Monthly Archives: March 2010

Last Town at Murray State University

Murray State University has chosen The Last Town on Earth for its Freshman Experience Book. The book will be used with incoming first year students in English and Philosophy courses.

The novel, by Thomas Mullen, tells the story of a Northwestern town quarantined during the 1918 flu pandemic and addresses issues of morality that still resonate today. It has also been adopted for common reading at Bowling Green State University, the Rutgers University School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program, the Western Michigan University Honors program, and Whitman College. One City, One Book adoptions include A Tale for Three Counties in Batavia, New York and Together We Read in Stanwood and Camano Island, Washington.

Thomas Mullen spoke about his novel at the First-Year Experience conference during the Sixth Annual Random House Author Luncheon. View the video here! He has also written an original piece for our sister blog, Debate This Book. Read it and comment to let us know what you think.

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Agnes Scott College announces Outcasts United. Read their letter!

Dear Campus Community:

I am pleased to announce that the Common Reading for Fall 2010 will be Warren St. John’s 2009 book Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Differnce (NY: Spiegel & Grau).  

This book gives us a chance to engage the wider world by considering the experiences of refugees from across many cultures, and how a youth soccer team, founded by a woman named Luma Mufleh, changed a community in unforeseeable ways.  At the same time, this book brings the wide world to our door, since the American town where all this took place is five miles away in Clarkston, GA.

ASC connects further to this story because of Prof. Toby Emert’s work with the Fugees Academic Boot Camp last summer. As it states on the Fugees Family website ( http://www.fugeesfamily.org/programs.html):

“Last summer, we held a four-week day camp for the players to improve their academic ability, keep them connected to each other and the staff, and maintain their physical conditioning. The morning activities focused on reading and writing, and the afternoon sessions included art, science, math, and educational and recreational field trips. This summer, we will extend this program to six weeks and serve 60 Fugees, in partnership with Agnes Scott College.”

Last year’s Boot Camp ended with a “fair” organized by Dr. Emert where the Fugees showed and described their summer’s work.

For more information, see the book’s website: http://www.outcastsunited.com/.  Please look for information in the future about campus activities related to this book for 2010-11, including potential partnerships with the Georgia Tech community.

On behalf of the Common Reading committee,
Tracey Laird

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Green books! Talk sustainability with Ecological Intelligence, Plenty, and Planetwalker.

Is your committee looking for books on sustainability and going green? It is a topic of utmost importance to Ron Daniel, associate provost for undergraduate education at Virginia Tech, who recently stated:

The theme of ecological awareness and environmental sustainability emerged as we considered a variety of books. The selection committee felt that such a theme would offer many options for engagement and use of the book across all colleges and disciplines. It could connect with new university efforts in the area of heightened environmental awareness and action and provide opportunities to facilitate community service options for students and faculty.

Today’s post features three unique choices for your common reading program on this timely topic:

Ecological Intelligence: How Knowing the Hidden Impacts of What We Buy Can Change Everything 
by Daniel Goleman

A few months ago CommonReads brought you the news that Virginia Tech had selected this book for their Common Book Project. Drawing on cutting-edge research, Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, reveals why “green is a mirage,” illuminating inconsistencies in the human response to the ecological crisis and introducing new technologies that reveal the eco-impact of common products.

Plenty: Eating Locally on the 100-Mile Diet
by Alisa Smith and J.B. Mackinnon

Selected for common reading at Colorado Mountain College and a One Book, One Community Choice in Alliance, OH, this book chronicles the remarkable and inspiring adventures of a Canadian couple who make a year-long attempt to eat foods grown and produced within a 100-mile radius of their apartment.

Planetwalker: 22 Years of Walking. 17 Years of Silence.
by John Francis, Ph.D.

This 2007 Gold Winner of the Nautilus Book Awards in the categories of Ecology/Environment and Independent Press has been selected for common reading at Marian University, Tarleton State University, University of South Carolina, Upstate and Graceland University. James Uhlenkamp of Graceland University recently shared with CommonReads why they chose the story of Dr. Francis who, in the early 1970’s, took a 17-year-long vow of silence and stopped using all forms of motorized transportation for 22 years as an environmental protest.

