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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No Impact Man is Ohio State’s 2010 Buckeye Book

No Impact Man is the 2010 pick for the Buckeye Book Community at Ohio State University!  Every first-year student received a copy at summer orientation.  They read the book over the summer and returned to campus in the fall prepared to discuss it—and embark on their own No Impact experience.

For a decade, the Buckeye Book Community program selected a book about a relevant social issue and assigned the reading to the incoming first-year class.  The shared reading experience:

—Promotes reflection and dialogue among first-year students and faculty/staff around a common academic activity
—Introduces students to expectations of higher education
—Cultivates the life of the mind in and outside the classroom
—Helps foster community among first-year students
—Connects first-year students to faculty and staff through co-curricular programming
—Provides students with the opportunity to hear from the author, engage with the author through Q&A, and gain a greater understanding of the author’s motivation and writing process

Colin Beavan, author and the founder of No Impact Project, spent two days on campus this month.  In the evenings, he spoke to large audiences about why his family embarked on a year-long No Impact Experiment and how the experience changed his perception of human impact on the environment, strengthened his resolve to make longterm lifestyle changes on behalf of the planet, and shifted his personal values and goals.

Colin also joined students in smaller discussion groups to talk about writing and reading No Impact Man and share ideas about conservation and sustainability practices on campus.

Watch and Listen: “No Impact Week” at The Ohio State University

Those ideas were put into action during OSU’s No Impact Week, October 10-17.  To kick it off, Students for a Sustainable Campus sponsored the fourth annual Scarlett, Gray, and Green Fair, featuring more than forty booths (and free food, free t-shirts, and the chance to win a free bike!)  University administrative departments like the Office of Business and the Office of Energy Services, as well as environmental organizations and companies from across the state, showcased their environmentally friendly goals and achievements and encouraged students to get involved, as well.

Some students and faculty contributors to the Ohio State No Impact Blog shared their thoughts about No Impact Man and No Impact Week with the whole campus community:

“After reading No Impact Man, I realized more than ever that being environmentally friendly not only helps the environment (clearly), but could actually significantly improve my life.

For example, this book, along with my summer internship with Consider Biking, is the reason I have taken my bike on errands instead of my car. As a result, I am in better shape and have saved a lot of money on gas. Another change No Impact Man has led me to make is watching less TV. It is amazing how much more I get done now. And while I thought TV was helping me unwind, I am actually more relaxed if I read, play guitar, go running, etc.

Therefore, I am interested to see how participating in no Impact Week will further change my habits for the better. I realize that a lot of the changes are very easy and I should have already been doing them, but I think this is the push I need.”

Stacy Weisfeld, OSU Class of 2011, Vice President of Students for Recycling, Assistant to Director of Sustainability and Energy Management

Themed days throughout the week zeroed in on reducing impact in different areas.  For instance, Consumption and Trash Day included a tour of the local Rumpke Recycling facility, distribution of free recycling bins for dorm rooms, and installation of recycling stations in some common areas that were missing them.  On Food Issues Day, participants learned about sustainable food practices like eating locally and packing lunch in reusable bags.  Dining Services invited students behind the scenes to see how their food waste is handled.  For Transportation Day, OSU held an Alternate Transit Resources Fair representing greener ways to get around campus and the Columbus area and the Department of Recreational Sports hosted a Biking 101 course.

The Buckeye Book Program and OSU’s No Impact Week made local headlines: Book Inspires OSU Students To Limit Impact

Colin’s No Impact Project organization can customize a program for any campus.  Interested?  Learn more

In previous years, Ohio State has adopted Elie Wiesel’s Night and Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America for the Buckeye Book Community.

No Impact Man • Picador • 288 pages

This I Believe II is the 29th Annual Summer Reading Book at Miami University in Ohio

This I Believe II: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women is the summer reading title for first-year students at Miami University in Ohio this year!

The Summer Reading Program, now in its 29th year, is considered a student’s first assignment as a Miami University freshman.  The program underlines those activities valued most by the Miami community: critical engagement with ideas; close interaction among faculty, staff, and students; and reading, listening, talking, and learning as characteristics of active, responsible citizenship.

To welcome new students to the university and to introduce them to the engaged reading, writing, and critical thinking they’ll do in their four years there, the entire class receives a copy of the same book and reads it over the summer.  When they arrive on campus in August, students will hear a lecture by the author (or, in this case, editor) and discuss the reading in small groups of classmates from their residential halls, professors, and upperclass student leaders.

Miami University in Ohio has previously adopted Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich and Elie Wiesel’s memoir, Night.  To see a list of schools that have adopted these books, as well as Jay Allison and Dan Gediman’s first volume of essays, This I Believe, and other Popular Picks from Macmillan, click here.

This I Believe II • Holt Paperbacks • 288 pages