Common Book Pop-up Distribution at the UCLA Library

Common Book at UCLA library Poster with a picture of the cover of the common book "The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches From the Border"


Pick up your copy of the 2018-19 UCLA Common Book, The Line Becomes a River: Dispatches from the Border by Francisco Cantú, at these UCLA Library locations on the following dates:

In addition, the library has created this research guide to facilitate the incorporation of The Line becomes a River into Teaching and learning across campus, and to support the developemnt and promotion of programs, events and exhibits related to its themes.


The 2018-2019 UCLA Common Book was chosen by a committee comprised of students, staff, and faculty to engage the community in discussions and dialog related to various topics and themes.

Drawn from his experiences working as a border patrol agent along the border of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, Cantú gives a detailed, harrowing, and personal account about his time patrolling the border where he compliantly tracked, found, and detained immigrants who risked their lives to cross the harsh landscapes of the southwest. 

His narrative gives a relevant and contemporary look into the divisive issues surrounding border policy and the impacts it has on various individuals. More importantly, it fosters dialog about the realities of the immigrant experience, as well as those of the agents whose job it is to patrol and uphold border policy.

Cantú's work provides us with a platform that will allow the UCLA community to critically reflect upon relevant issues, topics and themes related to social justice, immigration, the refugee/immigrant experience, nationalism, identity (ethnicity, immigration status), conflict, displacement, and personal struggles while gaining a better understanding of the nature of the sociopolitical and ethnic divide caused by what Cantú, in this work, calls the "unnatural divide" (2018).

Cantú will visit UCLA for a book talk and signing on Tuesday, Feb. 12 from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Northwest Campus Auditorium, followed by a panel discussion on U.S. Immigration Policy on Wednesday, Feb. 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Pauley Pavilion Club. 

Sponsored by UCLA First Year Experience (FYE), the UCLA Common Book program began in 2008 as a way to engage students in conversations around global citizenship and cultural competency. Started as a "think tank" program by Dr. David Gere and Bridget Collier, the first Common Book was piloted with a small community of students in Hedrick Summit. Through year-long programs and seminar-based discussions, students were able to translate themes from the first Common Book, Mountains beyond Mountains by Dr. Tracy Kidder, into positive high-impact actions that improved the UCLA community.

The students' passions and engagements demonstrated the power of literature as a common, unifying experience for people from all walks of life. Since 2008, the Common Book program has expanded its reach to all first year Bruins. Through intellectual and community-building activities inspired by the Common Book, the program continues to provide a platform for students to share a diversity of perspectives, build a community of learners, explore their roles in creating a just society, and identify critical action steps to address the common experience.

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