The Common Book


READ@PolyU is delighted to announce the 2023 Common Book, Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. The book is written by Trevor Noah, a world-famous comedian best known for hosting The Daily Show on Comedy Central in the United States.

In this riveting memoir, Noah shares his personal experiences growing up as a mixed-race child in apartheid-era South Africa. Through a series of heartwarming and humorous stories, Noah takes readers on a journey through his struggles with identity, poverty, and violence, while also celebrating the love and resilience that helped him overcome these challenges.


Read with Us!

  • Get a free copy during the annual Book Pick-Up event
  • Borrow the print book from the Library
  • Read the e-book version here

Learn more about the author from the author's website.

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • More than one million copies sold! A “brilliant” (Lupita Nyong’o, Time), “poignant” (Entertainment Weekly), “soul-nourishing” (USA Today) memoir about coming of age during the twilight of apartheid

“Noah’s childhood stories are told with all the hilarity and intellect that characterizes his comedy, while illuminating a dark and brutal period in South Africa’s history that must never be forgotten.”—Esquire

Winner of the Thurber Prize for American Humor and an NAACP Image Award • Named one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, Esquire, Newsday, and Booklist

Common Book Selection Criteria

The selection process with a campus-wide call for nomination in January 2022, and concluded with the final selection by the READ@PolyU Programme Committee in May 2022.

The selection criteria help ensure that the common book will support the programme goal of cultivating a reading culture at PolyU, as well as the University's goals to provide a campus experience that is international and enriching.

  • The book will be in English, preferably less than 300 pages
  • It should be engaging for the PolyU community
  • It should be accessible, not difficult to read
  • It should appeal to students’ imagination, and should include some elements of exploration of and reflection on multi-cultural issues
  • It should preferably have been adapted for film
  • It should preferably have an electronic version
  • It should preferably have won international and critical acclaim
  • Ideally, the author would be available to visit PolyU


Common Books in Previous Years

  • 2011/12 The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • 2012/13 Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom
  • 2013/14 The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins 
  • 2014/15 The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne 
  • 2015/16 The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • 2016/17 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon 
  • 2017/18 The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky 
  • 2018/19 Fifteen Dogs by André Alexis 
  • 2019/20 Persepolis: The Story of Childhood by Marjane Satrapi 
  • 2020/21 Exhalation by Ted Chiang 
  • 2021/22 The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories by Ken Liu
  • 2022/23 First Person Singular: Stories by Haruki Murakami 
  • 2023/24 Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah