Skip to First-Year Seminar site navigationSkip to main content

Virtual Tour

Ramapo College has a summer reading program that is academically linked to the First-Year Seminar (FYS) course. Students read the book over the summer and come to campus prepared to discuss the book with their FYS classmates. They will also be assigned an essay question in their FYS class based on the book that asks students to exercise their critical thinking skills, their reasoning and analytical thinking skills, and their writing and communication skills.

The book is selected by a committee composed of first-year students, faculty, and staff from the Ramapo College community. Committee members use selection criteria to ensure that the book that is chosen will:

  • Elicit rich discussions among first-year students in their first-year seminar classes
  • Have a subject that is current, thought-provoking, and relevant to first-year students
  • Have an author who is an engaging speaker
  • Have style and content accessible to all students

The 2019 FYS Summer Reading Book

The 2019 summer read is The Rent Collector by novelist Camron Wright. Camron Wright will visit Ramapo College on September 3rd, 2019 to speak to members of the Class of 2023 and to returning members of the Ramapo College community at the Opening Convocation.

Ramapo College Celebrates Good Writing!

You are currently reading The Rent Collector. Now kick off your first year at Ramapo College with some reflection, a shot at a $200 prize, and lunch with author Camron Wright. (Up to three winning entries will be selected.)

Essay Question

One of the important themes in The Rent Collector concerns the power of literacy, of stories. Reflect on how a particular work of literature has affected your life using a definition of literature consonant with The Rent Collector.


Throughout The Rent Collector Sang Ly uses the stories Sopeap shares with her to think about her own life. For instance, in Chapter 14 she considers her husband’s desire for vengeance against the gang that attacked and severely injured him through the lens of Moby Dick. Choose one other story that appears in the book and examine how Sang Ly sees her life reflected in it as well as how you see the lives of characters in The Rent Collector reflected through the story you choose.

Contest parameters:

  1. Make sure to reference the summer reading in your essay. You may use supporting evidence from other sources, but your primary source should be The Rent Collector.
  2. Please consider the context of critical thinking when writing your essay.
  3. Essays will be judged based on use of text, effectiveness of reflection, and use of supporting evidence.
  4. Please limit your response to 1000 words to help us ensure that all submissions receive fair evaluation.
  5. All work must be your original contribution.
  6. All essays must be received by August 16th, 2019 at 5:00 PM. The three winning essays will be announced at the Opening Convocation on September 3rd, 2019.
  7. Entries must be submitted to Prof. Yvette Kisor, Director of First-Year Seminar, by attaching your essay to an e-mail message and sending it to this address:
  8. Please send your essay as a Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF file. You will receive an email acknowledgement of your submission.

Good luck!

Class of 2022 Essay Contest Winners:

Gabriela Buniowska, Khalisah Hameed, and Taisei Miles

Past essay winners:

Class of 2021: Ashley Francis, Jessica Ryan, and Lauren Storch
Class of 2020: Natalie Dahl, Gunnar Hopson, and Rachel Loia
Class of 2019: Jose Carrillo, Amie Wuchter, and Scott Yunker, Jr.
Class of 2018: John Distefano, Victoria Tommasulo, and Matthew Earl
Class of 2017: Nathaniel Birrer, Emily Aurora Boyle, and Josephine Han
Class of 2016: Steven Bunin, Jennifer Paldino, and Max Zerbian
Class of 2015: Melanie Ciandella, Thomas Colella, and Jonathan Mangel

Suggest a Book for the Next Summer Read

If you’ve read a book that you believe is a “must-read” for new students, please click on the button below and let us know! We’re always open to good suggestions.

Summer Read Suggestion Form

Previous Summer Reads

  • Fall 2018: The Leavers: A Novel by Lisa Ko
  • Fall 2017: So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed by Jon Ronson
  • Fall 2016: Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
  • Fall 2015: Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free by Héctor Tobar
  • Fall 2014: Enrique’s Journey: The Story of a Boy’s Dangerous Odyssey To Reunite with his Mother by Sonia Nazario
  • Fall 2013: Digital Vertigo: How Today’s Online Social Revolution Is Dividing, Diminishing, and Disorienting Us by Andrew Keen
  • Fall 2012: American Nerd: The Story of My People by Benjamin Nugent
  • Fall 2011: Lies my Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong
    by James Loewen
  • Fall 2010: Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder
  • Fall 2009: The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch and Jeffrey Zaslow
  • Fall 2008: The Canon: A Whirligig Tour of the Beautiful Basics of Science by Natalie Angier
  • Fall 2007: A Long Way Gone by Ishmael Beah
  • Fall 2006: Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser
  • Fall 2005: Reading Lolita in Teheran by Azar Nafisi
  • Fall 2004: One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn