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Old 08-22-2010, 11:56 AM   #1
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What should College Freshmen be Reading?

There was an article in today's Parade:

2. What Should College Freshmen Be Reading?
Many colleges now assign all incoming freshman one book to read before classes begin. While conservative scholars complain that the schools’ choices are insufficiently rigorous, administrators say they’re meant to serve as ice-breakers, not course material. These five nonfiction titles are popular among colleges this fall.

Enrique’s Journey, Sonia Nazario.
A 17-year-old boy risks his life traveling from his native Honduras to the U.S. in search of his mother, who left when he was 5.

The Soloist, Steve Lopez. In this memoir turned movie, a journalist befriends a homeless violinist and tries to help him find success onstage.

Zeitoun, Dave Eggers. A New Orleans resident who stays behind after Hurricane Katrina is arrested and accused of belonging to Al-Qaeda.

This I Believe, Jay Allison and Dan Gediman, eds. The editors collected essays from the National Public Radio series about people’s guiding values.

The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan. A critical look at the American food chain from cornfield to factory farm to drive-thru window.

That all look pretty interesting! Not sure about ebooks....
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Old 08-22-2010, 12:03 PM   #2
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I have to confess that I've never heard of any of them!
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Old 08-22-2010, 12:14 PM   #3
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I recognize three. Heard Public Radio pieces on the Soloist, and This I Believe.

And Harry must not be a foodie.. All us foodies know Mr. Pollan. I have three of his books and they are all interesting reads.

Last edited by jgaiser; 08-22-2010 at 12:16 PM. Reason: Need to preview more carefully!
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Old 08-22-2010, 12:16 PM   #4
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All the books seem to have a distinctly American theme; perhaps it's simply that they are better known in the US than here in the UK.
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Old 08-22-2010, 12:23 PM   #5
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Harry, Harry, and they say Americans are navel gazers. Glad to know it goes the other way some times.

Here's the Kindle Edition of "This I Believe" http://www.amazon.com/This-Believe-P...=AG56TWVU5XWC2

The Soloist was the book that the movie was based on:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0821642/
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Old 08-22-2010, 12:41 PM   #6
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Just bought "This I Believe" from Amazon....looks wonderful!
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Old 08-22-2010, 12:44 PM   #7
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It's a bit of an odd list. What could you expect the reasonably educated youth to acquire knowledge about? I'd have thought you would want to cover :
The Cosmos. Sagan or Hawking
Life and how it works. Steve Jones's rewrite of 'The Origin' - Almost Like A Whale
The history of our species. McNeill and McNeill's 'The Human Web: a Bird's-eye View of World History
Urban living - John Reader's 'Cities'
The problems we need to solve - Diamond's 'Collapse' is an obvious candidate.
For fiction, leave them to their own devices. They'll find the books they need.
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Old 08-22-2010, 02:20 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarryT View Post
I have to confess that I've never heard of any of them!
Neither have I.

Anyways, I got assigned When the Rivers Run Dry: Water--The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century (I think they sent me the copy) but I never read it and it never came up, except perhaps as a half-hearted "did you/anybody read the book?" to which the response was in the negative. As long as these books are meant as nothing more than light ice-breakers, I would recommend "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character as something that is enjoyable to both read and talk about.
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Old 08-22-2010, 02:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Neither have I.

Anyways, I got assigned When the Rivers Run Dry: Water--The Defining Crisis of the Twenty-First Century (I think they sent me the copy) but I never read it and it never came up, except perhaps as a half-hearted "did you/anybody read the book?" to which the response was in the negative. As long as these books are meant as nothing more than light ice-breakers, I would recommend "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!": Adventures of a Curious Character as something that is enjoyable to both read and talk about.
Particularly for science/physics majors.
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Old 08-22-2010, 02:47 PM   #10
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What should college freshmen be reading? As much as possible about as many different subjects as possible. That is the time to find out what interests you, and a good way to do that is read about a variety of subject.
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Old 08-22-2010, 03:07 PM   #11
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All the books seem to have a distinctly American theme; perhaps it's simply that they are better known in the US than here in the UK.
They also all sound like they have a distinctly liberal theme, from the American view of liberalism. Seems like overtly political choices. (I've also never heard of any of them.)
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Old 08-22-2010, 04:09 PM   #12
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Old 08-22-2010, 04:10 PM   #13
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I can't for the life of me remember what they made me read my freshman year.. I think there was a short story and a clip from the Elephant Man?

Anyway, I think a book assigned to incoming freshmen should be memorable, accessible, and engaging to be useful. I think excerpts from Justice: What's the Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel could be great. Or maybe Go Tell It On the Mountain by James Baldwin. Above all, it must be a book worth discussing.
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Old 08-22-2010, 06:46 PM   #14
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I havenʻt heard of any of those either. As an incoming freshman back in the day, we had to read Homerʻs Odyssey.
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Old 08-22-2010, 06:52 PM   #15
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I havenʻt heard of any of those either. As an incoming freshman back in the day, we had to read Homerʻs Odyssey.
Another example of an educator pushing the popular new book?
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