Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Top Ten Tuesday: Back to School Edition

It's back to school time! While my son doesn't go back to elementary school until next week, my sister is starting her junior year of college and I've been thinking about my own college days. Like many other schools, my university had a book that all freshmen read before arriving at school. During the first few weeks, we had lectures and discussions about it and it was a good way to meet some people and get right into the work of learning. So for this week's Top Ten Tuesday, I am going to suggest books that would be excellent books for your Freshman Read!

1. The Kite Runner was the freshman read when I started at Drew University. If you haven't read it yet, it is the story of a wealthy boy named Amir and his best friend and servant Hazara.
Topics for Discussion: Changes in the Middle East in years since the book was written, family, loyalty

2. Daring Greatly is Brene Brown's manifesto on the value of being vulnerable. What better time to learn vulnerability than the posturing of college?
Topics for Discussion: The necessity (or not) of criticism, vulnerability as strength, the different ways men and women face shame and vulnerability, courage in school/work and relationships

3. The Gilded Years is historical fiction based on the true story of Anita Hemmings, the first black woman to graduate from Vassar College.
Topics: Racism, discrimination, evolution of education since 1800s

                   The Kite Runner  Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

4. We Should All Be Feminists is a tiny book, based on a TED talk.
Topics for Discussion: Definition of Feminism, what it means to be a feminist, experiences of male and female students

5. Welcome to Braggsville follows four college students who plan to stage a performance protest at a Civil War reenactment.
Topics for Discussion: Racism, class, education, hero complexes

6. Station Eleven is a post-apocalyptic novel where readers experience the new world through the eyes of a traveling band of musicians and actors.
Topics for Discussion: What is essential to humanity? Do we owe anything to our fellow people? Are the humanities perks or essential for our survival?

                   We Should All Be Feminists    Welcome to Braggsville

7. How We Learn is a book I wish I had read before I went to college. It breaks down learning techniques and shows readers why certain methods work better in certain situations.
Topics for Discussion: Ways that college does and does not set students up for learning, common myths about learning

8. The Empathy Exams is one of my favorite nonfiction books. This collection of essays follows medical actors, gang members, and endurance athletes to discover how we can empathize with people whose situations are very different than ours.
Topics for Discussion: Who is deserving of empathy, what we want from the people around us during dark times, what to do when we don't understand the pain of others

9. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is the true story of a woman whose cells were used to cure dozens of diseases. She had no idea that it happened.
Topics for Discussion: Ethics of medicine, poverty, ethics in journalism

10. Tiny Beautiful Things sounds like a silly pick, but it's actually perfect. It's a collection of advice columns, where Cheryl Strayed answered questions about relationships and dreams for the future.
Topics for Discussion: Pretty much anything and everything

           The Empathy Exams: Essays   The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

What books would you pick for the Freshman Read?


  1. So many great picks! I love the thought of Daring Greatly and Tiny Beautiful Things for freshman - I totally wish I had read them earlier.

    1. Thanks Shannon! I think one of the less-discussed jobs of education is to teach empathy and that would be a great book to help with that.

  2. That's a great list! And yes, Tiny Beautiful Things! It is in no way a silly pick. In fact, when I saw your list, that was the first thing I thought about.

  3. My university didn't have this Freshmen Read thing you mentioned, but I sure wish it did! It sounds amazing, and all these books sound like they would fit the bill perfectly. The ones from your list that I've read were definitely perfect for discussion.

  4. I still have yet to read Tiny Beautiful Things, I heard so many good things about it. Station Eleven would definitely make a good school/classroom read for discussion. Great list!

    My TTT