Friday, January 30, 2009

Teaching Richard Wright's BLACK BOY

I know you're always looking for new ways to teach the classics, and Black History Month is a good time to revisit Richard Wright's Black Boy with your students.

I hope you enjoy watching Professor Amy Hungerford lead her students at Yale University in a discussion of Wright's autobiography.

How will you celebrate Charles Darwin's 200th birthday?

I hope you haven't forgotten that February 12 will be the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin's birth. You can find out about events and learn more about Darwin and Evolution at Darwin Day Celebration.

Carl Zimmer's Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea is based on the PBS series--and you'll find wonderful teaching resources online at PBS.

One librarian created a Darwin Day Bulletin Board. How will you take note of Darwin's Bicentennial?

Me? In addition to enjoying the benefits of my opposable thumb, I'm going to celebrate Charles Darwin by dipping into

Maybe I'll break out the crayons and spend some time with The Human Evolution Coloring Book!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Working Mothers: Including African-American Women in the National Discussion

With Michelle Obama as our First Lady, we have a powerful symbol of black motherhood in the White House.

However, as Lonnae O'Neal Parker, author of I'm Every Woman: Remixed Stories of Marriage, Motherhood, and Work, points out black women are often left out of the national discussion about motherhood and work. I'm Every Woman adds the voices of black women of all classes to this important conversation.

"I think that Betty Freidan's Feminist Mystique (1963) did a great disservice to our national discourse on motherhood. She universalized the experience of upper-middle-class white women and put in place a false distinction between 'motherhood' and 'work.' Many African-American theorists like Patricia Hill Collins and belle hooks have pointed out the fact that African-American and working-class women have never been in a position to make this false 'choice.' I'm Every Woman: Remixed Stories of Marriage, Motherhood and Work makes this point in a 'real' non-theoretical way. It is a must-read for young women today who desperately need to hear the voices of women who may not 'have it all' (whatever that means) but, like most human beings, fathers AND mothers, are grounded in the ONE world of work and home."
--ELIZABETH VELEZ, Lecturer in Women's Studies, and Director of the Center for Multicultural Equity & Access, Georgetown University

Let us know if you'd like an examination copy so you can consider I'm Every Woman for your class.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Grapes of Wrath

I wrote something fun about grapes.

Those of you who are in the writing game, or who teach about writing, would probably agree that this grape essay needs a couple of rounds of editing but is otherwise publishable. So why am I putting something like that online for free instead of trying to sell it? A few reasons.

First, I've found that it's never a problem, later on, to do those couple of rounds of editing and include the online material in a book. A significant percentage of the content in my two dining books developed out of material I'd posted online.

Second, for me it's a great motivator. I like it when people comment on things I've written, especially when their comments are positive. It encourages me to write more when I'm experiencing insomnia, instead of watching reruns of Chuck.

Third, although that material could use editing, I like writing online exactly because I'm free of editors. If I only published what editors approved of, I'd publish a book every three years, a few magazine articles and the occasional New York Times op-ed. I publish all those things anyway, but I also have to my credit more than 20,000 message-board and blog posts from the past decade. There's just a lot more of me out there as a result of this strategy. Not all of it is great material, but some of it is.

Finally, I like the laboratory nature of online publishing. I can put something out there and gauge reactions. This helps me understand what kind of material resonates with my universe of readers. It's a small universe, but I like to know what's going on there.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

ALA Notable Books: Louise Erdrich and James Tate

Since her flight back from the Mid-Winter American Library Association didn't land until 2 a.m., it's no surprise that Virginia Stanley, Director of Library, isn't in the office today. However, she called to let us know the good news : We have two Notables!

Louise Erdrich's The Plague of Doves for fiction and James Tate's The Ghost Soldiers in poetry.

See the complete list of 2009 Notables at the ALA's site.

