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Mishna Wolff’s book featured at Common Reader talks

“I’m Down,” a memoir about identity and belonging by author and comic Mishna Wolff, is this year’s Common Reader book for all Colorado Mountain College campuses and communities.
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This year’s Common Reader selection, “I’m Down” by Mishna Wolff, is a frank and funny memoir that offers solace, humor and a swift kick in the pants to anyone who has ever wallowed in the angst of being an outsider. And who hasn’t?

“The human mind tends to divide and compartmentalize. It’s the stupidest sorting machine ever,” said Wolff. “We have the idea we can tell just by looking at somebody if we have anything in common. And we couldn’t be more wrong.”

This month, Colorado Mountain College invites readers to pick up a copy of Wolff’s book, step across the divide and come together at any of seven Common Reader talks throughout the CMC district. Students, faculty and members of the community are welcome to participate, as well as to join in the art and writing contest associated with the event.



Author Wolff grew up in a poor African-American neighborhood, attending black schools and churches with kids “much cooler” than she was. Try as she might to be “down,” her whiteness marked her as privileged. When, at her mother’s insistence, she transferred to an elite white school for gifted kids, she was seen by her new peers as the poor girl in the cheap, thrift-store track suit.

No matter where she went, Wolff felt like she didn’t belong. To cope with a sense of constant displacement, she grew a thick hide and a barbed tongue, relying on searing wit, sarcastic banter and sheer grit to blaze a trail through middle school and beyond.



“At a pretty young age, I wanted to be a joke writer,” Wolff said, explaining that humor offered a way to stand up to teasing, and to lighten the mood if tension was brewing.

The readings

Wolff’s public readings from “I’m Down” mark the college’s seventh annual Common Reader. The author will share excerpts and answer questions about her book in Edwards (Oct. 21), Leadville (Oct. 22), Breckenridge (Oct. 23), Steamboat Springs (Oct. 24), Rifle (Oct. 25), Aspen (Oct. 28) and Glenwood Springs-Spring Valley (Oct. 28).

Though the talks are free, there is a suggested donation of $5 per ticket with proceeds benefiting the college’s No Barriers Fund, which assists students in need. The book is available at local libraries and bookstores.

All talks will take place at 7 p.m., except for Aspen’s, which will be held at 10 a.m.

More information is available at http://www.coloradomtn.edu/commonreader or by calling the college at 800-621-8559. Learn more about the author at http://www.mishnawolff.com.


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