moise, and Lorenzo Santillan among others.

FYRE continues to have a significant impact on the student experience as evidenced by  participant comments, which include: 

  • “The book make me love reading again.It also brought new social justice issues to my attention that I had never thought about before.”
  • “The FYRE books really made an impact on my career choice and how I approach the work that I do.”
  • “After reading them, in a way your surroundings change, you become more open minded and those things you once didn’t pay attention to become things that you see everywhere.”
  • “I thought it helped me gain a new understanding of cultures different from my own.I also think it was a good way to give us an opportunity to connect with each other.”

This year’s selection reflects back on the first FYRE selection from 2009, Listening is an Act of Love. Our 15th book, Ties That Bind, celebrates 10 years of the StoryCorp project, collecting stories which highlight the ways in which individuals come together and build life-changing bonds.  These stories honor those who give us strength, inspire us, and help us navigate life.  Each student comes to Salem State University

Faculty and staff who are interested in getting involved in the FYRE program, by building content into courses or discussing the book, should email

Mathew R Chetnik
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