Skip to content

Common Reading Experience

Common Read Keynote Speaker: Thi Bui

Want to meet the author of "The Best We Could Do"? Thi Bui will be at the University Center discussing her book and answering any questions. If you bring a copy of the book you will have a chance to get it signed! Light refreshments will be served.

October 8, 2019


University Center
Room Ballroom

the best we could do book cover

The Best We Could Do

The Best We Could Do, the debut graphic novel by Thi Bui, is an intimate look at one family's journey from their war-torn home in Vietnam to their new lives in America. Exploring the anguish of immigration and the lasting effects that displacement has on a child and her family, Bui documents the story of her family's daring escape after the fall of South Vietnam in the 1970s and the difficulties they faced building new lives for themselves. At the heart of Bui's story is a universal struggle: While adjusting to life as a first-time mother, she ultimately discovers what it means to be a parent—the endless sacrifices, the unnoticed gestures, and the depths of the unspoken love. Despite how impossible it seems to take on the simultaneous roles of both parent and child, Bui pushes through.

For a research guide for "The Best We Could Do," please see the link below.

2019 Common Read Research Guide

Past CSUMB Common Read Selections

the diary of a part-time Indian book cover


Bestselling author Sherman Alexie tells the story of Junior, a budding cartoonist growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation. Determined to take his future into his own hands, Junior leaves his troubled school on the rez to attend an all-white farm town high school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

the distance between us book cover


Reyna Grande vividly brings to life her tumultuous early years in this story of a childhood spent torn between two parents and two countries. Reyna's book is an eye-opening memoir about life before and after illegally emigrating from Mexico to the United States.

when the emperor was divine book


In this lean and devastatingly evocative first novel, Julie Otsuka tells their story from five flawlessly realized points of view and conveys the exact emotional texture of their experience: the thin-walled barracks and barbed-wire fences, the omnipresent fear and loneliness, the unheralded feats of heroism. When the Emperor Was Divine is a work of enormous power that makes a shameful episode of our history as immediate as today's headlines.


(831) 582-4693