Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Comedy and Cultural Studies

At first glance a comedian's biography doesn't look like the perfect fit for a Cultural Studies course, but Scott Saul's Becoming Richard Pryor is more than meets the eye. Pryor was one of the most fearless comedians. He confronted stereotypes, challenged Hollywood's treatment of black entertainers, and shared some of his darkest personal experiences with his fans. Becoming Richard Pryor offers students a unique look into one extraordinary man's experience with race in America during the height of counterculture and the Civil Rights movement.

Praise for Becoming Richard Pryor:

"A fascinating, exhilarating read. Saul dives deeper and comes up with more treasure than previous biographers; he deftly traces the stamp that Pryor left on American culture at one of its more impressionable moments...I didn't want to put the book down and couldn't wait to get back to it." —Michael Chabon, bestselling and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and Telegraph Avenue

"With Becoming Richard Pryor, Scott Saul gives us the fullest picture yet of a great and puzzling American figure. What starts as a procedural on the making of an artist becomes a story of a man desperate to be free." —RJ Smith, author of The One: The Life and Music of James Brown

See more about Becoming Richard Pryor here

Friday, December 12, 2014

Did Agriculture Domesticate Humans?

Dr. Yuval Noah Harari is making waves with his revolutionary approach to the history of humankind. In his upcoming book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Dr. Harari goes in depth to discuss some of his most provocative statements about humanity and its dominance. In this month's video Dr. Harari declares that agriculture domesticated humans and not the other way around.

See a brief teaser for Sapiens (on sale 2/10) below!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Preparing for Life After NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Day 19: You're over 30,000 words! Take a moment to just bask in the glow of your awesomeness. Okay, moments over. Let's get back to work!

I regret to inform you that for the final eleven days I will only be checking in with you periodically. Even though I won't be hanging over your shoulder, know that I am always watching...

While I'm gone, I trust that you will be writing like madmen and women to finish your projects! I envision you sitting at your computer (or notebook, or typewriter, or slab of marble and chisel). You've finished your story, filled in your chart (and remembered to tweet us a picture) and you think, "What now?" The answer: it's time to edit!

For my final blog of National Novel Writing Month I present to you, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. The title is pretty self explanatory, but unlike most of the books you'll find on revising your work, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers has cartoons! Don't believe me? See for yourself.

With chapters on dialogue, point of view, voice, and other critical techniques, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers will take you through the same process an expert editor would and help you take your manuscript from rough to polished.

Go forth NaNoWriMo-ers, finish your projects and get a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers here!

Don't forget to track your progress on our chart. Tweet us at @HarperAcademic (by 12/1) when you've hit 50,000 words for your chance to win a HarperCollins bundle of books!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

How to Read Like a Writer

Long before there were creative-writing workshops and degrees, how did aspiring writers learn to write? By reading!! This simple concept is the basis for Francine Prose's Reading Like a Writer.

A prolific writer, Francine Prose is the author of seventeen (Yes that's seventeen!) works of fiction. In Reading Like a Writer, Prose takes book lovers and writers alike on a journey through major works of literature. Along the way, she will teach you how to read carefully, and pay attention to the tools and tricks that turn novels into enduring classics.

Do you want to: create brilliant characters, craft amazing dialogue, and inspire your readers? Then you NEED this helpful guide!

There is no more fundamental rule for being a great writer, you MUST read. I mean, Stephen King says you should read 70-80 books a year. (That's just 1.5 a week! Easy, right?) And if Stephen King and Francine Prose, who have collectively written almost a hundred books, have time to do it, so do you! 

Let Francine Prose's passion and wisdom inspire you to master the art of Reading Like a Writer. Get it here!

Don't forget to track your progress on our chart. Tweet us at @HarperAcademic (by 12/1) when you've hit 50,000 words for your chance to win a HarperCollins bundle of books!

Monday, November 17, 2014

The Difficulties of THE WRITING LIFE

NaNoWriMo Day 17: This weekend was big for you NaNoWriMo-ers, you've surpassed the halfway mark!! Can you believe it? You're just a couple more weeks from victory! On the other hand, you might be thinking. "I've been writing for weeks, how am I only half way?!" Well, if you're in need of some advice and a helpful dose of empathy, it's time to pick up a copy of The Writing Life by Annie Dillard. 

