Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"Popcorn for the Brain"? There's an App for That

Now entering its third month as a New York Times bestseller, SuperFreakonomics has also begun to appear on many “best of 09” lists just in time to close out the New Year. Levitt and Dubner’s follow-up to the explosively popular Freakonomics was selected as a Powell’s staff pick, as well as being listed on Best Business book lists from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Bloomberg.com. Authors Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner also shared the number four spot on Canada’s National Post list of the ten smartest people of the decade (a list that includes Barack Obama, Oprah, and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin).

Both students and non-students, it seems, are interested in the Freakonomics approach to analyzing data and trends. James Pressley at Bloomberg.com says, “Offbeat economics are like popcorn for the brain; I can never get too much.”

If you, like Pressley, can’t get enough of these brain teaser economics, there’s now an iPhone app based on the Ultimatum and Dictator games described in the third chapter of SuperFreakonomics. For more information about the app, visit The Freakonomics Blog on the New York Times’s website.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Documentary Based On A People’s History Of The United States To Air On The History Channel This Sunday

A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn is frequently adopted in history courses because of the clear and comprehensive overview provided of its vast and diverse subject matter. From Columbus to Clinton, Zinn chronicles many of the key players and events that have shaped American history.

Combining lucid, lively prose with scholarly research, Howard Zinn’s book approaches American history from the perspective of traditionally underrepresented groups like women and minorities, as opposed to a more traditional study of great men in power.

“The People Speak,” a documentary based on Howard Zinn’s book will air on The History Channel on this Sunday, December 13th at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time/7:00 p.m. Central time. It features performers such as Marisa Tomei, Josh Brolin, Viggo Mortensen, and Sandra Oh recreating many of the historical moments that Zinn describes in his book.

If you are interested in adopting this book for a class, you may order an exam copy. If you have already ordered the book for a class, please order a complimentary desk copy.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

REVOLUTION IN MIND

George J. Makari's Revolution in Mind: The Creation of Psychoanalysis has been awarded the 2009 Heinz Hartmann Award by the New York Psychoanalytic Society. I'm pleased and proud--but not surprised: The book has received terrific reviews--and--at the American Psychological Association--I overhead several people saying that "It's the best book on Freud."

Dr. Makari will accept the award on February 9th--and give a public lecture at 8:15 pm.

If you've decided to adopt Revolution in Mind for one of you classes--please request a desk copy.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

LIT: A MEMOIR by Mary Karr Named One of the 10 Best Books of 2009 by the New York Times Book Review

Congratulations to Mary Karr. Her book Lit: A Memoir, was named one of the ten best books of 2009 by the New York Times Book Review ("This sequel to The Liars’ Club and Cherry is also a master class on the art of the memoir. Mordantly funny, free of both self-pity and sentimentality, Karr describes her attempts to untether herself from her troubled family in rural Texas, her development as a poet and writer, and her struggles to navigate marriage and young motherhood even as she descends into alcoholism.”).

If you are interested in adopting Lit: A Memoir for a class, you may order an exam copy. If you have already ordered the book for a class, please order a complimentary desk copy.

The video below features the amazing Mary Karr explaining why she wrote Lit: A Memoir.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Simple Click of the Mouse: HarperAcademic Online Catalogs and Ordering Desk Copies

There are many occasions during the working week when I sit in my office and give thanks for the Internet since it truly makes many aspects of performing my job a much easier task. Here at HarperAcademic we eagerly embrace the brave new world of technology, as I am sure you do in the world of academia. We have recently begun placing our subject area catalogs on this blog as downloadable online pdfs and the response has been enormous. All of the catalogs include links to related resource content on the web to provide a fluid interactive experience that goes beyond the traditional printed catalog. And, of course, they are kinder to the environment than printed catalogs, making them the perfect documents for these carbon footprint conscious times.

If you have yet to experience the joys of HarperAcademic's online catalogs, then why wait any longer? You can discover the works of the world's most influential minds such as Martin Heidegger in the Philosophy catalog; learn all you ever needed to know about writing that novel you've been putting off forever from writing mavens such as William Zinsser in the Writing Guides catalog; and go green and eat only locally-grown produce for one year with Barbara Kingsolver in the Environmental Studies catalog.

