Monthly Archives: September 2009

Giveaway! Tracy Kidder’s Strength in What Remains 

strength in what remainsHello!

Just saying a quick “hi” to all our new readers! Common Reads is continuing to grow. Please bookmark our blog and check back often for the latest and best in title recommendations, adoption news, resources, and information relating to Freshman and Common Reading programs at the school/university and community levels.

As a “thank you” for reading, we’re giving away copies of Pulitzer prize-winning author Tracy Kidder’s newest book, Strength in What Remains. The first 5 people to comment get one!

Thanks for reading!


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One to watch! Outcasts United already scoring big…

Outcasts United

Random House Academic has been buzzing about a wonderful new book with great common reading potential and two universities have already hopped on board! Georgia Tech and McMurry Universities have chosen Warren St. John’s Outcasts United for their new freshman classes.

Clarkston, Georgia, was a fading Southern town until it was designated a settlement center for refugees in the 1990s, becoming the first American home for scores of families in flight from the world’s war zones. The town also became home to Luma Mufleh, an American-educated woman from Jordan, who volunteered to coach a youth soccer program for Clarkston’s refugee children. They named themselves the Fugees.

Originating in an acclaimed series of front-page articles in the New York Times, this is the long-awaited story of the Fugees, played out against the backdrop of an American town that, without its consent, had become a vast experiment in getting along. Driven by the fast-paced narrative of a season that saw the team and its young players pushed to the brink, Outcasts United is a brilliantly reported, moving chronicle of a small town struggling to become a global community, the resilience and hope of a group of young refugees, and how we find home in a changing world.

Also stay tuned for video of author Warren St. John’s talk at a recent program for NYC-area high school teachers held at Random House, Inc.


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Hurry Down to Molloy College

hurry down

Molloy College will be using Michael Greenberg’s riviting memoir, Hurry Down Sunshine for its upcoming 2009 year common reading book.

The book tells the story of an extraordinary summer when, at the age of fifteen, Greenberg’s daughter was struck mad. It begins with Sally’s visionary crack-up on the streets of Greenwich Village, and continues, among places, in the out-of-time world of a Manhattan psyhiatric ward during the city’s most sweltering months. Chronicling not only Sally’s journey but also its effect on her family, this unsetimental, nuanced book touches the core of what is deeply humane.

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Last Town at Whitman College

Whitman College has selected Last Town on Earth. Thomas Mullen’s powerful novel, while set at the turn of the 20th century, is definitely in keeping with the times.

last town on earth

Set against the backdrop of one of the most virulent epidemics that America ever experienced–the 1918 flu epidemic–this sweeping first novel is a tale of morality in a time of upheaval.

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Filed under award winners, One Book One Community Adoptions, This just in! - New Adoptions, Top Adoptions

Impossible is possible for students at IUP

make the impossible

Indiana University of Pennsylvania is hoping to inspire students to dream big with their selection of Bill Stricklands Make the Impossible Possible: One Man’s Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Acheive the Extraordinary for their 2009-2010 Common Freshman Reader.

“The Common Freshman Reader program is designed to enhance new students’ personal investment in the earliest stage of their learning experience at IUP,” said Dr. Tony Atwater, the university’s president, who first introduced the program four years ago.

The book is Mr. Strikland’s personal story – “It’s the American dream with a twist: for Strickland, it was never about shedding his past and getting ahead but about following his bliss and making a difference.” (Publishers Weekly) The Pennsylvania native is the president and CEO of Manchester Bidwell Corporation and its subsidiaries, Manchester Craftsmen’s Guild, and Bidwell Training Center. He has won multiple awards and has been involved with many committees and organizations including the Expansion Arts Panel of the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, D.C., the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the Pennsylvania State Board of Education.

This book is out in paperback October 20th.


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One to watch! Tarleton State U adopts Planetwalker


Tarleton State University has selected Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence.  for their common reading program this Fall.

Planetwalker was also the 2008 Freshman English Common Reading Selection for University of South Carolina Upstate.

After witnessing an oil spill in the San Francisco Bay in the 1970’s, John Francis became frustrated with animal rescue and restoration efforts. He decided to take a more fundamental and personal stand by giving up using all forms of motorized transportation. Thus he began a journey, on foot, that lasted more than two decades and spaned two continents. Francis also took a vow of silence – one that lasted 17 years. His inspirational story serves as more than a look at a coming-of-age pilgrimmage. Its timely message will resonate loudly with students as efforts to “go green” continue to change, mobilize, and grow.


Reader’s Guide

For more about John Francis , his organization and his efforts, visit his website:

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Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father adoptions grow

dreams from my father

First published in 2003, during Barak Obama’s tenure in the U.S. Senate, Dreams from My Father offers students more than a simple glimpse into the life of this historic president. President Obama lyrically and unsentimentally explores his own search for self as the son of a white American mother and black African father. With the insight only experience can provide, he guides readers “straight into the intersection of the most serious questions of identity, class, and race” (The Washington Post Book World). As your student body continues to grow and diversify this reflection on rejecting stereotypes, finding community and the struggle to attain a true identity can bring depth, insight  and American history,into your freshman year reading and common reading programs.

The following universities have selected this book for common reading:

Boston College

University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

California State University – East Bay

La Guardia Community College

Also consider these Barack Obama books: The Audacity of Hope (common reading at Endicott College and New York Institute of Technology) A Change We Can Believe In and Barack Obama For Beginners, An Essential Guide


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