Find more books on sustainability and environmental topics on our Freshman Year Reading webpage.

Also check out our Freshman Year Reading catalog featuring a “Go Green” section including a letter from Virginia Tech. Access the PDF here or e-mail rhacademic@randomhouse.com to have a catalog mailed to you.

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Cazenovia College to read The Innocent Man 

Cazenovia College has selected John Grisham’s The Innocent Man as their summer read for 2010. The book will be discussed among freshman in First Year Seminar courses within various disciplines from Business to Fine Arts, and the themes of the book will be used in their first assignment, a class wide essay competition.

Also selected for common reading at Greensboro College, The Innocent Man is a work of non-fiction. In 1982, a 21-year-old waitress in Ada, Oklahoma was raped and murdered. For five years the police could not solve the crime. They wound up charging former local baseball star Ron Williamson and his friend Dennis Fritz with capital murder. Despite the fact that the prosecution’s case was built on junk science and the testimony of jailhouse snitches and convicts, Fritz was found guilty and given a life sentence, and Williamson was sent to death row.

The book was selected to coincide with the campus visit of Sister Helen Prejean whose own book, Dead Man Walking, tells the story of her experience as a spiritual advisor to death row inmate, Patrick Sonnier.

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Outcasts United scores again with University of Nevada, Reno Summer Scholars!

members of The Fugees

Another point scored for Outcasts United!

The story of a refugee soccer team in the resettlement town of Clarkston, Georgia has been chosen by the University of Nevada, Reno for its 2010 Summer Scholars program!

Earlier this week we brought you video featuring author, Warren St. John, and some feedback about the book from other common reading programs throughout the country.

The University of Nevada, Reno joins a rapidly growing number of programs that have selected Outcasts United. Find the full list here and if you haven’t already, use the exam copy order form below to get yourself a copy!

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Win a FREE copy of I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced!


“I’m a simple village girl who has always obeyed the orders of my father and brothers. Since forever, I have learned to say yes to everything. Today I have decided to say no.”

These lines are taken from the new memoir, I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced, which tells the story of Nujood Ali, a young Yemeni girl who was married to a man twice her age and subsequently became the first child bride in the country to be granted a divorce.

Recently honored alongside Hillary Clinton and Condoleezza Rice as one of Glamour magazine’s women of the year, Nujood now tells her full story for the first time. Her unflinching look at an injustice suffered by all too many girls around the world is at once shocking, inspiring, and utterly unforgettable.

Nujood was profiled in the CNN World series Untold Stories. This segment provides a glimpse into her life.

CommonReads is giving away five free copies of I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced. For your chance to win one, leave a comment below. (Offer only available in the United States.)

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Outcasts United is picking up speed. Check out new video from the author and new links.

With all the recent news about Outcasts United: An American Town, a Refugee Team, and One Woman’s Quest to Make a Difference,it is easy for us to explain to you all the reasons why the book, by New York Times journalist Warren St. John, will resonate with your students.

But how about hearing it from the author himself?

We’ve previously brought you video from Mr. St. John’s talk at our recent Sixth Annual Author Luncheon at the First-Year Experience Conference in Denver, Colorado. In a new video he once again addresses the impact this story can have on ever-diversifiying college campuses. The video also features video of the town of Clarkston, Georgia where the story of the Fugees is set, as well as footage of the Fugees and their coach.

Also check out this webpage by the Maryland Humanities Council, detailing their response to this intiguing story. Just a few weeks ago, CommonReads brought you the news that they had selected the book for their One Maryland, One Book program.

For more program feedback, visit our previous post featuring comments from Utah State University about why they’ve adopted the book as common reading for their 2010-2011 school year.

Outcasts United’s impact is farther reaching by the day. In a recent e-mail to Random House Academic, Warren St. John updated us on his itinerary. He will be appearing at the Virginia Festival of the Book in Charlottesville, VA on Tuesday, March 23rd and will be taking part in an event hosted by the International Rescue Committee. From there, Mr. St. John will be heading to Atlanta for Roswell Reads, the common reading program run by the Roswell Public Library, just outside the city.

Want Warren St. John to come to your school or library? E-mail rhacademic@randomhouse.com for more information!

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