Remembrance of Rolodex Cards Past

The death today of author John Updike is yet another reminder how the "greatest generation" of authors seem to slowly be fading into the past. When I read this morning about Updike's death I cast a wayward glance at my trusty old Rolodex and sadly thought "there goes another one." A bit of an explanation:   I began my publishing career in 1991 at Random House, where I started compiling my Rolodex of author contacts. From Random House I then went on to HarperCollins, and then to Penguin, and then back again to HarperCollins (the book publishing industry is just an adult version of musical chairs). All the while I collected names of authors and their contact information for my increasingly stuffed-to-the-gills Rolodex. About a year ago I started flipping through my Rolodex and I thought "oh wow, I can't believe how many dead authors I have filed in my Rolodex." Authors like Norman Mailer (a man who I thought was incredibly charming and who had the most beautiful blue eyes I had ever seen), Richard Avedon, Leon Uris, and Robert Ludlum. They are all gone now but I can't bear to remove their cards from my Rolodex, which is a timepiece of my career. I have not bitten the bullet and gone digital with my contact information even though I am computer literate. The Rolodex appeals to my sentimental side--a useful relic of a not-too-distant time that I want to preserve. The dead author Rolodex cards will remain intact.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Werewolves Rule: An Alex Award for Sharp Teeth

Toby Barlow’s Sharp Teeth has landed on YALSA's 2009 Alex Awards list! The Alex Awards are given to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.

Here's a way to tempt young adults to read poetry: Sharp Teeth is a tightly written thriller in blank verse--featuring a pack of werewolves in Los Angeles. Or, as the Wall Street Journal put it, "Romeo and Juliet, werewolf-style." Plus, it has a very cool cover.

Teaching Guide: Barbara Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Right from the start—with the publication of her first novel The Bean Trees--Barbara Kingsolver's work found a place in high school and college classrooms. Why? Because Barbara writes about universal themes and concerns—family relationships, friendship, love, justice, nature, cultural differences, and building community—her work is filled with familiar touchstones and jolting insights.

In her latest work, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, Barbara Kingsolver is joined by her husband and oldest daughter. Together, they tell us about keeping their vow that, for one year, they’d only buy food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it.

We've put together a teaching guide to help you add Animal, Vegetable, Miracle to your curriculum. Let us know if you'd like an examination copy.

The Class That Changed My Life: Computer Science

Carl Lennertz, our VP of Sales for Independent Retailers, is the founder of Publishing Insider: On Books, Music, Movies, and Life in General. He's also the author of Cursed by a Happy Childhood: Letters from a Dad to a Daughter. Carl attended Stony Brook University.

The college course that changed my life was actually a negative experience, but I am thankful for it! I was on course to be a computer major, but I ran into a horrible class/horrible teacher, and I became disenchanted with that world. I changed my major to sociology and then to psychology.

When I graduated, I got a bookstore job, which is heaven for a dilettante! I could’ve been, perhaps, a rich computer guy now (said aforementioned computer class was in, gulp, 1972), but I have been way happier and richer as a bookstore and publishing person all these years. Now, I see computers as a means towards the writing, editing, selling, printing, and the reading of books, but it’s the words themselves--not the machinery--that fill my every day.

Tell us about the class that changed your life.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bad Advice: How to Survive High School

Eugene Mirman, author of The Will to Whatevs: A Guide to Modern Life, tackles all of life’s milestones and challenges from school, love, work, nightlife, and politics to death--and beyond.

Feel free to ask for Eugene's advice.

Honestly, the following will make you laugh, but I'm not certain you'll want to share it with your high school students.


Friday, January 23, 2009

The Class That Changed My Life: Women and Television

Not only does Erica Barmash work in our Advertising and Promotion Department, she also contributes articles to The Oliver Reader, and she is the founder of World Wide Whiskers. Erica attended New York University.

Like many people who work in publishing, I was an English major. But though I loved my literature classes, I always felt one step behind. My high school English classes were somewhat untraditional, and I never read many of the classics that other kids were forced to read at that age. Instead I took a survey of Hermann Hesse, a class on Gothic literature, and so on. It was awesome and eye-opening, but when I got to college I was very hesitant to speak up in class discussions, fearing that I was missing some crucial piece of literary knowledge that was the key to smart comments.

I spent most of my four years shyly taking notes, until senior year and the class that changed my life: Women in Television. I love television more than almost anything else in the world. I read TV Guide for fun as a kid and was even named after two soap opera characters. Finally, there was a class where I knew I had the proper background, where I knew that my insights were worthy. Classes were spent watching episodes of Oprah, Buffy, and Roseanne. I used books like Full of Secrets: Critical Approaches to Twin Peaks to write my papers and learned that I could apply the critical thinking skills I had learned in my English classes to just about anything.

