Mountain View College Selects Nickel and Dimed for the 2012 Common Book Project

This year, students, faculty, and staff at Mountain View College will learn about and consider the challenges faced by Americans working for minimum wage as they read Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America. The bestselling book has been selected for the 2012 Common Book Project.

Each year, a committee seeks a text “that has application across an array of academic disciplines.”

The common book should encourage students to think critically, ask questions, and discuss themes and issues with their peers. A truly interdisciplinary initiative, Mountain View faculty has “integrated the Common Book into course sections in History, Spanish, Humanities, Biology, Art, English, Chemistry, Physics, Drama, Speech, Government, Cultural Studies and Developmental Writing.”

Mountain View College 2012 Common Book Project Kick-off : Conversation with Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed

Beyond the classroom, programming to complement the Common Book Project includes “author lectures, performing arts events, visual arts exhibits and Café Conversations.” Most notably, Barbara Ehrenreich kicked off the fall programming calendar when she visited campus in September.

This month, the Common Book Writing Contest, open to any student enrolled at MVC, calls for 5,000-word essays written in response to a brief prompt. First, Second, and Third place prizes will be awarded, and all entries are considered for publication in the MVC Writer’s Garret, the college’s literary magazine.

The Mountain View College Theatre Department is also participating; at the end of October, they’ll stage playwright Joan Holden’s dramatic adaptation of Nickel and Dimed.

Since its first publication in 2001, nearly 100 colleges and universities have adopted Nickel and Dimed for their common reading programs. Check out the list of those schools, and browse our other most Popular Picks for common reading.

Nickel and Dimed • Picador • 256 pages

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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!

Freshman English Students at University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point Read Nickel and Dimed

Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed: On [Not] Getting by in America has become a favorite of common reading programs in colleges, high schools, libraries, and communities all over the country.

The Freshman English Program at University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point is one of many programs using the book in this academic year. Nickel and Dimed will be assigned in all sections of Freshman English this fall and next spring.  All students are required to take the course, which emphasizes practice in research and composition. By the end of the Spring 2010 semester, every member of the class of 2013 will have read, discussed, and written about the book.

The 10th anniversary edition of Nickel and Dimed, with a new afterword by the author, was published in 2008. Read more about the book here.

Ms. Ehrenreich’s latest work, Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, will be available from Macmillan this month.