A new book is making the rounds at the University of Calgary and is putting the spotlight on Schizophrenia.

It is a stressful time of year for many first-year university students, who are moving into residence, paying tuition and buying books.

The Common Reading Program at the U of C is making the first week a little easier.

The program is designed to welcome new students and all new students are provided with the common reading selection.

“It's easy for them to say to another new student, what did you think about the book?, or what was the best bit for you?, and so on. It's about building friendships, building community,” said Susan Barker, Vice Provost, Student Experiences.

This year’s book is Bitter Medicine: A Graphic Memoir of Mental Illness by Clem Martini and Olivier Martini.

The authors chronicle their lives living with schizophrenia.

“This book looks at our journey from the time my younger brother was diagnosed in 77 to my older brother’s diagnosis in 80 to where we are now and the various struggles that have occurred,” said Clem Martini.

Classes have barely begun for Rosemary Breton, but she is already hooked on the new book.

“What really struck me about the book was the solitary nature of it,” said Breton. “I thought it was great so that when you meet with people you're not just talking about superficial things like what's your favorite colour, what are your favourite classes?”

The novel has been the topic of discussion during this week's orientation activities.

Students are having deep conversations about mental illness, a topic which is not often discussed among new friends.

“This is where change will happen. This is where discussion has to happen because if this discussion doesn't happen, no change is possible,” said author, Clem Martini.

Officials at the U of C plan to continue the program next year.

For more information on the Common Reading Program, visit the University of Calgary website.