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Indiana University Bloomington

Undergraduate Program

Common Read Program

Get involved at Kelley even before day one

Common Read gives you the opportunity to connect with other new students, Kelley faculty, and staff around a topic outside the typical classroom discussions through reading, critical thinking, and personal development.

All business majors can participate in the program. Just read the chosen book during the summer before classes begin. Reading the book is not required, but it is strongly encouraged. Not only will you be able to fully participate in the wide range of events surrounding the book in the fall semester, but you’ll have something in common with your peers and Kelley faculty from the beginning.

Photo of the cover of the book Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Kelley Freshman Class of 2014 Common Read Book Selection


Winner of:

  • The National Book Award
  • The Los Angeles Times Book Award
  • The American Academy of Arts & Letters Award in Literature

Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize

Named one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by:

  • The New York Times Book Review
  • The Washington Post

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by:

  • The New Yorker
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • The Boston Globe
  • The Economist
  • Financial Times
  • Newsweek/The Daily Beast
  • Foreign Policy
Photo from the book Behind the Beautiful Forevers

Book description:

Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. 

Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. But then Abdul is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal. 

With intelligence, humor, and deep insight into what connects human beings to one another in an era of tumultuous change, Behind the Beautiful Forevers carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds, and into the lives of people impossible to forget.

Learn more »

Ready to start reading? 

Great! The first 300 Kelley Direct Admit freshmen who register to participate in the program will get a free copy of the book. You can pick up the book during your Kelley Academic Advising meeting when you are on campus during the summer for IU New Student Orientation.

Everyone else—including other business students, faculty, and staff—is also welcome to participate in the program by purchasing a copy of the book.

Common Read Activities and Events

Dine & Dish
Thursday, August 21 (Welcome Week)
7:30 p.m.
CG 0034 (Kelley Grad Side, basement level)

All incoming freshman business majors are invited to this event happening just after CultureFest during Welcome Week. Meet other new students and enjoy  delicious, locally-prepared Indian food while discussing the book. RSVP online »

Essay Contest
Entries due: Monday, September 15, 2014 by 11:59 p.m. EST
Kelley Direct Admits are invited to read the 2014 Common Read book and write an essay to compete for a $3,500 scholarship for the trip to India with the BUS P256 class! Finalists will also be invited to an exclusive lunch reception with author Katherine Boo.


The author has said elsewhere that while the book brings to light serious injustices, she believes there is also hope on almost every single page: in the imaginations, intelligence and courage of the people she writes about. What are the qualities of a child like Sunil who might flourish in a society that did a better job of recognizing his capacities?


  • Suggested length: Approximately 1,000 words
  • Submission: Word Document or PDF emailed to
  • Submission deadline: September 15, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. EST
  • Only open to Kelley Direct Admit freshmen (Fall 2014)
  • Questions about contest:

Essay should include references from the text and your own ideas. An outstanding essay can be crafted without outside research. In the event you choose to include ideas that are not your own, please cite your sources accordingly. A successful essay will address the prompt using one’s own thoughts, background, and experiences as well as ideas from the book to develop a clear and concise thesis. It will also demonstrate facility of language and a well-developed structure.


  • Top 10 Essays – Lunch with author Katherine Boo
  • Grand prize: $3,500 scholarship to cover the program fee for the India trip associated with the BUS P256 class
    • Guaranteed place in the BUS-P256 course
    • Winner must also enroll in BUS-P256 for the Spring 2015 semester (tuition for this course can be included in the flat fee for up to 18 credit hours—additional credit hours not covered)
  • Winner must earn a 3.0 GPA for the fall 2014 semester to maintain eligibility for the class and trip
  • Must follow all KSB study abroad eligibility requirements
  • Additional trip expenses not included (passport, meals, spending money, vaccinations)

Wealth and Poverty in India
Presented by the Kelley Institute for Social Impact (KISI)
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
Details TBD

Freshman Class Event
Proposals due: Wednesday, October 1, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. EST
Want to plan your own event inspired by Behind the Beautiful Forevers? Submit a proposal and we’ll fund an event for you and your classmates! Download the Event Proposal Form and submit it to by October 1, 2014, at 5:00 p.m. EST.

Photo of Katherine Boo

Katherine Boo, Author of Behind the Beautiful Forevers  
Thursday, October 23
7:00 p.m.  

Alumni Hall, Indiana Memorial Union
The Kelley School of Business, IU School of Media, and the College Arts and Humanities Institute is proud to bring author Katherine Boo to the Bloomington campus. Boo will speak on her experiences writing the book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers.