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!

This I Believe II is the 2010 Ranger Read at UW, Parkside

This I Believe II: More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women is the Ranger Read at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside this fall.  First-year students, the newest class of UW, Parkside Rangers, received copies of the book when they visited campus for pre-orientation sessions in April, May, June, July, and August, leading up to the Ranger Welcome orientation just before classes started this month.

On the first day of Ranger Welcome, the new freshman class formed small groups and faculty and instructional academic staff facilitated discussions about the book’s content and its context, the students’ beliefs, their expectations and perspectives about success at UW, Parkside, and the university’s central values: academic excellence, community engagement, diversity, and inclusiveness.

Each student was asked to consider these topics in advance as he or she read the book over the summer, and then prepare a written or artistic response on a single letter-sized sheet of paper.  These responses provided a starting point for group discussion; in addition, students were invited to contribute their pages to a Class of 2014 exhibit called “This We Believe.”

“This I believe: I believe we, the faculty, academic staff, classified staff, students, administration, alumni, Foundation and Advisory board members, community leaders, and friends will begin this academic year focused on the spirit of success, the spirit of inspiring students to exceed beyond their potential, the spirit to engage in transformative and lifelong learning; I believe we will fully embrace ‘Learning’ in all that you do . . . I believe we will rise to the challenges and embrace opportunities for all to be successful at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.  This I believe!”

Debbie Ford, Chancellor, University of Wisconsin, Parkside, 2010 Convocation Address

The Ranger Read program was introduced in 2006 to jump-start the transition to the demands of the college-level learning environment, where successful students question, understand, and develop their own opinions about a text and where the shared reading experience helps develop relationships among faculty and peers.

Both volumes of “This I Believe” essays compiled by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, host and curator and executive producer of the NPR program of the same name, are Popular Picks for common reading programs.  Click here to see other colleges and universities that have adopted This I Believe, This I Believe II, and other titles from Macmillan.

This I Believe II • Holt Paperbacks • 288 pages