Annie Dillard has written eleven books and understands the struggle that comes with being a writer. In The Writing Life, she discusses the difficult and yet wonderful existence of a writer's life. With stories from her own writing and experiences, she imparts a wealth of wisdom for other writers. Here's how she starts out:

"When you write, you lay out a line of words. The line of words is a miner's pick, a woodcarver's gouge, a surgeon's probe. you wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you just located the real subject? You will know tomorrow...."

The Writing Life, is small but mighty (At just over 100pages, you can make time for it!) and with Dillard's advice on commitment and passion, it will give you the push you need to finish your project.

Get your copy here!

Don't forget to track your progress on our chart. Tweet us at @HarperAcademic (by 12/1) when you've hit 50,000 words for your chance to win a HarperCollins bundle of books!

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Art of the Novel

NaNoWriMo Day 14: If you're keeping on track you should have already hit your 21,000-word mark! You've probably also lost a lot of sleep (and maybe even a little bit of your grip on reality), so it's the perfect time to get philosophical about your work.

I present to you Milan Kundera's The Art of the Novel. In this piece of literary criticism, Kundera examines the evolution, construction, and essence of the novel as an art form through the lens of his own work and through the work of other important and diverse literary figures.

You want to be an "important and diverse literary figure" right? Then get your copy of The Art of the Novel here and get back to work!

Don't forget to track your progress on our chart. Tweet us at @HarperAcademic (by 12/1) when you've hit 50,000 words for your chance to win a HarperCollins bundle of books!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Master the Art of Writing Well

NaNoWriMo Day 13: Okay, so now that you can write an exceptional sentence and plot with the best of Hollywood, it's time to dig in with William Zinsser's On Writing Well. Don't you want to learn how to write well? Of course you do! So get the book here!

Just in case you don't want to just take my word for it (which is only mildly offensive), here are the top five reasons you NEED this valuable resource.

      1. It's based on a course Zinsser taught at Yale. And let's face it, it's far more affordable than attending Yale. 
      2. The fundamentals in On Writing Well have been helping authors for over thirty years!
      3. Why wouldn't you take writing advice from a man who's written over fifteen books! (I know, right? He's making the rest of us look bad.)
      4. This classic guide on writing nonfiction will prepare you to write on just about any topic. Zinsser himself wrote books on topics ranging from jazz to baseball.
      5. On Writing Well has sold over a million copies. That means over a million writers are already one step ahead of you, what are you waiting for?! Get it here!

Don't forget to track your progress on our chart. Tweet us at @HarperAcademic (by 12/1) when you've hit 50,000 words for your chance to win a HarperCollins bundle of books!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Storytelling Master is Here to Help

NaNoWriMo Day 11: Now that Stanley Fish has given you the key to conquering sentences, let's talk about the next step in the process, the story. And no one knows story better than Robert McKee. I know what you're thinkg, "Robert McKee is a screenwriting expert. Can he even help me with my novel?" The answer, oh grasshopper, is YES! "How can this be?" You may ask, to which I reply, "Quit asking questions, I'm getting there."

Screenplays are the skeleton structure on which film narratives take shape, they include only the bare bones of the story (plot points, dialogue, and a few descriptions). So, if you can master the structure of your story in terms of a screenplay narrative, you're well on your way to writing a super detailed novel outline. 

In Robert McKee's seminars (an industry must) he provides attendees with the most comprehensive explanation of the craft of writing for the screen. One of the main principles of writing for the screen is "show, don't tell." In a script there are no helpful internal monologues or full paragraphs of explanation to help readers (or audiences) understand your characters, you are forced to rely on the visual; a skill that will take your novel writing to the next level.

If you can't hop on a plane right now and fly to the current Story Seminar, then boy do I have news for you. You can get a copy of Story right here!

This film industry staple will help you learn the ins-and-outs of story construction, style, and the relationship between structure and character that are essential for writing a great narrative. Mastering the craft of great storytelling will transform your work. As McKee puts it "Anxious, inexperienced writers obey the rules. Rebellious, unschooled writers break the rules. Artists master the form."

Now get out there and master the form!

Get your copy of Story here and don't forget to track your progress on our chart. Tweet us at @HarperAcademic (by 12/1) when you've hit 50,000 words for your chance to win a HarperCollins bundle of books!

