Macmillan’s Common Reading March Madness Picks!

Colleges and universities of all sizes in all regions are gearing up for the NCAA Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament and Macmillan wants in on the bracketology!

Click for a closer look:

Macmillan is not affiliated with the NCAA, ESPN, or HP. Bracket Source: ESPN

Since I’m all about selecting winning books for common reading, I based my bracket picks on the schools that have adopted Macmillan titles for their programs. When neither school had—at least, not this season!—I went with the lower seed (those picks are noted in black). When Macmillan adopters went head to head, I used seed positions to make my predictions, as well.

I proposed the common reading bracket with tongue in cheek, but my little experiment has been fun and informative. Here we have a whole new perspective on the trends and the diversity in common reading selections at schools across the country.

As you can see, the competitors are very well read!

In the East, Ohio State is the favorite with Elie Wiesel’s Night, Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, and Colin Beavan’s No Impact Man. First Four victor Clemson has previously adopted Ron Rash’s novel One Foot in Eden, and they’ll be reading his Saints at the River this fall. Common reader MVP No Impact Man is the Fall 2011 book at the University of Kentucky. Nickel and Dimed has been the common reading title at both UNC, Chapel Hill and Syracuse University. The UNC Tarheels have also read Picking Cotton and The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down, while Syracuse has adopted A Long Way Gone. The University of Washington represents with Elizabeth Kolbert’s Field Notes from a Catastrophe.

Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone dominates in the West, where the universities of Texas and Tennessee have both selected the book. Hampton University first-year students have been reading Daniel Black’s They Tell Me of a Home just this year and Temple’s have read Elie Wiesel’s Night. Number two seed San Diego State University has adopted Ray C. Anderson’s Business Lessons from a Radical Industrialist.

Next, we go to the Southwest, where Boston University has favorites Nickel and Dimed and A Long Way Gone on its roster. The University of Illinois has also adopted Nickel and Dimed and the University of Akron has chosen A Long Way Gone. Class Matters has been read campus-wide at the University of Richmond, while Saint Peter’s has adopted Night. Florida State students submitted their own “This I Believe” essays when the university picked This I Believe—how many of the Seminoles wrote about basketball?

Finally, in the Southeast, University of Pittsburgh students have read Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down. Utah State has adopted Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone and Wofford College freshmen have read Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Ron Rash’s One Foot in Eden. Students in the University of Wisconsin system, from Parkside to Marathon County, have read everything from This I Believe II to Deep Economy; I hope they’re all united behind the Badgers from Madison! But can sixth-seed Saint John’s take Katharine Weber’s Triangle all the way to the championship?

The Big Dance begins tomorrow—what book are you rooting for?

P.S. For more unconventional bracketology for academics, check out The Chronicle of Higher Education‘s Tweed Madness!

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The Short Bus is the 2010 Common Read at University of Idaho

Jonathan Mooney’s The Short Bus: A Journey Beyond Normal is the Common Read title this year at the University of Idaho. The book is assigned as summer reading to all incoming students. Transfer students are also encouraged to participate, as well as all interested faculty and upperclassmen.

The Common Read is an initiative of the Dean of Students and the Teaching and Learning Center. Each year, a committee of faculty, staff, and students chooses a book that is engaging and relevant to the student body.

The program “is designed to help students prepare intellectually and academically for their first semester at the University of Idaho. This coming fall, themes and ideas from the book will be used in CORE curriculum classes, orientation activities, civic engagement activities and across a variety of disciplines.”

Bill McKibben’s Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future was the Common Read title in 2009. It, too, was assigned in CORE courses throughout the 2009-10 academic year, including Associate Professor Lee Vierling’s class in the College of Natural Resources, “The Earth and Our Place On It.” Professor Vierling’s students initiated a service-learning project that “explored connections among biodiversity, deforestation, poverty, community resilience and the social status of women.”

Read more about those students’ project here: Natural Resources Service-Learning Project Promotes Global Environmental Stewardship

How will University of Idaho students apply the principles and themes from Jonathan Mooney‘s book on their campus and in their community this year?

The Short Bus • Holt Paperbacks • 288 pages

University of Wisconsin, Marathon County Selects Deep Economy for Shared Reading

The 2009-2010 Shared Reading title at the University of Wisconsin, Marathon County is Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future. The book was selected by a committee of faculty and university administrators with the theme “Building Community” in mind.

Three years ago, when the Shared Reading theme was “Affluenza,” author Bill McKibben gave a capstone address on campus and the committee was eager to revisit McKibben’s work.  The school has enthusiastically incorporated his book into the curriculum and campus programming this year.

UW, Marathon County’s goal is to have each student to encounter the book in at least one course this year. The Shared Reading program committee has planned programming—speakers, panels, workshops, competitions—that will engage students, faculty and the statewide University of Wisconsin community throughout the academic year.

Several staff members associated with the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service, which is based on the Marathon County campus, have written grants to support programming and expand the impact of the Shared Reading experience.

In recent years, Deep Economy has been adopted for similar common reading programs at Ohio Wesleyan University, RIT, and University of Texas, Arlington.

Bill McKibben is the author of five books published by Henry Holt, including Eaarth (available April 2010).