Tag Archives: memoir

Louisburg College’s My Orange Duffel Bag Project

This week, author Sam Bracken was featured as the opening speaker at Louisburg College’s kickoff celebration for the school’s 225th anniversary week.  My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change was selected as the college’s common reading title, and author Sam Bracken went to visit the campus to share his story with faculty and students.

Faculty at Louisburg College have developed engaging assignments related to the book for their Crossroads Program, a program designed to get first-year students to explore not only how they learn, but also how they live their lives. Below is a sampling of assignments connected to the “My Orange Duffel Bag Project”:

  1. Decorate the Cover! Be creative. Decorate the cover of the notebook any way that you would like – it just needs to be decorate. You can draw, paint, cover, or do anything you think will make it look cool and look like you!
  2. First 10 Pages – these pages will serve as journal pages. Each class you will be given a topic to journal on and have some time to do this at the beginning of each class.
  3. Next 10 Pages – these pages are “YOU” pages. You should include anything that is important to you Continue reading

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Living Half a Life

Darin Strauss, author of the power and unforgettable memoir Half a Life, has written something special for his readers that we’d like to share on Common Reads. In Half a Life, acclaimed novelist Darin Strauss recounts a tragedy and its aftermath. He explores loss and guilt, maturity and accountability, hope and acceptance. The result is a staggering, uplifting tour de force.

We are very excited to have Strauss as one of our featured speakers at next year’s FYE conference. In his following essay, Strauss gives us a powerful picture of why he finally chose, after 18 years, to write this memoir. He also explains what the clarity and healing that has come with this revealing has meant both to himself and to his readers.


When I was 18, I was in a car accident: a girl swerved in front of my car, I couldn’t avoid her, and she died. I moved soon afterward, and so this crash and its aftermath made up  the secret I carried around for 18 years. Until I wrote HALF A LIFE.

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Virginia Commonwealth University Selects The Other Wes Moore as FYE Pick for Fall!

Exciting news this morning: Common Reads has learned that Virginia Commonwealth University has selected The Other Wes Moore as its First Year Experience pick for this fall!

Lets not forget that Moore will also be a featured speaker at next weekend’s First Year Experience Conference in Atlanta, GA. If you haven’t registered yet for the FYE luncheon, it’s not too late to snag the last few spots!

The Other Wes Moore is the story of two young men and the journey of a generation. It has also been adopted as common reading at Bay Path College (Springfield, MA), Cabrini College (Radnor, PA), California State University at Bakersfield (Bakersfield, CA), and selected for community reading programs in Bakersfield, CA and Multnomah County Library in Portland, OR.


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Filed under Announcements, FYE Speakers Series, One Book One Community Adoptions, One to Watch - New books on the rise!, This just in! - New Adoptions

Mark your calendars for the Seventh Annual Random House First-Year Experience Author Luncheon!


Random House announces its Seventh Annual Author Luncheon at the 2011 First-Year Experience Conference in Atlanta, GA.

Authors in attendance include:

Wes Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore: The Story of One Name and Two Fates
Eboo Patel, author of Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, in the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation
Jon Prendergast, author of The Enough Moment: Fighting to End Africa’s Worst Human Rights Crimes
Rebecca Skloot, author of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

WHEN: Monday, February 7th, 11:30AM-1:30PM
WHERE: Marriott Marquis, Atlanta, GA, Room A602 on the Atrium Level
WHY: To hear four authors speak about their books

Past luncheon authors have included Tracy Kidder, Carlotta Walls LaNier, Sonia Nazario, Warren St. John and Bill Strickland.

Join us for FREE books and FREE lunch!

View the invitation here and RSVP soon! Space is limited!

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Dana Canedy speaks at Sixth Annual First-Year Experience Author Luncheon. See it here!

As promised, we are bringing you video of our Sixth Annual First-Year Experience Author Luncheon, which took place on Monday February 15th at the Sheraton Hotel in Denver, Colorado.

Dana Canedy (A Journal for Jordan), Thomas Mullen (Last Town on Earth), Carlotta Walls LaNier (A Mighty Long Way), Warren St. John (Outcasts United) and Bill Strickland (Make the Impossible Possible)  gave talks on their books, highlighting why each one would make an excellent adoption for your common reading program. If you were unable to make it to the conference, or if you’d like to experience each of these wonderful talks again, they will be posted in several posts in the upcoming weeks.

First we feature Dana Canedy whose memoir A Journal For Jordan was praised and discussed in this recent post and adopted for common reading at the University of Texas at Arlington.

For more information on bringing these speakers to your school or community e-mail rhacademic@randomhouse.com.


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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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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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