Monday, November 10, 2014

"If You Know Sentences, You Know Everything" & The Secret to NaNoWriMo Success

NaNoWriMo is well under way, and if you've been sticking to the plan you hit your 15,000-word mark yesterday! Congratulations, you are a writing rock star! But even with 15,000 words under your belt, it can sometimes feel like you've hit a wall. The self-doubt sits like a monster on your shoulder trying to distract you from the goal. Don't let it! Remember, writing is just putting one word right after the other. And, if after that nugget of wisdom you're still struggling, then it's time to revisit the basics.

Fear not, Stanley Fish's New York Times-bestselling How to Write a Sentence is here for you. According to Fish, "If you know sentences, you know everything." Wouldn't it feel great to know everything? Then grab a copy of this book!
In his entertaining work, Fish offers lessons on both the structure and style of sentences, skills that are invaluable to any writer. His vibrant analysis takes you on a literary tour of great writers throughout history—from William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Henry James to Martin Luther King Jr., Antonin Scalia, and Elmore Leonard. How to Write a Sentence is your key to unlocking the secret of how great writing works.

What are you waiting for? Get a copy here and get back to writing!

AND Don't forget to track your progress on our chart and when you hit 50,000 words tweet us a picture at @HarperAcademic and use #HCNaNoWriMo for your chance to win a copy of  5 amazing books on writing including How to Write a Sentence!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Can You Write a Novel in 30 Days?

November is National Novel Writing Month! (AKA NaNoWriMo) If you're participating, regardless of whether you are partaking yourself or encouraging your students to challenge themselves, HarperAcademic will be here holding your hand through the whole painful (just kiddingfun!!) process.

HarperCollins is lucky to have a whole heap of amazingly helpful books for writers, and throughout the month I will recommend books such as Stanley Fish's How to Write a Sentence and The Elements of Story by Francis Flaherty to help and encourage you.

With inspirational quotes (and maybe a little tough love), I will support your crazy endeavor to write 50,000 words in 30 days! I know 50,000 words can seem daunting but that's why we made you this nifty chart

Use our chart to track your progress and when you hit 50,000 words tweet us a picture like the one below to show off your success. On December 2nd, four randomly selected winners will receive a bundle of five HarperCollins titles to serve as inspiration for re-writes! Be sure to follow us at @HarperAcademic and use #HCNaNoWriMo (try saying that ten times fast!).

So what are you waiting for? Go print out your HarperAcademic chart and get writing!

4 people will receive a bundle of 5 HarperCollins titles (How to Write a Sentence, The Elements of Story, On Writing Well, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, and The Art of the Novel). Offer is valid in the US only. Books will be shipped to US addresses only. Offer will expire on 12/1/2014. All winners will be notified by 12/2/2014.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Get Your Students Involved with the Profile in Courage Essay Contest!

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation invites U.S. high school students to participate in The Profile in Courage Essay Contest. Students are asked to write an essay on an act of political courage by a U.S. elected official who served during or after 1956. The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest challenges students to grapple with the big ideas in Kennedy's Profiles in Courage: "What is political courage? Which elected officials have risked their careers to take a stand for what is right?" With important themes and an opportunity to combine social studies and English courses, this annual contest is a wonderful way to turn an essay assignment into an opportunity for meaningful reflection, rigorous research and effecting writing. 

The foundation's website is filled with helpful information for teachers and tips for preparing and writing a winning essay.

Your students will find inspiring stories in John F. Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning Profiles in Courage.

The first-place winner receives $10,000. Contest deadline: January 5, 2015. For more information on the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and the Profile in Courage Essay Contest click here!

Monday, October 20, 2014

How the Invention of Fire Paved the Way to the Atom Bomb!

Dr. Yuval Noah Harari is making waves with his revolutionary approach to the history of humankind. In his upcoming book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Dr. Harari goes in depth to discuss some of his most provocative statements about humanity and its dominance. In the video below Dr. Harari explains how the invention of fire moved humans up the food chain and paved the way for the Atom Bomb. 

See a brief teaser for Sapiens (on sale 2/10) below!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

OUR TOWN opens today in New Haven, CT

Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, CT opens its 50th Anniversary season with Thornton Wilder's classic Our Town. The show will be directed by Gordon Edelstein, run until November 2nd and Tappan Wilder will host a talk-back following tomorrow night's performance! 

If you would like to attend the talk or another performance you can buy your tickets online here or call the Long Wharf Theatre at 203-787-4282.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Top 5 Non Fiction Books for Teens and Tweens!

Homeschooling expert Kathy Ceceri recently published a list of the "Top Nonfiction Picks for Teens and Tweens" to use in homeschooling. Keneth C. Davis' Don't Know Much About Mythology and Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's Freakonomics made the list! 