It came too close to the end of my college career to make too much of a difference there, but Women in Television helped me conquer my fear of speaking up for good, and that truly changed my life.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Books for the First-Year Student Catalog

In two weeks we will escape cold and snowy New York City to travel to warm and sunny Orlando to attend the 28th Annual Conference on the First-Year Experience. This meeting always proves to be especially vibrant and informative, and we enjoy brainstorming with faculty administrators who have the task of selecting the book that their incoming freshman must read. To help with the decision-making process our hot-off-the-press Books for the First-Year Student catalog is now available. Included are solid choices for first-year experience reading programs--fiction, memoir, and nonfiction titles that spark serious discussions across disciplines, thereby allowing all students to participate. If you are attending the conference please drop by HarperCollins booth #10/11 to receive a complimentary catalog.

New from Mark Twain!

When you saw the "The Privilege of the Grave"--a new essay from Mark Twain--in the New Yorker's winter issue--I bet you said, "I thought I'd read everything published by Mark Twain." Well, I bet you haven't.

Who is Mark Twain? will be chock-full of new Mark Twain: twenty-four wickedly funny, thought-provoking, and never-before-published pieces. It won't be a book until April, but you can get a sneak peek at it now.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Your Chance to Talk to Wally Lamb!

Are you and your students ready to talk with Wally Lamb next Tuesday night, January 27th at 7 pm EST?

Wally will discuss his new novel, The Hour I First Believed--and you and your students can join in the conversation.

You and class can call in and chat, or just listen on the phone by calling (347) 945-6149--or listen live on the web and key in your questions! You can visit the site in advance to set up an automatic program reminder (and share it with your students!). Don't be shy! Have your class call or participate on the web!

Here's a taste of what's to come!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Class That Changed My Life: 7th Grade English

Elissa Stein attended Ames Junior High in Massapequa, New York.

I can still picture Victor Visconti, my 7th grade English teacher, furiously parsing sentences on the chalkboard. Determined that each of his students would master punctuation and grammar, Mr. Visconti drilled and drilled us. My 13-year-old self raged at these seemingly pointless exercises: Why doesn't the bell ring and release me from the grip of this obsessive? What do dangling participles and semicolons have to do with me--and for that matter--with the real world!?

Today, I make my living in the real world as a writer. And, almost every day, I look back on Mr. Visconti's lessons with gratitude. He taught more than the proper use of a comma. He showed me that words matter. I wouldn't admit it at 13--but I am happy to say it now: You were right, Mr. Visconti. Thank you.

Nikki Giovanni's Rap for President Obama

Poet Nikki Giovanni, author of Bicycles, can be heard reading a rap she wrote for President Obama on NPR’s "All Things Considered."

Edgar Award Nominees

The Edgar Awards, sponsored by the Mystery Writers of America, have announced their nominees. The Edgar Awards honor the best in mystery fiction, non-fiction, television, and film published or produced in 2008. Winners will be announced at the 63rd Gala Banquet, April 30, 2009 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. For more information and a complete list of nominees, please The Edgars.

One of our nominees in the Best Fact Crime category is For The Thrill of It: Leopold, Loeb and the Murder that Shocked Chicago by Simon Baatz.


Good Books in Bad Times

HarperOne has launched GOOD BOOKS IN BAD TIMES—a place for readers who are searching for thoughts, ideas, and wisdom from trusted sources to help them face these difficult times.

HarperOne invites booksellers, other publishers, librarians, and readers to join the conversation and submit their most inspirational books for today’s challenges, whether they be financial, spiritual, or personal. With this broad range of voices, GOOD BOOKS IN BAD TIMES will continue to grow into a resource of helpful books and ideas to shine a light and offer comfort to readers everywhere.

Please
send us a short write-up on which book has been good for you during bad times.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Class That Changed My Life: Accounting 101

I've asked everybody I know to contribute to this series so it seems only fair to post an entry of my own.

I was a blue-collar kid. My parents thought of college as a foreign country with rules they did not understand. ("There's an application fee?!") The one thing they were certain of was that a college degree could lead to a good job--and a good job, in their opinion, meant accounting.