Finally, I have saved the best for last. If you decide that you would like to assign our books as a required text in your classroom, you can easily order desk copies online. Isn't technology wonderful?

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Visual Miscellaneum: A Colorful Guide to the World's Most Consequential Trivia

I came across David McCandless’s The Visual Miscellaneum after receiving a request from a professor planning to use it in her Information Graphics class. Since then I’ve become increasingly engrossed in the variety of charts and graphs filled with random, helpful, humorous and timely information.

Using minimal text, this book offers different ways to visualize data on almost every conceivable subject. The Visual Miscellaneum presents an immense variety of graphics including bubble diagrams, treemaps, flowcharts, wordclouds, coxcombs and many, many more. These illustrations cover topics from the serious to the frivolous, among them:

- The popularity of certain world religions
- Which animal species are most endangered
- The most commonly cited reasons for breaking up with someone (featuring the surprisingly popular “I don’t clip my toenails enough”)
- The answer provided by different theories to the question “what is consciousness?”

With its highly engaging visual style and informative presentation of data, The Visual Miscellaneum can be a great addition for classes on media, information, graphics, and visual studies. (It would also make a great gift for fellow nerds and data junkies.) To see a few excerpts from the book, be sure to look at the author’s website.

If you are interested in adopting the text for a class, you may order an exam copy. If you have already ordered the book for a class, please order a complimentary desk copy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rediscover a Classic: THE SHELTERING SKY

I'm always surprised by how many people haven't read Paul Bowles's The Sheltering Sky. After all, it's on Time magazine's All-Time 100 Novels list--along with Beloved and A Passage to India.

When The Sheltering Sky was first published in 1949, it established Paul Bowles as one of the most singular and promising writers of the postwar generation. Its startlingly original vision has withstood the test of time and confirmed Tennessee Williams's early estimation: "The Sheltering Sky alone of the books that I have . . . read by American authors appears to bear the spiritual imprint of recent history in the western world." In this classic work of psychological terror, Bowles examines the ways in which Americans apprehend an alien culture and the ways in which their incomprehension destroys them.

You can read the first chapter here.

And, here's a clip from Bernardo Bertolucci's film to further whet your appetite.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Author Loung Ung Joins Voluntourism Organization in Cambodia

Pepy tours, an organization that organizes socially responsible “voluntourism” (volunteerism+ tourism) trips has recently announced that author Loung Ung will join an upcoming cross-Cambodia bicycle tour. Ms. Ung is the author of the First They Killed My Father, a book Dith Pran called, “an eloquent and powerful narrative [written] as a young witness to the Khmer Rouge atrocities.”

Mixing a love of her home country with a socially responsible project is a great venue for Ms. Ung. Aside from being an accomplished memoirist, she is a human rights activist and spokesperson for the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, where she continually works to raise awareness about issues affecting many Cambodians.

PEPY Tours has posted information about this trip on their website. They are excited to welcome Loung to the team, as she will bring further insight and education to the group about the issues that have shaped Cambodia and the realities in the country today.

To learn more about Loung Ung’s memoir, click here. If you have adopted this book for your class, please order a complimentary desk copy. If you’d like to request an examination copy, please click here.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Searching for Whitopia: An Improbable Journey to the Heart of White America

People have always built barricades to keep out "others." Forts, castles with moats, the Great Wall of China come to mind. Today, we lock our doors, punch in security codes, set up video cameras--and many white Americans choose to live in predominantly white communities.

Between 2007 and 2009, Rich Benjamin, a journalist-adventurer, packed his bags and embarked on a 26,909-mile journey throughout the heart of white America, to some of the fastest-growing and whitest locales in our nation. The result was Searching for Whitopia.

By 2042, whites will no longer be the American majority. As immigrant populations--largely people of color--increase in cities and suburbs, more and more whites are moving to small towns and exurban areas that are predominately, even extremely, white.

Rich Benjamin calls these enclaves "Whitopias" (pronounced: "White-o-pias"). His journey to unlock the mysteries of Whitopias took him from a three-day white separatist retreat with links to Aryan Nations in North Idaho to the inner sanctum of George W. Bush's White House--and many points in between. And to learn what makes Whitopias tick, and why and how they are growing, he lived in three of them (in Georgia, Idaho, and Utah) for several months apiece. A compelling raconteur, bon vivant, and scholar, Benjamin reveals what Whitopias are like and explores the urgent social and political implications of this startling phenomenon.