See more on this list here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The College of Saint Rose to Host Marc Spitz, author of TWEE

Frequency North, the visiting writers reading series at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, has added a talk by Marc Spitz—author of Twee: The Gentle Revolution in Music,Books, Television, Fashion, and Film—to  their “aggressively eclectic” lineup of events.

Twee is the definitive history of the hugely prevalent, old-fashioned and yet highly modern “twee” movement. Focusing on its origins and hallmarks, Spitz charts the rise of this trend from its forefathers like Disney, Salinger, Plath, Seuss, Sendak, Blume, and Jonathan Richman, to its underground roots in the post-punk United Kingdom, through the late 80s and early 90s of K Records, Whit Stillman, Nirvana, Wes Anderson, Pitchfork, This American Life, and Belle and Sebastian, to the current (and sometimes polarizing) appeal of Girls, Arcade Fire, Rookie magazine, and hellogiggles.com.

Here are the details for Marc’s visit (which is, like all Frequency North events, open to the public)
When: 7:30 pm, Thursday, November 6
Where: The College of Saint Rose, Saint Joseph Hall Auditorium, 985 Madison Ave., Albany, NY

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS is now Common Core Ready!

Our free Common Core-aligned Teacher's Guide for Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie is now available!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Join us all week for trivia questions and your chance to win a free HarperCollins book!

In honor of Banned Books Week, HarperAcademic will be giving away some of our beloved banned and challenged books. Follow us at @HarperAcademic for trivia questions today through Friday the 26th, reply to us with your answer and #BannedBooksWeek for your chance to win a free book!

We will be giving away two books a day to two randomly selected winners, eligible in the United States only.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How Are You Celebrating Constitution Day?

In honor of Constitution Day TED-Ed, the educational arm of TED, has compiled four TED-Ed lessons devoted to the signing and creation of the US Constitution. As part of these lessons, Kenneth C. Davis, author of the Don't Know Much About series, provides an interesting look into the creation of the executive branch and the role of the president. Check out the full lesson and brush up on your Constitution knowledge here!

Friday, September 12, 2014

How do history and biology define us?

Dr. Yuval Noah Harari is making waves with his revolutionary approach to the history of humankind. In his upcoming book Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Dr. Harari explains that of the six different species of humans that inhabited Earth over a hundred thousand years ago Homo sapiens survived "because it is the only animal that can believe in things that exist purely in its own imagination." This provocative statement is just the foundation of the innovative perspective Dr. Harari is bringing to the discussion. See a brief teaser for Sapiens (on sale 2/10) below!

Monday, September 8, 2014

A New History of the Civil War: Four Female Spies

Karen Abbott's Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy tells the story of four courageous women who became spies during the Civil War. Based on primary source material and interviews with the descendants of the spies, Abbott brings the incredible adventures to life with a fascinating cast of real-life characters, black-and-white photos, and maps. This little known piece of history is already grabbing the attention of many including a featured list on Buzzfeed.com. And, Erik Larson said, "With this book, Karen Abbott declares herself the John le Carré of Civil War espionage--with the added benefit that the saga she tells is all true and beautifully researched." Start reading now!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Kenneth C. Davis discusses the importance and history of the Labor Day weekend

While most of us were enjoying the end of summer with barbeques and other outdoor activities, Kenneth C. Davis, author of the Don't Know Much About series, sat down with the CBS This Morning co-hosts to remind us what the holiday really means in terms of our Nation's history.

Click here for the full explanation and be sure to follow Kenneth's blog!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Congratulations Robert Hass!

Pulitzer Prize-winner and former poet laureate Robert Hass will be honored October 17th with the 2014 Wallace Stevens Award. The Academy of American Poets awards this $100,000 poetry prize annually to an outstanding writer who has proven mastery in the art of poetry. Hass, the author of Time and Materials, has previously been honored with a National Book Award, two National Book Critics Circle Awards, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the William Carlos Williams Award. 

For more information on Robert Hass and his work visit poets.org.

Friday, August 22, 2014

New Common Core-aligned Teaching Guides Available!

Our free Common Core-aligned Teaching Guides are multiplying! We've just added Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None and Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Congratulations Louise Erdrich!

Louise Erdrich, a HarperCollins author and owner of Birchbark Books & Native Arts in Minnesota, will be awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize's Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award on November 9!