This is how I landed in the back row of an Accounting 101 class at Hofstra University. By the third class, I knew that I would never be an accountant. Luckily, I was still within the drop-a-class window.

What did I take instead? With some wrangling, I landed a spot in Women's Literature--taught by
Ruth Prigozy. I had a great time reading and discussing The Awakening, Sula, The Women's Room (for a look at commercial fiction), The Yellow Wallpaper, and a slew of other books. At the end of the semester, I changed my major to Literature, and I have never regretted it.

Years later, Dr. Prigozy walked into Harper's booth at the American Studies Association's annual conference, and I got the chance to tell her what a difference dropping out of Accounting 101 had made in my life. She said, "Well, it's nice to see one of my students doing something in publishing." Today, I'm still doing something I like to do. Thanks again, Dr. Prigozy.

(Note that I have great respect for accountants. Actually, I love one--my brother, the "good" child.)

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Edgar Allan Poe Bicentennial

I hope you haven't forgotten that January 19 is Edgar Allan Poe's 200th birthday.

On January 17,
The Edgar Allan Poe National Historical Site in Philadelphia will reopen with a new exhibit in honor of the bicentennial. The celebration continues throughout the year with special events and lectures. This national park also has great resources for teachers.

The
Edgar Allan Poe House in Baltimore will have events throughout the year.

I'm going to dip back into The Great Short Works of Edgar Allan Poe and Kenneth Silverman's
Edgar A. Poe: A Biography.

Let us know what you're planning for the Poe Bicentennial.

The Class That Changed My Life: 10th Grade English

I asked Mary Ann Petyak of our Advertising and Promotion Department to tell us about her life-changing class.

The course that changed my life was tenth grade English at G.A.R. Memorial High School in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. My wonderful high school teacher, Mr. Jerry Hromisin, introduced us to some of the great stories and books of American literature—works that opened my eyes and my mind to the world as never before—including Henry David Thoreau's Walden.

Reading this wonderful book, my cynical fifteen-year-old self was astonished that someone could watch the large and small of life with such intensity, curiosity, and joy. I, too, was a kind of watcher, and in those pages I found kinship and assurance that though I was different from my friends, I wasn't alone. Researching my first term paper on Walden, my mind was introduced to the diversity of viewpoints available beyond my teenage world.

I have always said that college taught me how to think. But my college years—and the path to
adulthood—began in that class.

Tell us
about the class that changed your life.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Teaching Resources: Inauguration Day

Vermilion Parish School District has a terrific page of curriculum for K-12--including links to streaming coverage of the Inauguration on January 20.

Ken Davis, author of Don't Much About History and America's Hidden History, will discuss Inaugural history on CNN on January 16 at 2:30 pm EST.

College and high school students who want to delve into Barack Obama's life can turn to David Mendell's Obama: From Promise to Power. His presidental campaign can be seen in Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs by Deborah Willis and Kevin Merida.

Middle school students will enjoy Obama: A Promise of Change and Michelle Obama: Meet the First Lady by David Bergen Brophy.

Fifty-Two Stories: Free!

Harper Perennial is celebrating the thriving art of the story by sharing one every week: most of them new, a few of them classics, from authors you know and some you don't, each of them treasurable in its language or wit or human insight.

Join us--and we'll send you a new short story via e-mail every week until the end of the year. Plus, you can start reading now!

PLUS, Harper Perennial will consider your short story to be included in the program. Send your story here.

Here's an interview with one of our favorite writers, Simon Van Booy, author of Love Begins in Winter, which will publish in May 2009.


Adoption of the Month: Beasts of No Nation

Every month I sort through our new course adoptions. This month, I was happy to see that Uzodinma Iweala's novel Beasts of No Nation is being embraced in colleges and high schools with adoptions at Cornell University, Ithaca College, Griswold High School in Connecticut, and Box Elder High School in Utah.

Uzodinma's short novel is told in the voice of a child soldier in Africa. It's being taught in a variety of courses from Senior English in high school to college classes on literature and sociology.

Washington Post Book World called it "a tour de force."

Our teaching guide will help you incorporate Beasts of No Nation into your curriculum.

Here is Uzodinma talking about writing the novel on The Charlie Rose Show.


