Tag Archives: Thomas Mullen

Montana State U. Students Use The Last Town on Earth to Reach Out to Women in Prison

Author Thomas Mullen’s book, The Last Town on Earth, was adopted last year as common reading for all incoming freshmen at Montana State University – Billings. Mullen had hoped that his book, which deals with important topics such as morality, making difficult choices, overcoming fear of the unknown, and hope for a better future, would relate fittingly to the lives of undergraduate students who face similar challenges – what he hadn’t imagined was that his story would find even more common-ground with the women incarcerated at Passages, a correctional institution just one mile from the MSUB campus.

Two instructors from MSUB offered a course in 2010 that included a Service Learning Project – students of the course would examine The Last Town on Earth in a joint book club with Passages residents. The main theme of “community” within both the novel as well as the book club begged the question from each woman, “what is community?”.

The learning and friendship that developed between the students and the residents of Passages, all stemming from discussion of Mullen’s The Last Town on Earth, was largely captured on camera by a small film crew that was making a documentary for an MSUB communications class – and it’s one that’s worth checking out: http://www.spotlightads.com/Demos/msub_passages.html

The project also included a visit to Passages by Mullen himself, where he met and spoke with the women of the correctional institution back in December of last year. To hear Mullen’s own account of his experience discussing The Last Town on Earth with Passages residents, check out his blog post on “My First Prison Book Club.”

So much chance and inspiration sprung out of what first started as a First Year Experience reading choice in snowy Billings, Montana, and grew into an entirely different and unforeseen community experience in a women’s prison. Just goes to show that the message of one book can cross borders in the most unexpected and terrific ways.


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Murray State talks Thomas Mullen’s The Last Town on Earth

CommonReads previously brought you the news Murray State University selected Thomas Mullen’s The Last Town on Earth for it’s Freshman Reading Experience program. Mr. Mullen recently spoke to students at the university and has received wonderful accolades from Ted Brown, Dean of the College of Humanities and Fine Arts:

We could not have asked for a better presenter than Mr. Mullen.  He gave of himself, his knowledge, and his time freely to both our students and our faculty, charming and enlightening each one of the many groups with which he came in contact during his two days with us.  He was both eloquent and personable in talking with our students, showing genuine interest in them and in their ideas.  Students and faculty alike loved his book from the outset, but they appreciated it even more after being able to frame it in the context of his impressive personal presence.  There are great authors and there are great presenters, but they are all too rarely found in the same person:  Thomas Mullen is one of those precious few, and I recommend him most highly.

For more information on bringing Thomas Mullen or other Random House, Inc. authors to your campus contact rhacademic@randomhouse.com.

View video of Thomas Mullen speaking at the Random House, Inc. Author Luncheon during the 2010 First-Year Experience conference here.

Visit Murray State University’s Freshman Reading Experience webpage here.


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The Last Town on Earth goes to high school

Common reads aren’t just for college freshmen!

Central Catholic High School in Toledo, Ohio has chosen The Last Town on Earth by Thomas Mullen as a campus-wide read. The book, however, is not new to the campus. After hearing about it at nearby Bowling Green State University (where it also has been used as common reading) two years ago, a teacher elected to use the historical novel, which poses ethical questions following the quarantine of a small town during the 1918 flu pandemic, in his classroom each semester. Students even engaged in “Q&A” discussions with the author via e-mail.

Watch the video of Thomas Mullen speaking at the Sixth Annual First-Year Experience Conference in Denver, Colorado here!

The Last Town on Earth is not the only Random House book to make it into high school classrooms. First-Year Experience favorites Mountains Beyond Mountains, Lay That Trumpet in Our Hands, and Funny in Farsi are just a few others with roots in secondary education.

Has common reading made it to your area high schools? What are the high schoolers in your life reading?


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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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Thomas Mullen speaks at First-Year Experience Author Luncheon

We’re back with more video from the First-Year Experience Author Luncheon, which took place at this year’s FYE Conference on February 15th in Denver, Colorado.

Second to speak was Thomas Mullen whose novel, Last Town on Earth , addresses issues of morality and ethical struggle as readers enter a Pacific Northwest town that has quarantined itself during the 1908 flu epidemic. With recent health scares still in the general forefront of most minds, the novel provides a timely yet historically rich story that will get your students talking.

See which programs have adopted Last Town on Earth.

View other videos from the 2010 First-Year Experience Author Luncheon.

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


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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.

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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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