The glow of Barack Obama's historic election cannot obscure the racial and economic segregation still vexing America. Obama's presidency has actually raised the stakes in a battle royale between two versions of America: one that is broadly comfortable with diversity yet residentially segregated (ObamaNation) and one that does not mind a little ethnic food or a few mariachi dancers--as long as these trends do not overwhelm a white dominant culture (Whitopia).

A sought after speaker, Rich Benjamin lectures on contemporary American politics and culture in the U.S. and Europe and has spoken at esteemed venues such as University of Pennsylvania Law School, Stockholm University, Sweden, the Fulbright Program/Institute for International Education, Brown University, the Exeter Academy, Seattle’s Town Hall, and California’s Commonwealth Club. To book Benjamin for a speaking engagement, contact Jamie Brickhouse via email or by phone (212 207 7136).



Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Fresh, New Look for Betsy-Tacy!

One of the things I love most about working in publishing is being exposed to new books I might not have otherwise read. This job has introduced me great authors from Jonathan Safran Foer to Meg Cabot, and most recently, Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the Betsy-Tacy novels.

These novels about a young girl named Betsy and her friends Tacy and Tib growing up in Minnesota at the turn of the 20th century have inspired the dedication of legions of fans. There are yearly Betsy-Tacy conventions in Lovelace’s hometown of Mankato, Minnesota organized by the
Betsy-Tacy Society, a community of women dedicated to preserving the spirit of these books. Harper Perennial editor Jennifer Hart is also an avid fan.

Reading these books recently, I felt myself really wishing that I had read them when I was younger. Growing up, my absolute favorite book was Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. In high school, Willa Cather’s O Pioneers! was the book that made me love writing about literature. The Betsy-Tacy books appeal to the same sensibility as MacLachlan and Cather’s works, all of which feature Midwestern settings and strong and independent female characters.

Harper Perennial Modern Classics has repackaged the final six novels into three double-book volumes. Heaven to Betsy/Betsy in Spite of Herself, Betsy Was a Junior/Betsy and Joe, and Betsy and the Great World/Betsy’s Wedding are all newly available. These volumes also include forewords by Meg Cabot, Anna Quindlen, and Laura Lippman – all of whom are Betsy-Tacy fans themselves.

If you’re considering adopting these books, please order an exam copy. If you’ve already adopted the books, please order a complimentary desk copy.

Amazon's Top Books of 2009


Even though it’s barely November, the year-in-review articles have already started to pop up. Just this week Amazon released a list of the top books of 2009.

We’re happy to note that two Harper titles made the editors’ top ten lists, Crazy for the Storm, the true story of an eleven year old boy, Norman Ollestad, and the harrowing plane crash he survived, is on the list at number six.


At number 10 is one of our personal favorites here at HarperAcademic: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer. The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind is the inspirational story of an enterprising teenager in Malawi who builds a windmill from scraps found around his village and brings electricity —and a future— to himself and his family.


To view the editors’ top 100 favorite titles, click here. For the readers’ top 100, click here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Subway Reading (and Writing)

Last week, I spotted a young woman reading How to Write a Movie in 21 Days by Viki King on the uptown A train. Not only was she reading the book--it looked as if she was writing her script then and there. She'd read with great concentration for a few minutes, stare into space for a bit, and--next--with a sudden burst of energy--she'd write in her notebook. Back and forth she went: Read. Ponder. Write. At this pace, I think she's going to write two scripts in 21 days on her daily commute.

For more books about writing everything from business memos to the Great American Novel, check out our new Writing catalog.

CRUSH IT!: Teaching Students about Social Media

Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk is an exciting way to prepare students to be progressive thinkers in their careers and to give them the knowledge they need to fully harness the power of the Internet and social media.

To help you incorporate Crush It! into your class, Gary's team has developed teaching materials that you'll find
here. In order to make the book even more powerful, any teacher who assigns the book as required reading in a class of 15 or more students will also receive a 15-minute Skype video call to their class from Gary so he can expand on the principles and answer questions. To learn more about this offer, send an email to the Crush It! team.

