Monthly Archives: August 2009


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Common Reads is dedicated to bringing you the latest in adoption news, program information, and resources related to common reading programs at high schools, universities, and within communities.

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Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands a nationwide common read!


2003 Chautauqua South Fiction Award winner

2003 San Diego Magazine’s Book Award for Fiction

2002 Deadly Pleasures’ Best U.S. First Novel

Inspired by real events, Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands is a novel that tackles race politics in the pre-Civil Rights South unlike any other book in recent memory.

A wise and luminous story about a northern family, a souther town, and the senseless murder that sparks an extraordinary act of courage, the book is told from the point of view of a little girl who is witness to the lynching of a black man. From the arrival of noteworthy figures such as Thurgood Marshall, the NAACP, and Mr. Hoover’s FBI, to the expressed opinions and actions of the everyday town citizen, Lay That Trumpet In Our Hands will give students a solid sense of the events, people and national mood of this volatile and chaotic period in American history.

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John Barleycorn makes it to Sonoma State

John Barleycorn

This just in!

Sonoma State University has selected Jack London’s semi-autobiographical John Barleycorn for its Freshman Year Experience read.

Click here to learn more about the book.

Read an excerpt here.

Order an exam copy here.

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Need a dynamic speaker? Check out videos from the Random House 2009 First-Year Experience Author Luncheon

Looking for dyamic speakers for your common reading program?

Consider the great authors we featured at our luncheon program last February at the 2009 Freshman Year Experience conference in Orlando, FL.

Visit our Freshman Year Reading webpage to view videos of talks given by Donovan Campbell (Joker One), Louise Steinmann (The Souvenir), Michael Greenberg (Hurry Down Sunshine), John Elder Robison (Look Me in the Eye),  and Tracy Kidder (Mountains Beyond Mountains and Strength in What Remains).  While you’re there, click on the book title to see more about each author’s book.


You’ll also find audio recordings of each talk on the Freshman Year Reading page.

For more information on the availability of Random House, Inc. authors, e-mail

Request exam copies here.

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A Hope in the Unseen chosen from North Dakota to Maryland!

a hope in the unseen

It is 1993, and Cedric Jennings is a bright and feociously determined honor student at Ballou, a high school in one of Washington D.C.’s most dangerous neighborhoods, where the dropout rate is well into double digits and just 80 students out of more than 1,350 boast an average of B or better. At Ballou, Cedric has almost no friends. He eats lunch in a classroom most days, plowing through the extra work he has asked for, knowing that he’s really competing with kids from other, harder schools. Cedric Jennings’s driving ambition — which is fully supported by his forceful mother — is to attend a top-flight college.

In September 1995, after years of near superhuman dedication, he realizes that ambition when he begins as a freshman at Brown University. A Hope in the Unseen chronicles Cedric’s odyssey during his last two years of high school, follows him through his difficult first year at Brown, and now tells the story of his subsequent successes in college and the world of work.

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Marquette County Michigan and Northern Michigan U come together to read ONE BOOK.

the things they carried

This just in!

Northern Michigan University has adopted Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried in conjunction with the Marquette County One Book, One Community reading program sponsored by and partnered with local businesses and public libraries.

Though critics can’t agree whether to call this fine book a novel or a series of linked stories, their acclaim is universal. O’Brien mined his experiences as a foot soldier in Vietnam to write this powerful American classic that unflinchingly examines the myriad effects of war on man. The fighting, the waiting, the monotony, and, finally, the aftermath are all brutally scrutinized in heartbreakingly beautiful prose that captivates and educates readers of all ages. – from the “One Book Marquette” website

The Things They Carried has also been selected for common reading at the following institutions:

California Lutheran U, Appalachian State U, Bowling Green State U, Gustavus Adolphus Coll., James Madison U, Miami U (Ohio), Pacific U, U of Wisconsin, Osh Kosh, Pacific U (OR), SUNY Stony Brook, Texas State U, Valparaiso U, Whittier Coll., Yeshiva U, California State U, Northridge; Hamline U, U of Virginia’s College at Wise, and others.


 Find more information about the book here.

There is a Teacher’s Guide available for this book. For information about how to request a printed guide, e-mail

For questions regarding One Book, One Community programs, or for a copy of our new OBOC catalog, e-mail

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Virginia Tech goes green!

Virginia Tech University has selected Daniel Goleman’s new Ecological Intelligence for its 2009-2010 Common Reading program.

Ecological Intelligence


Read more about the book.

Read an excerpt.

Order an exam copy.

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