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!

Henderson State University Picks A Long Way Gone for the 2011 Common Book Program

Henderson State University has adopted Ishmael Beah’s A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier for their 2011 Common Book Program!  Freshman students will each receive a copy when they visit campus for Heart Start, a two-day orientation program held throughout the summer.

In the fall, the book will be required reading in the First Year Experience transition course, the Henderson Seminar. The seminar’s objectives are to:

—Introduce students to the Henderson experience and to the liberal arts
—Develop among first year students a community of learners
—Inform new students of the many opportunities available at HSU
—Improve academic skills and strategies
—Promote meaningful discussions of campus and personal issues

Beyond the classroom, HSU is planning a series of all-campus events related to A Long Way Gone and the issues raised in the book.  The highlight will be Ishmael Beah‘s campus visit in September. All Henderson students, especially freshmen, will be encouraged to attend the author’s lecture, “A Long Way Gone: A Story of Redemption and Hope.”

Each year, the Common Book is selected by a panel of Henderson faculty and administrators from all areas of the university. The committee seeks titles that are readable, relevant, and engaging for students and have interdisciplinary applications in the curriculum.

A Long Way Gone at Henderson State University, Fall 2011

A Long Way Gone is one of Macmillan’s most Popular Picks for common reading programs!   Henderson State University is one of more than fifty colleges and universities to adopt the book, to date.

A Long Way Gone • Sarah Crichton Books • 240 pages

A Long Way Gone is the 2010 Common Text at Wright State University

Wright State University’s 2010 Common Text is A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier.  The university is giving a copy of the book to each member of the class of 2014 at Orientation sessions throughout the summer. The Common Text program was established:

—To expose students to WSU’s academic atmosphere from the time they arrive on campus for Orientation
—To provide a common academic experience for all first-year students by giving them the opportunity to engage with peers in intellectual discussions both inside and outside the classroom.
—To communicate the expectation that students will begin to read actively and critically, make judgments about the validity of what they read and be able to discuss challenging, sometimes conflicting, ideas.

Author Ishmael Beah will speak at Freshman Convocation, held when students arrive on campus in September. Beah’s address will kick off this year’s Presidential Lecture Series, which aims “to advance human justice and promote the university’s commitment to creating a diverse university community and learning environment.”

This year, the university has established a Common Text Essay Contest and invited first-year students to select and write on a theme and passage from the book.  The winner will be announced during the Freshman Convocation ceremony.

Later in the fall, Wright State University will host a Campus Big Read event—read-a-thon style!  Beginning at 8:30am on Wednesday, November 3, students, campus officials, and local celebrities will read passages from A Long Way Gone for 10-15 minutes before handing the book off to the next reader.  It’s an opportunity to unite the campus community while raising awareness for the plight of child soldiers.

A Long Way Gone will be central to many First-Year Seminars this year, as well as courses in WSU’s Learning Community program, which links General Education courses with specific seminars or fields of study.  Students who share similar interests or majors take at least two classes together, which affords a network of new friends and study partners while they make the transition to college life.

Previous Common Text selections at Wright State University include An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It and Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in AmericaClick here to see a list of other colleges and universities that have adopted Macmillan’s Popular Picks for common reading programs!

A Long Way Gone • Sarah Crichton Books • 240 pages

Addendum:

Ishmael Beah and his editor, Sarah Crichton, spoke recently about where he’s been and what he’s been doing since his memoir was published in 2007.

Crichton: I find it tremendously moving how the book keeps finding a larger and larger audience. So many high-school and college students read it.

Beah: Yes, more and more schools keep assigning it, and I keep meeting teachers who say, “This is the first time this kid has ever finished reading a book.” It is beyond my own comprehension. The book has a life of its own.

Read the complete interview at Work in Progress.