Meanwhile,
read the first chapter--and let us know if you need a desk copy.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Free Book Giveaway: SERENA by Ron Rash

Since its publication last year, Ron Rash’s Serena has garnered tremendous critical praise. The New Yorker calls it, “a tightly knit tale of industrial development, greed, and betrayal ” that “recalls both John Steinbeck and Cormac McCarthy.” Proving that there’s still room on the bestseller list for real literature, Serena was a PEN/Faulkner finalist and a New York Times bestseller.

Aside from being the author of three other prize-winning novels, Ron Rash is the John Parris Chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University. Thanks in part to the author’s reputation and the book’s North Carolina setting; Serena has been very popular in colleges in the Southeast. Last week, in fact, I received the good news the Serena has been adopted for ALL reading and English classes at Caldwell Community College in North Carolina!

I have four copies on hand for educators who are interested in this book. Please send me an email if you’re interested in considering Serena for one of your classes. You can also click here to read an excerpt.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Teaching Materials for SUPERFREAKONOMICS

Two of my favorite professors--J. Lon Carlson (Illinois State University) and S. Clayton Palmer (Weber State University) have created instructor's guides, test banks, and study guides for students for SuperFreakonomics.

There are materials for professors who are teaching quantitative analysis and statistics classes--as well as an instructor's guide and test bank for professors of economics. These materials are password protected to keep them out of students' hands. Please email us--and we'll provide the password.

Meanwhile, if you need a desk copy of SuperFreakonomics, please let us know.

Can your favorite author spell?

Many months ago, I realized that I could no longer spell. Why? I am a slave to my keyboard and the Spell Check gods. I don't think; I type--and my typos are magically corrected as I go along. Well, many of them. It's all in my fingers now and not in my head.

Check out this video of a fundraising spelling bee--featuring some very smart and famous authors. I found it comforting to know that I'm not the only one who has lost her spelling-bee chops.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner on Behavioral Economics and Climate Change at New York City's Symphony Space

Last week I was lucky enough to attend Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s discussion of their new book SuperFreakonomics at New York City’s Symphony Space. Four years after the publication of the hugely popular Freakonomics, the University of Chicago economist and New York Times reporter have released a sequel based on new and provocative research.

In terms of format, SuperFreakonomics bears much resemblance to its predecessor. Each chapter discusses everyday occurrences by examining economic incentives as a way of explaining human behavior. Some topics include prostitutes, terrorists, and climate change.

At Symphony Space, Levitt and Dubner talked about the history of their collaboration (both had thought the Freakonomics book advance should be split 60/40, agreeing on a 50/50 split when they realized each believed the other should get 60%), the title (until the last minute they didn’t have a title, settling on Freakonomics because it was the “least bad”) and taking questions from the audience, most of which related specifically to content in the sequel (the section on climate change proved by far to be the most controversial).
Stephen Dubner described Dr. Levitt’s research as, “stripping away layers of obfuscation,” to uncover a rational, economic approach to people’s decisions and the consequences of those decisions. After reading SuperFreakonomics, I found that the studied, logical way in which the authors examine the issues presented in the book was applicable in my daily life as well. Now when I read an article in the newspaper, I find it much easier to think critically about how one measures that data, what a reliable sample pool looks like, and what other factors could have influenced or not been accounted for in the reporting of that data.

The Freakonomics books are academic without being dry, interesting, and engaging. Though they certainly educate the reader on the specific topics presented in each chapter, I found the greatest benefit for students and casual readers alike to be a more rational understanding of relationships between the variables and data in daily life.

Freakonomics has been a great resource in classrooms studying everything from macroeconomics to composition. For teachers already using the book, HarperAcademic offers online instructor resources including sample test questions and a student guide. Instructor resources to SuperFreakonomics will be available online shortly.

SuperFreakonomics is already being added to class curriculums in high schools and universities across the country. If you’d like to see one for course adoption consideration, please order an exam copy. If you’ve already adopted it for you class please order a complimentary desk copy.
Click the video link below to watch Steven D. Levitt's recent appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.


