Common Reading features 'The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter'

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter
Credit: Penn State

READING, Pa. — Students beginning their studies at Penn State Berks received their first homework assignment well before the first day of classes. The assignment, part of the college’s Common Reading Program, was to read "The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter — and How To Make the Most of Them Now" by Meg Jay.

The idea behind the Common Reading Program is to not only foster a love of reading, but also to build a greater sense of community and for incoming students by creating shared experiences with classmates. When most students enter college, they generally do not know many people and feel disconnected. For the last 13 years, Penn State Berks has tried to remedy that feeling with its Common Reading Program.

The selected reading is introduced to incoming first-year students during New Student Orientation and has been integrated into the First-Year Seminar courses. Several other areas of the college community have joined in this initiative by basing the orientation program, residence life activities, lecture series, and service opportunities on the book selection. In addition, the college will hold a variety of events in support of the Common Reading Program for students during the week of Oct. 15.

The book is described as follows on "Our ‘thirty-is-the-new-twenty’ culture tells us that the twentysomething years don’t matter. Some say they are an extended adolescence. Others call them an emerging adulthood. But thirty is not the new twenty. Dr. Meg Jay, a clinical psychologist, argues that twentysomethings have been caught in a swirl of hype and misinformation, much of which has trivialized what is actually the most transformative period in our adult lives.

"Drawing on more than ten years of work with hundreds of twentysomething clients and students, 'The Defining Decade' weaves the latest science of these years with behind-closed-doors stories from twentysomethings themselves. The result is a provocative read that provides the tools necessary to make the most of your twenties, and shows how hard work, relationships, personality, social networks, identity, and even the brain can change more during this decade than any other time in adulthood — if we use this time wisely."

Jay is a clinical psychologist and a narrative nonfiction writer. In her books, she weaves the latest research with behind-closed-doors stories of real people. Her books reveal the complex realities that lie behind stereotypes and misconceptions about development, changing how we think about topics such as whether our 20s matter and how resilience works and feels.

For more information on the Penn State Berks Common Reading Program, contact Tara Beecham, lecturer in writing and coordinator of the Common Reading Program, at [email protected] or 610-396-6409.