"Only when you accept that one day you'll die, can you let go and make the best out of life," wrote Brazillian twins Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, the authors and illustrators of 2014's Life of the Mind Selection, "Daytripper."
Before setting foot into their first classroom, incoming freshman were asked to read the graphic novel as a part of UT's 2014 First Year Studies program. Students met Aug. 18 for a special event in Thompson Boling Arena where they were treated to the authors' own perspective and analysis of the graphic novel. Dating back to 1972, First Year Studies was created as a means to insure the successful transition into college life for all incoming freshman of the university.
The graphic novel was the No. 1 seller on the New York Times Paperback Graphic Books chart in 2011. Published by the DC Comics imprint Vertigo, the work is notable for being both the first Brazilian selection as well as the first graphic novel chosen as the official Life of the Mind book.
The graphic novel follows the tumultuous life of Bras De Olivias Dominguez as he experiences death at various turning points in his life. Rather than ending the novel, the numerous deaths of the protagonist serve to accentuate the frailty of life, as the reader is continually reminded of the importance of living without regret in an uncertain world.
For freshman accounting major Cameron DeJean, reading "Daytripper" was a positive way to start off the school year.
"Each chapter was like a section of his life," DeJean said, comparing his freshman year to a new section of his own life.
Additionally, DeJean found the graphic novel medium "easier to read" than traditional literature, as the illustrations helped form "mental images" which helped to understand the plot.
First Year Studies Director Jason Mastrogiovanni and Assistant Provost for Student Success Dr. Ruth Darling co-chaired the Life of the Mind book selection for 2014. In selecting the book, Mastrogiovanni saw "Daytripper" as an "opportunity to explore a slightly different medium," while also exploring the theme of creativity.
Denying the prejudice that graphic novels "shouldn't be taken seriously," Hall hoped students would "be able to support" differing opinions in their new college environment. Echoing the views of the author, Hall voiced the importance of college friends and the ability "to connect in ways that will have meaning for you the rest of your life," both values expressed through the novel.
"It's not just about making the friendship," Hall said of the lessons Daytripper provides. "Its about the opportunity to learn from that person."
Nominations for the 2015 Life of the Mind Book can be submitted online through fys.utk.edu.