What is ‘Mason Reading’ this Fall?

WP Mason Reads

Has your freshman student attended orientation this summer? If so, your student received the book A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest Gaines. But why?

In 2013, George Mason started a common read program titled Mason Reads. This program includes receiving a book at orientation and engaging with faculty and peers throughout the semester which helps build a stronger campus community. The author is invited to campus to speak and student share a “common” experience around the themes of the book.

A Lesson Before Dying is set in 1940s Louisiana and spotlights a friendship between two African-American men; one educated schoolteacher and the other a death row inmate. Themes of racism, dignity, well-being, education, and justice are explored. Students will engage in programming around the text and its themes at The Preamble, Welcome Week, and throughout the fall. Ernest Gaines will be speaking as part of Fall for the Book on September 28 in Eagle Bank Arena. All students and families are invited to attend.

Additionally, students will have the opportunity to interact with this text in a variety of courses. Faculty in the English department, Communication department, African-American Studies department, Honors College, New Century College, University 100, and Students as Scholars program will be incorporating it into the curriculum in various ways.

Your student should read the book over the summer and bring the book to campus in the fall. On the first day of classes, August 31, we will host a Meet ‘n’ Munch discussion from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. in the Hub Ballroom for all freshmen. Students will be paired with a faculty member, student leaders, and their peers to talk about the book and what it means for their lives. Lunch will be provided.

If you have any questions, visit the Mason Reads website at or contact Emilie Dubert at

Emilie Dubert
Associate Director
Off Campus Student Programs and Services