The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Steven Levitt
http://www.thedailyshow.com/
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Monday, October 26, 2009

Don't Know Much about Halloween

Did you know that Halloween began as a pagan holiday dating back to before the advent of Christianity? Formerly known as Samhaim (pronounced Sow-win) the holiday used to be celebrated earlier in the year to mark the end of summer and the beginning of autumn.

Though the original Halloween is very different than the one we’ll be celebrating this weekend, many of our current traditions are derived from the pagan holiday. To learn more about the hidden history of Halloween, including the origins of trick-or-treating, why Jack-o-lanterns are carved from pumpkins, and why mischief is such an integral part of the evening, please watch the video below featuring Kenneth C. Davis, author of the Don’t Know Much About® series and America’s Hidden History.



video

REVOLUTION IN MIND Wins the 2009 Gradiva Award

HarperAcademic would like to offer its congratulations to Dr. George J. Makari. This weekend the National Association for Advancement of Psychoanalysis awarded his book, Revolution in Mind, the 2009 Gradiva Award for Best Historical Work. Last year the New York Times Book Review called Dr. Makari’s book, “A lucid history…Makari’s book projects a pleasing orderliness onto a tangled tale.” The NAAP’s Gradiva Award recognizes those works that advance the study of psychoanalysis.

If you’re interested in adopting this book for a class, please order an
examination copy. If you’ve already adopted it, please order a complimentary desk copy.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Going with the FLOW: The Cultural Story of Menstruation

I don't usually tout books published by other companies--but Elissa Stein, coauthor of the upcoming Flow: The Cultural Story of Menstruation, is a former Harper employee--and she's been my friend for over ten years.

Bold as ever, Elissa takes on a taboo subject with a highly entertaining mix of science, history, and pop culture. Flow is filled with smart sidebars and full-color reproductions of "feminine product" advertisements that educate and entertain. You'll find yourself saying, "I didn't know that!"

And, here's a short video about something you really should know. Want more?

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Write Stuff: New WRITING GUIDES Online Catalog is Now Available

The new HarperCollins Publishers Writing Guides catalog is now available online here and also under the "Academic Catalogs" header to the right of this blog post. Featuring classics for your students such as William Zinsser’s On Writing Well and Babette Deutsch’s The Poetry Handbook to current favorites like Francis Flaherty’s The Elements of Story and Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer, the catalog also includes links to related resource content on the web to provide a fluid interactive experience that goes beyond the traditional printed catalog. Please feel free to let us know what you think about this exciting informational tool.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Highest Duty by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger: “As dramatic as it is inspirational.”*

On January 15, 2009, the world witnessed one of the most remarkable emergency landings in aviation history when Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger skillfully glided US Airways Flight 1549 onto the surface of the Hudson River, saving the lives of all 155 aboard. His cool actions not only averted tragedy but made him a hero and an inspiration worldwide. To Sullenberger, a calm, steady pilot with forty years of flying experience, the landing was not a miracle but rather the result of years of practice and training—wisdom he gained in the cockpit of U.S. Air Force jets and in his Texas boyhood.

Until now, few have known the story of this remarkable, yet reluctant, public figure. In Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters, the author shares his thoughts on leadership, responsibility, and commitment to hard work – the traditional American values that have made him who he is. Though his account of his life and the events of January 15th are truly remarkable, Captain Sullenberger’s tone throughout the book is humble and relatable.

Many of the themes that make Captain Sullenberger’s story so riveting are those that make for good freshman reading as well: his historical water landing is a sensational story that everyone can connect with, while at the same time being a classic example of hard work and dedication. Highest Duty, co-authored with Jeffery Zaslow, is a mix of biography and heartfelt advice in the same vein as The Last Lecture, which Zaslow also helped pen.

If you would like to consider this book for one of your classes, please order an examination copy. If you have already assigned the book as required reading, please order a complimentary desk copy.

*Publisher’s Weekly, Starred Review

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Take a look, it’s in a Vook: Will the Reading Rainbow look the same in a hybrid book?

A front-page article in the October 1 edition of the New York Times cast a spotlight on the latest development in book-technology hybrids: vooks. Four of these new composites, books that intersperse video content throughout ebooks, are being released this month by Simon & Schuster.

