Three Books program invites new students to think about cities

Selections from the Three Books Program were sent to incoming students earlier this summer.

In late June, Stanford mailed books to more than 1,700 incoming undergraduates for this year’s Three Books program, which serves as an introduction to new students to intellectual life on the Farm through the shared experience of reading, thinking about and discussing the same books.

The packages, sent to first-year and transfer students, were mailed to new students across the United States and to more than 70 other countries around the world. For the signature reading program, now in its 15th year, a professor selects a theme and carefully curates three books exploring that theme from varied perspectives.

This year, Sarah Billington, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, chose “cities” as the theme, specifically the ways cities shape experiences and social relationships.

“Sixty percent of the world’s population is projected to live in cities by 2030, soon after you graduate,” Billington wrote in a letter to incoming students. “How can we design our growing cities to support belonging, an essential component of well-being?”

This year’s books are There There, by Tommy Orange; Silicon City: San Francisco in the Long Shadow of the Valley, by Cary McClelland; and The Just City Essays: 26 visions for Urban Equity, Inclusivity and Opportunity, an e-book that was not included in the package but can be read and downloaded for free from the nonprofit organization

Read more about the Three Books Program in Stanford Report.