Erdrich is being honored for an extensive body of work (including Love Medicine, Tracks and the 2012 National Book Award-winner The Round House) that promotes peace, understanding, and social justice. 

You can start reading The Round House now.

Friday, August 15, 2014


Our free Common Core-aligned Teacher's Guide for How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas C. Foster is now available!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Celebrate Harper Perennial and Win a FREE BOOK!

Harper Perennial is turning 50! To celebrate their half-century of literary excellence, they have released a beautiful collection of limited edition covers. If you play trivia with us tomorrow (Aug 14th), one of these beautiful Olive Editions (and a bonus 50th Anniversary Tote) could be yours!

How It Works:
Follow @HarperAcademic starting at 10am EST on 8/14/14. Every hour on the hour until 4pm EST I will post a quote from one of the special edition books. Tweet back to guess which book the quote is from using the #OliveEditions and you will be entered to win one of the beautiful limited edition titles. Winners will be randomly selected (out of hat style) so, the more you enter the better chance you have to win!

Follow Harper Perennial here for up-to-date excitement as they celebrate their 50th year!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

FYE Memoir Title - Twitter Contest

FYE Memoir Title Twitter Contest Rules!

Starting at 3pm EST I will give contestants one hour to come up with the most creative/clever/funny memoir titles. Tweet us your titles to @HarperAcademic. At 4pm EST our panel of esteemed judges (HarperAcademic employees) will vote on the best entries and the winners will get a free book from a small selection of our First-Year Experience titles!

Remember that we can only ship to contestants in the US and PLEASE keep your responses appropriate, if your response is inappropriate you will be disqualified. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Remembering Pulitzer Prize-winning author James MacGregor Burns

Pulitzer Prize-winning author James MacGregor Burns passed away this week at the age of 95. Winner of the National Book Award in History and Biography, Burns was a passionate writer and political scientist. His biographies of major presidents, including his award-winning Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom, took a detailed look at leadership and the role of the president.

Burns was fervent in his beliefs on national reform and his criticisms of America's governmental systems are still applicable in today's political debates. He was allowed unfettered access to some of the nation's most influential men as an informal adviser to many presidents.

His book Leadership continues to be taught in classrooms around the country, and it hasn't been out of print since its publication in 1971. His theory on transformational leadership has been the basis of more than 400 doctoral dissertations.

You'll learn more about James MacGregor Burns in his obituary in the New York Times.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Neil Gaiman in Your Classroom

OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil GaimanOur free Common Core-aligned teacher's guide for Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane is now available!

Neil himself said it is "really excellent."

Are you looking for nonfiction for your English class?

If your students are reading novels such as Johnny Tremain and Drums Along the Mohawk, add a look at the heroines of the period with Cokie Roberts' Founding Mothers: The Women Who Raised Our Nation. We've got a FREE ebook for teachers that includes a sample chapter and a Common Core-aligned teaching guide.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Free Common Core-Aligned Teaching Guides

Our free ebooks for teachers contain a sample chapter and a complete common core-aligned teaching guide.

We hope they'll help you decide which books are right for you and your students.

You'll find a complete selection here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Remembering Lillian B. Rubin

Influential author Lillian B. Rubin passed away June 17th at the age of 90. She was the author of many bestselling and significant titles including: Worlds of Pain: Life in the Working-Class Family, Women of a Certain Age, Families on the Fault Line, The Transcendent Child, Intimate Strangers and Just Friends. A sociologist and psychotherapist, Dr. Rubin dedicated her life's work to exploring issues related to gender, class, aging and how social authorities worked to limit individuals' expectations of themselves. 

The daughter of Ukrainian immigrants, Dr. Rubin didn't enroll in college until the age of 39. After receiving her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, she spent the rest of her career searching for what "success in life" meant and sharing her findings and discussions in texts and articles. Her books have been part of college curriculums for decades and will continue to influence students for decades to come. 

For more information on Lillian B. Rubin visit her website here or read some of her articles at Salon.com. To read her obituary in the New York Times, click here.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Common Core Cluster-THE AMERICAN WEST

American expansion into the West is an integral part of the history of the United States as a nation. From outlaws and lawmen to Native Americans, the history of the American West is filled with personal tales of struggle and accomplishment that helped make up the identity of the nation as a whole.

