It’s an annual tradition at Boston College that members of the freshman class are invited — though not required — to read the same book, at the start of the academic year, as a “shared experience.” A different book is chosen each year, and this year, it’s Bruce Springsteen’s 2016 autobiography, “Born to Run.”
Springsteen — whose son Evan graduated from BC in 2012 — had been planning to go there this week, to deliver a convocation address. But due to the pandemic, this has been changed to an online event, and it will take place Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. Freshmen will be invited to participate via Zoom, but a live stream will also be viewable by others on this page of the college’s web site and on YouTube. (I will embed the YouTube stream below for those who would like to watch here.)
(Sept. 10 Update: Here is a transcript of the speech.)
The university (BC is a college in name only) also offers, here, a “Born to Run” reading guide, which includes the following explanation of why the book was chosen:
“In this book, Bruce Springsteen shares his story — the meaningful events and the transformation he has experienced on his journey — and how his reflection on these experiences has impacted his engagement with the world around him. As you read ‘Born to Run it is the hope of the University that it inspires you to reflect on your own story — the meaningful events and the transformation you have experienced and will continue to experience during your time at Boston College — and understand how your own personal narrative enables you to encounter God’s presence in the world. In reading Springsteen’s reflections on truth, identity, and love, you will be invited to consider your own values and encouraged to think about how you respond to life’s questions.”
While it is unusual for Boston College to spotlight a work by a rock musician in this way, it is not unusual for one of these selections to be a memoir by a contemporary figure. Recent selections have included Chris Wilson’s “The Master Plan: My Journey From Life in Prison to a Life of Purpose,” Bill Burnett and Dave Evans’ “Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life,” Lev Golinkin’s “A Backpack, a Bear, and Eight Crates of Vodka” and Steve Pemberton’s “A Chance in the World: An Orphan Boy, a Mysterious Past, and How He Found a Place Called Home.”
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