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How to Be Perfect (First Year Read, 2023)

A guide to the 2023 First Year Read Program pick, How to Be Perfect by Michael Schur (2022).

How to Be Perfect:
The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question

Michael Schur

2023 First Year Read


Welcome to the reading guide for the First Year Reading Program's 2023 pick, How to Be Perfect by Michael Schur, created by librarians Courtney Walsh and Vicky Ludas Orlofsky.


Read it online!

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“The most important part of becoming better people, I’ll say yet again, is that we care about whether what we do is good or bad, and therefore try to do the right thing.” (Schur, p. 202)

How to Use This Guide

This guide collects the major points and concepts of How to Be Perfect to help you expand on what you read in Schur's book with books from the Library, videos, and links to more information.

Schur often cites the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) and so do we. However, please note that the SEP has a strong focus in Western philosophy and is weaker in its coverage of Asian and African philosophical concepts so we have also brought in other important sources.


Research and reference resources where we found a lot of the information in this guide and where you can go to explore these concepts further.


Library Subscription Database

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Online Reference

New Student Orientation

The First Year Reading Program is a component of New Student Orientation and run by the Office of Undergraduate Student Life.

Summer Engagement Contest 2023 (Office of Undergraduate Student Life)

This is an optional reading contest meant to showcase different perspectives students have after reading our 2023 First Year Read. The first-place winner will receive a $200 bookstore credit and the second-place winner will receive a $100 bookstore credit. Pick one of the prompts listed below and create a submission that captures the essence of the prompt or question.  

  • Writing Options (roughly 500 words): 

    • Michael Schur emphasizes that we fail to be ethical all the time. He recommends that we embrace failure, and “fail better” next time. Describe a time when you failed to live up to your ethical standards and explain how it will help you “fail better” going forward. 

    • Write an inspirational speech that you would hypothetically present to the Class of 2027 drawing on the main themes and ideas of the book. 

  • Graphic Design/Art Options: 

    • Based on the reading how would you redesign the cover of this book? Your redesign could be in the form of a painting, drawing, graphic design, or any medium you see fit. 

    • Create a comic strip to accompany any chapter in the book.  

  • Entertainment Options: 

    • Design a game to teach ethics to college students. The game is expected to develop participants' ethical decision-making skills and to make sound judgments when resolving and mitigating ethical dilemmas. 

    • Design a roughly two-minute movie trailer for How to Be Perfect

All contest entries must be submitted by August 11 to

Guide Creators

Your librarians look forward to meeting you this fall.