Thrilling fiction titles like The Son, The Orchardist, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Worthy Brown's Daughter bring the Wild West into startling view with tales of harsh ungoverned lands. These books paired with the non-fiction titles of To Hell on a Fast Horse, Astoria, Shot All To Hell and Chief Joseph give students a glimpse into a critical part of our nation's history. 

Sample Discussion Questions:

Compare and contrast the imagined life of Jesse James in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford to the life of Jesse James presented in Shot All to Hell.

What impact did the outlaws from To Hell on a Fast Horse and Shot All to Hell have on American History?

How do the difficult living conditions in the West described in Astoria and Chief Joseph compare to the conditions described in The Son and The Orchardist?

Discuss the differences in the Nez Perce people described in Chief Joseph and the Comanche tribe Eli finds himself a part of in The Son.

What effects did the "lawlessness" of the West have on the early settlers? Use Worthy Brown's Daughter and To Hell on a Fast Horse to support your answers.

Compare Matthew Penny's journey to Oregon from Worthy Brown's Daughter in 1860 with the expedition taken by the men from Astoria in 1810.

What similarities can you draw between the characters in The Orchardist and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Common Core Cluster - SCIENCE VS NATURE

From the dawn of scientific discovery scientists have ventured beyond imagination reaching farther into space, deeper into Earth's core and unlocking many of the mysteries surrounding human life. The question for scientists today (and for the future) is no longer can we, but should we--a questions long echoed within literature. Before DNA profiling, GPS location and cloning, there was Victor Frankenstein and his monster. From her imagination, Mary Shelley created a mad scientist whose personage would be reflected again and again in cautionary stories of man attempting to control nature. 

These thought-provoking stories are not only wildly entertaining for students, but carry with them important discussion topics for the future of science as we know it. The non-fiction titles in this Common Core cluster help compliment these classic tales with the both positive and unsettling real-world implications. The imaginations of Aldus Huxley, Mary Shelley and Michael Crichton emphasize ethical questions echoed in What Should We Be Worried About?, Present at the Future, Clone, and Radioactive

Sample Discussion Questions:
Discuss the advances in science as they relate to the society described in Brave New World.

Of the many predictions described in Next, which have come to pass and which do scientists believe are on the horizon according to Clone and Present at the Future?

Victor Frankenstein set out to advance science, and through the course his obsession created a monster. How does Frankenstein's journey relate to Marie Curie and the controversial invention of nuclear power?

What role does science play in The Andromeda Strain? Is it wholly positive or negative? Use examples from the non-fiction titles to support your answer.

Pick one of the essays in What Should We Be Worried About? and discuss your thoughts as they relate to one of the fiction titles.

For more information on this Common Core cluster and more be sure to visit our Common Core site! Click here for more on Brave New World, Frankenstein, Next, The Andromeda Strain, What Should We Be Worried About?, Present at the Future, Clone and Radioactive.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


Current events have always played a major role in the education of students, and for the current generation, the relationship between the United States and the Middle East dominates the news cycle. The United States has been involved in the Middle East for years--and though the US military withdrew from Iraq in 2011 the conflict between nations remains a significant factor in the current political climate. During the occupation of Iraq from the invasion in March 2003 until December of 2011 countless young men and women were thrust into hostile territories and faced with difficult decisions and heartbreaking losses. Controversy over the invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq has become and will continue to be a necessary conversation among American citizens.

With the exploration of non-fiction titles like The Secret History of the Iraq War, Code Name: Johnny Walker, Understanding Iraq and All American, students can delve into the history and controversy of the war while gaining emotional insight from the fictional characters in titles like Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Purple Heart and Carthage

Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk has been adopted into many courses and was recently adopted into a required English class of 600 students at the Air Force Academy. Likewise, the demand for All American in courses has risen since its publication, including an adoption as Louisiana Tech's freshman year common read.

Sample Discussion Questions
  • What questions, challenges, and opportunities does William R. Polk predict for the future of the relationship between Iraq and America in Understanding Iraq? How do those predictions from 2005 compare to the current climate between nations?
  • How does the story of the Iraqi interpreter in Code Name: Johnny Walker compare to the story of the American soldiers in All American?
  • In what ways do the young men in All American relate to the fictional war hero Billy Lynn? What do their personal stories add to your understanding of the occupation as a whole?
  • In Carthage, Joyce Carol Oates examines the difficulties that returning war veterans face, asking the question, "Is it ever possible to come home again?" Discuss the answer to this question after reading Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk, Purple Heart, and All American.
  • Discuss the issues raised in The Secret History of the Iraq War regarding the intelligence community as it compares with the history presented in Understanding Iraq.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Nadia Hashimi Discusses Women's Rights in Afghanistan

