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Three Books inspired by opening of Bing Concert Hall


While its title may suggest otherwise, this year’s “Three Books” program will only include one physical book.

The Office of Undergraduate Advising and Research announced the three texts chosen for the program on Tuesday. The selections, provided by courtesy to all incoming members of the Class of 2016, include the DVD documentary “My Kid Could Paint That” by New York Times critic Michael Kimmelman, the smartphone application “Smule” by Stanford Assistant Professor of Music Ge Wang and “Fargo Rock City: A Heavy Metal Odyssey in Rural North Dakota,” a memoir written by Chuck Klosterman.

Incoming freshmen will receive the DVD and memoir by mail in July, and will be able to download the smartphone app when they arrive on-campus.

Mark Applebaum, associate professor of music, is responsible for this year’s unconventional picks. In a University press release, Applebaum said his selections were inspired by the opening of the Bing Concert Hall, which is set to open its doors in January. Applebaum said he hopes the texts will inspire students “to ask broader questions about where art is made, what art is important and who should decide.”

“In selecting these ‘texts,’ Professor Applebaum hopes the diversity of formats encourages students to think about how ideas are expressed differently by the written word, in filmic presentation, through music, or by using contemporary social media,” said Julie Lythcott-Haims ’89, dean of Freshman and Undergraduate Advising, in the University press release. Lythcott-Haims pioneered the Three Books program, now in its ninth year.

This will be the first year that non-printed texts have been selected. Past picks have included Junot Diaz’s “The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao” in 2008, Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” in 2009 and Geraldine Brooks’ “March” in 2011.

The authors of the three texts will participate in a panel discussion at the conclusion of New Student Orientation. This year’s discussion, moderated by Applebaum, will take place on Sept. 23 in Memorial Auditorium. A live telecast of the event in Pigott Theater will be open to the broader Stanford community.

— Kurt Chirbas

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