The Course That Changed My Life

I asked colleagues, teachers, and professors to tell us about the course that changed their lives.

Here's our first submission from Kayleigh George--our library marketing coordinator.

A college course that changed my life was Introduction to Philosophy. I was a freshman at Binghamton University, and was looking for something interesting—a real challenge.

Luckily enough, my professor was Martin Dillon. One of the most popular professors at the university, Professor Dillon was largely responsible for inspiring undergraduates to major in philosophy. If anyone was truly meant to teach, it was him. His intellect matched his ability to convey ideas, which is a rare find in a professor. He was magnetic—a truly charismatic teacher, and a pleasure to listen to.

His course books sit on my bookcase to this day, including works by Friedrich Nietzsche, Søren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, Jeremy Bentham, and Lao Tzu. Shortly before his death in 2005, I was fortunate to take another course with Professor Dillon—Existentialism and Modern Thought. I will always credit him with opening my mind, and inspiring me to think independently.

Let us know
which course changed your life.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Teacher Resources for Chinese New Year

My friends at Stuff4Teaching reminded me that Chinese New Year is fast approaching on January 26. They have great resources for teachers on their site.

For more information on Chinese New Year and other traditions, take a browse through Good Luck Life: The Essential Guide to Chinese-American Celebrations and Culture by Rosemary Gong.

Rosemary covers everything from the Hungry Ghost Festival to table etiquette in a fun and accessible style.

Students Helping Students

In Montreal, Sharon Peters's eighth graders are building an online space for a school in Nepal.

Many years ago, I spent a wonderful month in Nepal--and upon my return--I got involved in several organizations to further education there.

A trip to Nepal inspired John Wood, the author of Leaving Microsoft to Change the World, to found Room to Read, an organization that has created a network of over 5,600 libraries throughout the developing world. John encourages students and teachers to get involved through their Students Helping Students program.

If your students have taken on a volunteer project, please let us know.

An All E-Book Campus

Colleges are experimenting with e-textbooks, but none has been as aggressive as Northwest Missouri State University. President Dean L. Hubbard says they aim to be an e-book only campus as soon as the market will allow it. “We’ll move as fast as the industry moves and they’re moving very rapidly,” Hubbard says.

Read the article in today's
Inside Higher Ed.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Students, Teacher, and Author Talk!

Our first radio show is now a podcast!

This afternoon Michelle Knotts of Sinagua High School (Flagstaff, AZ) and her AP English students interviewed Tom Foster, author of the wildly popular How to Read Literature Like a Professor and How to Read Novels Like a Professor.

You can listen to it at
Authors on Air.

If you have assigned a book by one of our authors,
let us know. We'll do our best to set up an author interview with your students.

Homework Assignment: Get Happy

The New York Times ran an interesting article about the growing number of courses on positive psychology.

Highlighted are professor Todd Kashdan, a professor at George Mason and author of the upcoming Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life, and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of the classics Flow and Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention.

Here's Dr. Csikszentmihalyi talking about creativity and fulfillment.

Monday, January 12, 2009

16,000+ College Volunteers

Over 16,000 college students from 130 campuses in 28 states, plus the District of Columbia, are expected to engage in volunteer service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

These projects, which include everything from neighborhood clean-ups to preparing and serving meals to hospice patients, will take place on or during the week of the federal King Holiday, January 19.

Learn more about the national MLK Day of Service--and take some time on January 19 to read from A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.


The Golden Notebook Project

The Golden Notebook Project is an experiment in close-reading in which seven women are reading the book and conducting a conversation in the margins. You can read along and discuss online.

If you've assigned The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, ask your students to participate.

Here's an interview with Doris Lessing about winning the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Application (Re)Forms

I own an apartment in a building where I would no longer pass the coop board because the qualifications have gotten more and more stringent. It is now clear that I got a mortgage at a time when all you needed to be was alive. I have a diploma from a college that would most likely toss aside my application if it arrived today. I did not have to apply for middle or high school. My district sent kids to the nearest school--and they were all of the same good quality. Now, I've faced my share of "thanks but no thanks"--but I've always landed on my feet. Overall, my application experiences have been good.

