ECU’s Common Read Program

The ECU Pirate Read orients first-year students to the academic community, prepares students for the college-level environment, allows students to share a common reading experience with fellow classmates, faculty, and staff and enables students and faculty to discuss ideas from the book across the curriculum.

The Pirate Read Committee is pleased to announce the Pirate Read selections for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020 including the dates of campus presentations by the authors. This two-year selection process should allow time to incorporate the texts or selections from the texts in class syllabi for the upcoming years.

2018-2019The Last Ballad

The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash
Campus Presentation Nov. 6, 2018

The New York Times bestselling author of the celebrated A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy returns with this eagerly awaited new novel, set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. The chronicle of an ordinary woman’s struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill, The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice, with the emotional power of Ron Rash’s Serena, Dennis Lehane’s The Given Day, and the unforgettable films Norma Rae and Silkwood.

Intertwining myriad voices, Wiley Cash brings to life the heartbreak and bravery of the now forgotten struggle of the labor movement in early twentieth-century America—and pays tribute to the thousands of heroic women and men who risked their lives to win basic rights for all workers. Lyrical, heartbreaking, and haunting, this eloquent novel confirms Wiley Cash’s place among our nation’s finest writers.

2019-2020The Nature Principle

The Nature Principle by Richard Louv
Campus Presentation, Nov. 5, 2019

“The future will belong to the nature-smart—those individuals, families, businesses, and political leaders who develop a deeper understanding of the transformative power of the natural world and who balance the virtual with the real. The more high-tech we become, the more nature we need.”
—Richard Louv

Our society, says Louv, has developed such an outsized faith in technology that we have yet to fully realize or even adequately study how human capacities are enhanced through the power of nature. Supported by groundbreaking research, anecdotal evidence, and compelling personal stories, Louv shows us how tapping into the restorative powers of the natural world can boost mental acuity and creativity; promote health and wellness; build smarter and more sustainable businesses, communities, and economies; and ultimately strengthen human bonds. As he says in his introduction, The Nature Principle is “about the power of living in nature—not with it, but in it. We are entering the most creative period in history. The twenty-first century will be the century of human restoration in the natural world.”


Activities will be planned for 2018-2019 and 2019-2020. LibGuides will be created and available here. Please refer to this page for more information as it develops. For more information contact Dr. Mary Beth Corbin at

About the Pirate Read

A committee of faculty, staff and students selects the book and coordinates activities with departments within academic and student affairs.

Prior to the start of their first semester at East Carolina University, incoming students are expected to read a common book. The purposes of the summer read program are to:

  • Orient students to the academic community by encouraging intellectual dialogue and critical thinking.
  • Prepare students for the college-level environment.
  • Allow students to share a common reading experience with fellow classmates, faculty, and staff.
  • Enable students and faculty to discuss ideas from the book across the curriculum.

Past Pirate Read Selections

  • 2017 – Evicted (Matthew Desmond)
  • 2016 – Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson)
  • 2015 – Enrique’s Journey (Sonio Nazario)
  • 2014 – The Other Wes Moore (Wes Moore)
  • 2013 – It Happened on the Way to War (Rye Barcott)
  • 2012 – The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks (Rebecca Skloot)
  • 2011 – Picking Cotton (Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton with Erin Torneo)
  • 2010 – The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009 (Edited by Dave Eggers)
  • 2009 – Three Cups of Tea (Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin)
  • 2008 – My Freshman Year (Rebekah Nathan)