This new development adds to the ongoing discussion of the increasingly intertwined roles of books and technology in the classroom. On the one hand, hybrid content offers many exciting academic applications, particularly for non-fiction titles. Adding sound or video to ebooks can greatly benefit educational texts that might otherwise be dry or difficult to understand. Sound samples in a book on music theory, for example, could help students in the same way that color printing improves the quality of books on art history. By making books more multi-platform, teachers can better get through to students with different learning styles (kinesthetic, aural as opposed to simply visual), thereby enabling them to engage a greater number of students.

Yet according to the article, “Not just how-tos are getting the cinematic work-up. Simon & Schuster is also releasing two digital novels combining text with videos a minute or 90 seconds long that supplement – and in some cases advance – the story line.”

The Times article mentions a commenter on Amazon.com who says: “’It really makes a story more real if you know what the characters look like,’…The videos, he wrote, ‘add to the experience in a big way.’” The reviewer here implies that there is a correct way to understand a story, a view which seems unnecessarily limiting to me. An article on Salon.com points out that books are a fun form of entertainment in part because they don’t force one correct understanding of a story on the reader.

The article also addresses the problem of using video in books to enhance its entertainment value by pointing out that publishing, which is not in the business of creating video, simply can’t compete with Hollywood. “I can buy a paperback romance novel and in my mind's eye cast Clive Owen as the lead, while a vook is only able to deliver a struggling unknown from the dinner-theater circuit.”

In an academic context, I actually think that videos in books can be detrimental to students’ learning. The act of imagining a new world is what makes books unique for young readers, especially compared to other, more passive forms of entertainment like television or video games. Reading, as opposed to watching, inculcates in young minds the critical and analytical skills that are important both in and outside of the classroom.

Many teachers I’ve spoken to recently are trying to integrate electronic content as a way of engaging students and teaching them to master technology they’ll need to understand in an increasingly digital world. What, in your opinion, are the benefits of multimedia books? What are the drawbacks? Would you consider using vooks in your classroom? Why or why not?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Your Monday Galley Giveaway: PIRATE LATITUDES by Michael Crichton


“Crichton’s books are compulsive reading,” said the Los Angeles Times Book Review in a review for the author’s book, Prey. The author of Jurassic Park, State of Fear, and last year’s hugely popular sci-fi thriller Next, Michael Crichton was a known as a master storyteller.

This December, a little more than a year after his untimely death, Harper is publishing Pirate Latitudes, the first of two posthumous novels. Set in Jamaica in 1665, Pirate Latitudes is an adventure of swashbuckling pirates in the New World, a classic story of treasure and betrayal.

I have three galleys on hand for the first three people who email me with the correct answer to the following question: Michael Crichton was the creator of what long running TV show?

Friday, October 9, 2009

How do you teach your students about the campaign process?

Longer ago than I care to admit, I was assigned Theodore H. White's The Making of the President 1960 as required reading in a political science class. I wasn't a political science major--and I took the class to fulfill what felt to me like an unfair social science requirement. I approached White's book with great caution and the class in general with dread and the faint hope that I would be able to eke out the B I needed to keep my scholarship.

Both The Making of the President 1960 and the class were a complete and happy surprise to me. White's book was filled with gritty details, and I flew through it--completely fascinated by the campaign process. I still stop dead in my tracks when I happen upon footage of the Kennedy/Nixon debates. The book is available again to convince the next generation of indifferent students that elections are furious battles--the stuff of high drama. This time around it comes with a new foreword by Robert Dallek.

Those who can't get enough of the Kennedys can turn to Ted Sorensen's Counselor: A Life on the Edge of History and his classic and surprisingly candid biography of Kennedy. And, Adam Clymer's Edward M. Kennedy places the youngest Kennedy brother's career in a historical perspective.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Anne Frank: An Examination of a Young Author and Her Legacy

A 1996 survey of classrooms across the country found that Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl was at one point required reading for fifty percent of students.

As Francine Prose explains, teachers often find that this ubiquitous text does not “teach itself.” In her new book, Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife, Ms. Prose approaches Anne’s diary as more than simply the inner thoughts of a girl, but rather the literary work of a young artist. A teacher herself and author of a number of critically-acclaimed literary works as well as the New York Times bestseller Reading Like a Writer, Prose delivers a thoughtful and in-depth analysis of this book and its legacy. Part literary critique, part historical analysis, part author biography, Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife is an illuminating study of the legacy of one of the most enduring books of the 20th century.