Today, a knack for filling out forms and the ability to nail an interview have become necessary skills for young children. In NYC, 10-year-old students must apply to middle school. Despite best efforts, the process was confusing--and there was a lot of pressure on fifth graders and their parents. For instance, 2000 students and parents took the tour of East Side Middle School. How many students will it accept? 140 or so. (Honestly, this was not a good time to have dinner with the parents of fifth graders. They could talk of nothing else--but who could blame them?)

My friend, 10-year-old Isabel Lichtenstein, was quoted in a New York Times article about the application process. I hope Iz gets her first choice of school--and I wish her good luck with all of the forms, essays, and interviews she'll face over a lifetime.

Friday, January 9, 2009

My conference was stranger than yours

Many of the posts on this blog concern conferences the HarperAcademic folks have attended. I consider myself lucky, on account of being un-... I mean self-employed, in that I don't attend very many conferences. I did, however, recently attend one conference in Las Vegas that I'm willing to bet was more unusual than every conference attended by the HarperAcademic team in the past year -- combined. Here is my account of the Top 100 Chinese Restaurants in the USA awards and conference in Las Vegas.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

ESL Students

A new report, Portrait of a Population: How English-Language Learners Are Putting Schools to the Test, has been released.

Also included are interviews with thirteen students that highlight the struggles faced by so many immigrant children.

In June, The New York Times published an article about International High School's first prom--a Brooklyn school founded four years ago with a student body that is 100% recent immigrants. You can meet some of its students in this video.

NY Comic Con

NY Comic Con (February 6-8) just posted their panels--and there are many for librarians and teachers.

Philosophy Report

One of our editors volunteered to handle our booth at the American Philosophical Association's annual meeting in Philadelphia. This was especially nice of him because it takes place in the middle of the holiday season--December 27 to 30.
Here's what he had to say:

I want to send you a few words on my adventure in Philadelphia at the American Philosophical Association conference. 2,500 philosophers attended. I've never seen so much tweed.

The new Harper Perennial Modern Thought books got a great response. Lots of folks were very happy to see Heidegger's Being and Time in paperback, and were excited about the forthcoming titles, especially Wittgenstein's Major Works.

Other titles that drew attention were HarperOne's Religion and Science by Ian Barbour and There is a God by Antony Flew, Ecco's Writings on an Ethical Life by Peter Singer and Human by Michael Gazzaniga, and Harper Perennial's Revolution in Mind by George Makari.

It was wonderful to hear professors say, "Oh, I'm going to assign this in my next class."

Our Philosophy catalog is available in a print format. If you'd like one, send us an email. Or, you can access the online edition right now!

American Historical Association 2009


Last weekend we attended the conference for the American Historical Association being held here in New York City. This is one of our favorite meetings as it always draws a good crowd. And we love history professors because they always know what they are looking for. We were glad to have many fabulous new and backlist books to show.

New books such as Mrs. Lincoln: A Life, and Waking Giant caught the eye of many. There was also great anticipation for Jackson Lears' forthcoming book Rebirth of a Nation due out in June. Books that continue to be popular for course use among history professors are Ordinary Men by Christopher Browning, Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, and A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn.

Thanks again to the AHA and all who stopped by the booth, we look forward to seeing you all again next year in sunny San Diego.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

AP English Class Will Interview Tom Foster

Live Broadcast! Tuesday January 13th at 3:00 PM EST

Thomas C. Foster, author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor and How to Read Novels Like a Professor , will be interviewed by Michelle Knotts, a teacher at Sinagua High School in Flagstaff, Arizona, and her AP English class.

Your class can call in and chat, or just listen on the phone by calling (347 945-6141--or listen live on the web! You can visit the site in advance to set up an automatic program reminder (and share it with a friend!).

Don't be shy! Have your class call or participate on the web!

This is the first in a series of students and teachers interviewing the authors of books they are reading for class. If you have assigned a HarperCollins book, let us know--and we'll do our best to set up an interview with its author.

Resources for the African American Read-In

The National Director has extended the African American Read-In for the entire month of February. Beginning on Sunday, February 1, 2009, and ending on Saturday, February 28, 2009, you can hold a Read-In in your classroom on any day of the month.

The National Council of Teachers of English has online resources to help you get ready.


