USD Just Read!

Encouraging Literacy and Deep Dialogue on Social Themes

2019-20 Academic Year

Each year, the USD community selects a USD Just Read! book inspired by a social justice theme. The 2019-20 book of the year is Tales of Two Americas: Stories of Inequality in a Divided Nation, edited by John Freeman to support the social justice theme of the year Defining What is Home? Homelessness, Displacement, and Migration. The CEE organizes Just Read! programming, which is sponsored and created in concert with many collaborators across campus. Faculty are encouraged to use the book in their classes and promote Just Read! events to their students. Programming often includes book discussions, interdisciplinary panels, related films, and keynote speakers. Overall, the program promotes active learning and reading not only within the USD community but within the San Diego community at large. Check below for events, resources, contests and more!

Events & Flyers  Faculty Integration Award Student Essay/Art Contest

Book Summary

America is broken. You don’t need a fistful of statistics to know this. Visit any city, and evidence of our shattered social compact will present itself. From Appalachia to the Rust Belt and down to rural Texas, the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest stretches to unimaginable chasms. Whether the cause of this inequality is systemic injustice, the entrenchment of racism in our culture, the long war on drugs, or immigration policies, it endangers not only the American Dream but our very lives. In Tales of Two Americas, some of the literary world’s most exciting writers look beyond numbers and wages to convey what it feels like to live in this divided nation. Their extraordinarily powerful stories, essays, and poems demonstrate how boundaries break down when experiences are shared, and that in sharing our stories we can help to alleviate a suffering that touches so many people.

About the Editor

Hailed by the LA Times as “A powerful force in the literary world,” 

Image of the editor.

John Freeman is an editor and literary curator of the highest order, writer of astute cultural commentary, intrepid poet, and literary advocate whose voice is passionate and clear.

Freeman’s body of work includes two anthologies of writing by authors addressing todays social fissures of privilege and inequality in America: Tales of Two Americas (2017) and Tales of Two Cities (2015), the latter of which was hailed by Guernica as “a bristling portrayal of New York in the tradition of Jacob Riis.” Freeman’s authored books include How to Read a Novelist (2013)—a collection of 55 deeply informed and closely observed encounters with exceptional novelists, from Haruki Murakami to Edwidge Danticat to Jonathan Franzen—and The Tyranny of E-mail (2011), which considers the consequences of lives spent in an over-stimulated environment of media and communication saturation.

Read a recent interview with John Freeman, written and edited by Ryan Blystone.


This year's program brought to you by these Key Collaborators:

Center for Educational Excellence College of Arts & SciencesCenter for Inclusion and DiversitySchool of BusinessChangemaker HUBSchool of Leadership and Education SciencesShiley-Marcos School of EngineeringJoan B. Kroc School of Peace StudiesMulvaney Center for Community, Awareness and Social Action • University MinistryCenter for Ethics, Economics, and Public Policy •  Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture • Urgent Challenges Collective • Alliance for Disability Advocates


Contact us 

If you are interested in possible programming, course and syllabus integration, or any other collaborative projects for next year.

Tales of Two Americas Thematic Resources:

Online Articles




Classroom Materials