“A lively and illuminating disquisition....an impressively far-reaching critical work, an elegant study both edifying and entertaining. In a book full of keen observations and fascinating disputes...Ms. Prose looks in all directions to find noteworthy material...This is a Grade A example of what a smart, precise and impassioned teacher can do.” –New York Times

“Prose is commanding and illuminating...definitive, deeply moving inquiry into the life of the young, imperiled artist.... Extraordinary testimony to the power of literature and compassion.” —Booklist (starred review)

If you would like to consider this book for one of your classes, please order an examination copy. If you have already assigned the book as required reading, please order a desk copy.

Nancy Peacock on Writing, Cleaning, and Life

Nancy Peacock has a varied résumé: house cleaner, bartender, carpenter, locksmith, costumer, baker, waitress, assistant drum maker, and newspaper deliverer, etc. But throughout it all, she has always been a writer—the author of two highly regarded novels:

In 1996 my first book, Life Without Water, was published and chosen as a New York Times Notable Book. It was followed a few years later by Home Across the Road. In spite of this success I still had to keep my day job. I worked for years as a self-employed house cleaner.
In the honest and witty essays of A Broom of One's Own, Nancy explores the writing life—offering useful lessons on subjects such as inspiration, craft, and criticism as well as encouragement to all writers—regardless of what their current job titles might be.

Class discussions about this book will lead students to explore the working life of a writer, the publishing industry’s trend toward the "blockbuster novel," how to maintain a writing schedule, and how to keep your spirits up in the face of both failure and success. To facilitate these discussions, Nancy has provided a Teacher Study Guide.

Nancy continues to write—and she runs writing workshops in her studio in Chatham County, North Carolina.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Free Galley Monday: SO MUCH FOR THAT by Lionel Shriver

So Much for That is the newest novel from the critically acclaimed author Lionel Shriver (The Post-Birthday World, We Need to Talk About Kevin). In the same way authors like Jodi Picoult tackle social issues through fiction, Ms. Shriver gives readers a deeply honest look at the human cost of the American health care and insurance systems.

The story follows Shep Knacker and Glynis, his wife of twenty-six years. Shep has long saved for “The Afterlife:” an idyllic retirement on a tropical island in the Third World where a nest egg can last. His plans are disrupted, however, when Glynis announces that she’s sick and desperately needs his health insurance. Lionel Shriver enriches the story with three other medical subplots that explore the human side of the healthcare system. Despite its dark subject matter, So Much for That is a page-turner that asks important questions about the value of human life with a surprisingly upbeat ending.

Although this book won’t be published until March 2010, I have four advanced reading copies for anyone who would like to read it. To get yours send me an email with the subject: "Free Galley Monday."

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Homeschooling Resources: College Prep & Test Review

I confess that I often take our backlist titles for granted until an event in the news or a conversation will bring a wonderful book or series to the front of my mind.

Yesterday, Larry Kaseman, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Parents Association, called me to ask about our Collins Outline series--which is perfect for homeschoolers who are preparing for college. As I put together the list for Larry, I remembered how terrific these books are. Written by educators in the field, these outlines summarize the material in the major textbooks on the subject in a way that makes it easy to understand and to remember.

Here's the complete list:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Will THE INTERROGATIVE MOOD inspire your creative writing students?

Why did Padgett Powell--a novelist who was touted as the best of his generation by Saul Bellow and "among the top five writers of fiction in the country" by Barry Hannah--write The Interrogative Mood: A Novel? as a series of questions?

Are you happy? Are you given to wondering if others are happy? Do you know the distinctions, empirical or theoretical, between moss and lichen? Do you cut slack for the crime of passion as opposed to its premeditated cousin?


Why do I find myself trying to answer all of Padgett's questions? Why are there no easy answers?

Can you use The Interrogative Mood to inspire your students? Is it filled to the brim with writing prompts? Do you want to read the first chapter?

Would you like to watch this video of Padgett Powell reading from The Interrogative Mood?