I think poetry works beautifully for an hour-long program. Why not start off by listening to Gwendolyn Brooks or Nikki Giovanni read their own works?

Bully Prevention: A Curriculum Guide

Olivia Gardner was relentlessly bullied. When the Buder sisters heard about Olivia's plight, they started a campaign of comfort and inspiration by encouraging people to write her letters. Letters to a Bullied Girl is the result. Olivia heard from those who had been bullied, those who stood by, and from people who had been bullies. It's an extraordinary collection.

To help you incorporate Letters to a Bullied Girl into your school's campaign against bullying, I asked Mike Koren, a middle-school teacher in Wisconsin, to writer our curriculum guide.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Teaching Guide: Beacon Hills High

I admit it: I was a bit cynical when a new novel by Mo'Nique--the actress and comedian--appeared on our list. However, Beacon Hills High is a terrific read for the high school set. Mo'Nique's heroine, Eboni, moves from Baltimore to Los Angeles--and she confronts issues familiar to many teenage girls such as body image, boys, being the "new girl" in school, and adjusting to a new neighborhood.

I liked the book's honest approach and its characters so much that I asked Kate Coxon (a teacher at Rocketship One Public School in San Jose, California) to write a teaching guide.

Costa Book Award for Sadie Jones

Congratulations to Sadie Jones! Jones’s book, The Outcast, has won the First Novel category of the Costa Book Awards. The Costa Book Awards (formerly the Whitbread Awards) is one of the most prestigious and popular literary prizes in the UK and recognizes the best books of the year by writers based in the UK and Ireland.

For more information and a complete list of winners, please visit The Costa Book Awards.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Six Words

Why have so many writing teachers adopted Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure by Larry Smith and Rachel Fershleiser? Because it a treasure trove of topics for classroom discussion and writing assignments. Not only is the six-word memoir a terrific writing exercise, the examples in the book can be used to prompt longer writing assignments.

For ideas on how to incorporate Not Quite What I Was Planning into your class, take a look at our teaching guide. If your students post their six-word memoirs at SMITH magazine, they might be picked for the next edition!

New in bookstores, Six-Word Memoirs of Love and Heartbreak is filled with insightful slivers of passion, pain, and connection that capture every shade of love and loss—six words at a time.



Saturday, January 3, 2009

Notes from AHA

Friday's booth traffic at our American Historical Association booth was brisk, and the the first four hours of the show flew by.

Waking Giant: America in the Age of Jackson by David S. Reynolds was one of our most popular titles.

Our books on Lincoln were of great interest. Fred Kaplan's Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer and Catherine Clinton's new Mrs. Lincoln: A Life were very popular. I'll see Catherine speak today at 2 pm.

There was lots of praise for Becoming Charlemagne: Europe, Baghdad, and the Empires of A.D. 800 by Jeff Sypeck. A professor told me that it's a book his students will actually read!

Jackson Lears's Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877-1920 was our most popular galley. The book will publish in June 2009.

I had the usual discussion with a professor about page length. Shorter is better for most classes. It's not as if this professor won't assign a long book--but she gets a better reaction from students when the book is under 300 pages. 256 is ideal.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Philosophy Catalog

If you didn't get a chance to pick up our new Philosophy catalog at last week's American Philosophical Association meeting, it's available online.

With works from Martin Heidegger, Antony Flew, Peter Singer, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, it is worth a good, long look.

Is Feminism Dead or Is This Third-Wave?

Last summer, I spotted three tourists: two teenage girls between 14 and 18 years of age and a woman who must have been their mother. The teens were giggling and trying to pose provocatively as their mother took their photograph in front of Playboy's discreet bronze plaque on its Fifth Avenue office building.

My first thought was, "Why would a mother encourage that? Feminism is dead." My next reaction was, "Oh, here's an example of third-wave feminism, right?"

There are times when you have to go back to go forward. I turned to Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch--a touchstone of second-wave feminism. In it, you can see the seeds of third-wave feminism--including sex-positivity, the reappropriation of the derogatory (reclaiming the female body), anti-essentialism (not advocating any particular prescription for women), and activism.

For more insights into second- and third-wave feminism, take a look at our teaching guide for The Female Eunuch--written by Meg Jay.

I'm still on the fence about the photo-taking mother. What do you think?