The AY 2022-23 Common Read Book Selection: The Beauty in Breaking by Michele Harper.

We are pleased to announce that the Common Read selection for Spring 2023 is the memoir The Beauty in Breaking by Dr. Michele Harper, an emergency room physician who has worked in hospitals in the Bronx, Philadelphia, and Trenton, NJ.

Harper’s memoir explores trauma, care, and healing as she recounts her experiences of personal trauma and loss, as well as the stories of the individuals she cares for in multiple hospital settings.

Mirroring the challenges and diversity of the injuries that Harper treats as a physician, her book engages with a myriad of issues including domestic abuse, mental illness, racial injustice, gun violence, sexual assault, and the brokenness of the medical system.  

This text speaks powerfully to our cultural moment. In a time when we continue to endure collective traumas as the result of the pandemic, violence, and racism, Harper’s memoir provides multiple entries for discussing these problems, as well as how to cultivate care and healing as we face them. We invite all faculty from all disciplines to join us: Incorporate this text in your curriculum and participate in the week of Common Read events, in collaboration with the Kupferberg Holocaust Center, during the Spring 2023 semester.

This Common Read selection is an appropriate text across disciplines and student populations at our College, both in credit and non-credit courses.

The Beauty in Breaking is a journey of a thousand judgment calls, including some lighter moments. Each one leads the author to a deeper understanding of herself and the reader to a clearer view of the inequities in our country. (An emergency room is a great equalizer, but only to an extent.) Just as Harper would never show up to examine a patient without her stethoscope, the reader should not open this book without a pen in hand. There are so many powerful beats you’ll want to underline.”  The New York Times

The Beauty in Breaking is aptly titled, as the author/physician beautifully shows there is indeed beauty in the examination of the trauma one has experienced and struggled to overcome. Her storytelling brims with hope while contributing to a broader conversation about diversity and meaningful inclusion in medical training and beyond.”  Intima

“A timely, beautifully written memoir by a master storyteller in Michele Harper, a female, African American ER doctor who explores how she’s used a life of service—especially one within a white, male-dominated world—to not only heal her patients, but also herself.”  Parade

If you have any questions relating to the Common Read, you may contact Meg Tarafdar at or Angela Ridinger-Dotterman at  to discuss possible connections between the text and your class.

Campus Cultural Centers

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Kupferberg Holocaust Center Opens in a new window

The KHC uses the lessons of the Holocaust to educate current and future generations about the ramifications of unbridled prejudice, racism and stereotyping.

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QPAC: Performing Arts CenterOpens in a new window

QPAC is an invaluable entertainment company in this region with a growing national reputation. The arts at QPAC continues to play a vital role in transforming lives and building stronger communities.

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QCC Art Gallery

The QCC Art Gallery of the City University of New York is a vital educational and cultural resource for Queensborough Community College, the Borough of Queens and the surrounding communities.