One of the issues at the forefront of next month's Afghani presidential election is women's rights. The Huffington Post did a piece last Thursday on the issue of Afghani women's rights both during and after this crucial election. They asked the Afghan-American author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell, Nadia Hashimi to participate in the conversation and offer her unique perspective on the ongoing discussion. During the piece, Hashimi expressed the motivation behind her debut novel, which follows three generations of women in an Afghanistan family. She discussed her desire to examine the generation gap among Afghani citizens and how the gender issues over the last three generations have changed very little. 

To hear Hashimi's thoughts on the upcoming election and what it means for Afghani women, click here. And click here to read more about The Pearl That Broke Its Shell.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Summer Reading Lists Are Finally Here!

It's Finally May! Which means the school year is winding down to an end and schools are posting their summer reading lists! The Academic Marketing Department finds this an exciting time of year because we can learn what trends are developing and how we are stacking up against the competition on those required summer reading lists. 

The exciting trend this summer is for administrators to assign a long list of fantastic titles for their students to pick from and complete their assignments. From these lists, we can see how schools are balancing the entertainment of summer reading with their educational goals.

One of the biggest trends we've seen over the past years is the departure from older, more challenging classic titles to contemporary and popular titles. For instance, most of the big summer movies for 2014 are based on Young Adult novels, including Divergent, The Fault in Our Stars, and The Maze Runner and these popular titles have made their way onto many high school required summer reading lists. This spring and summer most of Hollywood's biggest productions are based on novels, so naturally many of the novels assigned have a film counterpart. This works in favor of those modern classics students can already recognize by name, like this year's 12 Years a Slave

Some of the most popular titles this summer include modern classics like The Catcher in the Rye, To Kill A Mockingbird, Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451, Agatha Christie titles, Lord of the Flies, 1984 Animal Farm, Our Town, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Of Mice and Men, The Bell Jar, Slaughterhouse-Five, and Nickel and Dimed. However, the most popular titles were more contemporary, for instance: the New York Times bestselling How To Read Literature Like A Professor, The Alchemist, The Book Thief, Divergent, Speak, The Glass Castle, The Round House, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-time Indian, Enders Game, The Road, First They Killed My Father, The Kite Runner, and even a slight resurgence of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

Here are some examples of required summer reading lists and assignments across the country!

A Students Essential Guide to NYC!

Last month marked the release of Nathan W. Pyle's NYC Basic Tips & Etiquette. An Ohio transplant, Pyle has decided that after four and a half years in New York, he would share the lessons he's learned with the rest of the world. Pyle used his artistic skills as an illustrator and T-shirt designer to bring his rules and tips to life. Each quirky panel demonstrates the must-know etiquette for surviving in a city of eight million people. This fun and entertaining book has turned into a sensation and is even serving as a how-to guide for ESL students and college freshman. Just this month Hunter College in NYC has adopted NYC Basic Tips & Etiquette for its incoming freshman. 
The value of this book cannot be underestimated, when I moved to New York a year ago to participate in a post-grad summer school class, I would have loved to find all the unwritten rules of New York laid out in such a convenient and humourous way! It is perfect for international students, who will undoubtedly feel the culture shock of moving to the United States, and all the incoming students who will find that the culture of New York is one all its own.

For more information on Nathan W. Pyle, click here. To see more about NYC Basic Tips & Etiquette, check out its Facebook Page

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Can Your Students THINK LIKE A FREAK?

Think Like a Freak By Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. DubnerNew York Times-bestselling authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner single-handedly showed the world that applying economic theory and big data to everyday problems can bear surprising results. Think Like a Freak will take students further inside their special thought process, revealing a new way of approaching the decisions we make, the plans we create, and the morals we choose. It answers the questions on the lips of everyone who’s read the previous books: How can I apply these ideas to my life? How do I make smarter, better decisions? How can I truly think like a freak?

In a video they made especially for college professors, Dubner describes their surprise when they realized that Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics were being taught in schools across the country. In the academic department, we get multiple requests every day for the password to our teaching materials (which can be found here). Their new book—which teaches students to think more creatively and more rationally—might be the most suited to the needs of young college students, especially those in their first year who are being challenged to think in a very different way than high school required.

To read more about the book, you can browse inside it here.