Paideia Summer Reading

The Paideia Program is happy to announce the 2023 summer reading, Javier Zamora’s Solito: A Memoir. The entire first-year class plus many faculty, staff, and Decorah community members will share the experience of reading and discussing this powerful book.

Join the Conversation

Courtesy of the Paideia Program, first-year and transfer students will be mailed the book in mid-June. Don’t forget to complete your reading of Solito: A Memoir before you arrive on campus in August!

Summer Reading Guide

Solito: A Memoir is the first reading assignment for Paideia 111. A reading guide will be provided with your book. Use the background and study questions to guide your reading and prepare for class discussions.

Download the 2023 Paideia Summer Reading Guide PDF

About the Book

The book begins this way:

“Trip. My parents started using that word about a year ago—‘one day, you’ll take a trip to be with us. Like an adventure.’”

Javier Zamora’s “adventure” is a 3,000-mile journey from his small town in El Salvador, through Guatemala and Mexico, and across the U.S. border. At nine years old, he leaves behind his beloved aunt and grandparents to reunite with a mother who left four years ago and a father he barely remembers. Traveling alone amid a group of strangers and a “coyote” hired to lead them to safety, Javier expects his trip to last two short weeks. He cannot foresee the perilous boat trips, relentless desert treks, pointed guns, arrests and deceptions that await him, nor can he know that those two weeks will expand into two life-altering months alongside fellow migrants who will come to encircle him like an unexpected family. (This summary is adapted from the Penguin Random House First Year and Common Reading Guide, written by Rachel Zafir.)

About the Author

Photo Credit: Gerardo Dell Valle

Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador in 1990. His father fled the country when he was one, and his mother when he was about to turn five. Both parents’ migrations were caused by the U.S.-funded Salvadoran Civil War. When he was nine Javier migrated through Guatemala, Mexico, and the Sonoran Desert. His debut poetry collection, Unaccompanied, explores the impact of the war and immigration on his family. Zamora has been a Stegner Fellow at Stanford and a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard and holds fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation.

Zamora will be the speaker at the Opening Convocation on Thursday, August 31, 2023.