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  • Freshman Book Series

    This guide provides resources supporting each year's common read.

    The Freshman Book Series

    The Freshman book is an interesting and stimulating read embedded in the Freshman Experience at the University of the District of Columbia. We invite you to read the book during the semester and participate in robust discussions in and out of the classroom. Explore the themes in your mind. What do you think? What are your opinions? What would you like to ask your new classmates or professors?

    We urge you to approach the Book Series discussions in the spirit of openness and the delight of discovery. This is a unique and valuable opportunity to challenge yourself, share your ideas, learn about different viewpoints and meet and engage in dialogue with your classmates and a university faculty member or other member of the university community. There are no right or wrong answers, diverse viewpoints and perspectives will be encouraged and respected. The more involved you choose to be, the more you will take away from this experience.

    Happy reading!

    Learn more about the program here.

    This Year's Book

    Cover of "I Came as a Shadow" with black and white photo of Coach John Thompson with his arms crossed and signature towel thrown over his shoulderThe Freshman book selected for the Class of 2025 is I Came as a Shadow by John Thompson with Jesse Washington.


    John Thompson was never just a basketball coach and "I Came As A Shadow" is categorically not just a basketball autobiography.

    After five decades at the center of race and sports in America, Thompson—the iconic NCAA champion, Black activist, and educator—was ready to make the private public at last, and he completed this autobiography shortly before his death in the historically tumultuous summer of 2020. Chockful of stories and moving beyond mere stats (three Final Fours, four-time national coach of the year, seven Big East championships, 97 percent graduation rate), Thompson’s book drives us through his childhood under Jim Crow segregation to our current moment of racial reckoning. We experience riding shotgun with Celtics icon Red Auerbach and coaching NBA Hall of Famers like Patrick Ewing and Allen Iverson. What were the origins of the the phrase “Hoya Paranoia”? You’ll see. And parting his veil of secrecy, Thompson brings us into his negotiation with a D.C. drug kingpin in his players’ orbit in the 1980s, as well as behind the scenes of his years on the Nike board.

    Thompson’s mother was a teacher who had to clean houses because of racism in the nation's capital. His father could not read or write. Their son grew up to be a man with his own larger-than-life statue in a building that bears his family’s name on a campus once kept afloat by the selling of 272 enslaved Black people. This is a great American story, and John Thompson’s experience sheds light on many of the issues roiling our nation. In these pages, he proves himself to be the elder statesman whose final words college basketball and the country need to hear.

    ** From the publisher

    Previous Books

    2021-2020: Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah

    2019-2020: THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas

    2018-2019: Barracoon: The Story of the Last ”Black Cargo” by Zora Neal Hurston

    2017-2018: The Other Wes Moore by Wes Moore

    2016-2017: FLAWD: How to Stop Hating on Yourself, Others, and the Things That Make You Who You Are by Emily-Ann Rigal and Jeanne Demers