Every Day

February 2nd, 2017

I am a big fan of this book.  The book was fairly short, and it was also interesting enough to be a really quick read, which I think students will appreciate.  I also thought that David Levithan managed to capture a lot of identity and diversity issues, while keeping it relatively light-hearted and fun.  As I was reading, I found myself thinking a lot, and I feel like  this book would be a good choice for LSEMs.  There are a lot of class discussions that could be had.  Furthermore, I think that a lot of first year students could really identify with A, because as they enter college, most of them are forming new identities as well.

Overall Score: 5/5 I really like Every Day and I think that it would be a great choice as the first year reading experience.

Everything I Never Told You

January 18th, 2017

I truly enjoyed reading this book and I can say that this was my favorite FYRE experience book I have read over my years of being on this committee (maybe this is more my genre that I prefer, but I liked this book a lot). It was a good length, had an approachable but not too easy writing style, and the characters were relatable and each had their own interesting story line.  I think our students will relate to this book well and the issues the characters struggle with are relevant to our students and will be good discussion points in class (academics, finding your passion, diversity, judgment, expectations of others).

Rating: 5/5 Stars.

-Amorette

Every Day

January 18th, 2017

I enjoyed reading this book and it was a good length. It was interesting and the story line kept me captivated enough to want to pick it up each night and read more, which I think would be good for our Freshmen. It brings up many interesting topics and diversity issues, although I wish it did this more. This maybe could be a good discussion point about what would happen to A if he woke up each day across the country or even in different countries. It brought up many issues such as respecting the opportunities the day and life presents to you, personal integrity, and respect for other lives which is an excellent message for our students. The main character is relatable and A’s experiences could be related to what the first-year students are experiencing as new college students (waking up in a new environment, not knowing anyone, starting over with a clean slate, respecting others etc). The romantic element became slightly repetitive.

Overall: 4/5 Stars

 

-Amorette

We Are the Ants

January 18th, 2017

First, this book is too long at 451 pages.  It is an easy read, but I think maybe a little too easy. While it brings up some interesting themes about homosexuality and domestic and relationship abuse, it is very repetitive and revisits these issues over and over without much other content. I worry that the main character will not be relatable to a lot of our students. There are some concerns about language that is often used in the book. I enjoyed reading the book but I don’t see it working well for LSEM.

Overall rating: 1/5 stars

 

-Amorette

We Are the Ants

January 6th, 2017

How can I best summarize this book? Parts of the book are poignant, parts of it were completely unnecessary. Ignoring the frequent language and descriptions, I have other numerous concerns about it. The book comes in at 451 pages and while the text was easy enough to read, it is rather long in comparison to any other book the committee has reviewed. I also worry about the protagonist not being relatable enough for our students, and I could see the story being very triggering for others. While I understand why the book has gotten the praise it has, and I personally enjoyed it (I read the entire book within a few hours), I can’t see it working well within LSEM.

Overall rating: 2/5 stars

Laura

Everything I Never Told You

January 5th, 2017

Celeste Ng’s debut novel, on a personal level, put me on an emotional rollercoaster. From an academic perspective, however, I loved the book. Like Jen mentioned, it is seamlessly easy to read, a number of the characters are relatable to the students, and the setting of the novel is in a small, nondescript town, much like Farmville. The book has the potential to create a number of different discussions in LSEM regarding academics, diversity, perceptions of others. Despite being set in the late 1970s, the conflicts the characters struggle with are just as relevant and prevalent today. What was the most intriguing theme to me for our purposes was how expectations, whether from family or from ourselves, can define us and “what do we do” if we struggle to meet or simply can’t meet those expectations. I think that theme would resonate with many of our students, especially those who have already faced difficulties.

If we do choose to move forward with this selection, I believe other colleges have already used this book and I wouldn’t mind investigating how those colleges explored the concepts in the book on behalf of the group.

Rating: 5/5 Stars.

 

Laura

The Wave

January 4th, 2017

I just finished The Wave by Todd Strasser.  I think that it was very readable, which is important for a required reading.  It’s also quite a short/quick read, which may encourage more of the students to complete the reading.  Like Laura and Jen were saying, Strasser does bring up a lot of relevant topics for students such as: classroom conduct/presentation of self/discipline, social activism, teamwork and community, individuality, to name a few.  I don’t typically read books like this, but it definitely hooked me and made me think.

While I really did like the book, I am a little concerned that it might not be the best for a LSEM.  I agree with other assessments of the book which recommend it for a different type of class.  It has a lot of potential, and a lot of big topics that it addresses, so it would do really well in a citizenship type course.  I just question if LSEM would really do justice for The Wave.  I think that with all of the other topics covered in LSEM there might not be enough time to dedicate to this work.

Overall:  I would give The Wave a 4/5.  It is a really great book, but maybe not the best choice for the first year reading experience/LSEM.

-Katelyn

The Wave

December 14th, 2016

Todd Strasser’s The Wave is a fictionalization of the incident which occurred in April 1967 at Ellwood P. Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, California. I say fictionalized because some of the characters developed by Strasser aren’t based on real individuals. However, the improvisation exercise described within the novel comes straight from the actual history teacher’s notes. Personally, I found that information disquieting.

The Wave was remarkably easy to read and, as Jen previously posted, it comes in about 138 pages. The novel does bring up the ideas of student conduct in the classroom, presentation of self, peer pressure and team work. More importantly, the story discusses social activism, civic responsibility and individuality, which are definitely topics relevant to students today.

I think The Wave is actually better suited for a potential “Citizenship” course than Longwood Seminar. I think with the right instructor and the right group of students, the book (and perhaps some supplemental reading) could lead to thought-provoking discussions. While some students would “get something” out The Wave if it were used in LSEM, I don’t feel like the majority would.

Overall rating: 3/5 stars

Laura

Every Day

December 9th, 2016

As an avid fan of young adult fiction, I tried to ignore that passion and read Every Day critically, thoughtfully, judiciously. I considered whether “A’s” experiences would be unsettling or negatively received by a student (or a parent, for that matter), and ultimately decided the themes David Levithan weaves throughout the story outweighed any concern. To me, the heart of the story isn’t about romantic love as it a message about personal integrity, respect for each individual, and cherishing the experiences and opportunities life presents.

A’s age and mindset make the character relatable to the students. Many of A’s experiences could be a great springboard to discussing transitional concerns a first time student might have, such as meeting family expectations, making connections, and the consequences of reckless behavior. As for consequences, A’s decisions give the reader the opportunity to think about engagement and other perspectives than his/her/zir own.

I probably didn’t read the book critically enough, but I set high expectations. When I checked it out from Greenwood Library, a student work, a girl I vividly remember from New Lancer Days, said, “Every Day. I really loved (that book).”  I saw that as a positive sign. Moreover, I keep going back to one quote on page 320 (of the 2012 Hardback edition) from the book:

“If you stare at the center of the universe, there is a coldness there. A blankness. Ultimately, the universe doesn’t care about us. Time doesn’t care about us.

That’s why we have to care about each other.”

That’s a powerful message to send to our students, if they’ll heed it.

Overall: I’m not familiar with the rating system, so I’ll give it at least 4/5 Stars.

Laura

The Wave

December 8th, 2016

If we are using the old system: 2-3/5 stars. While the book is short (138 pages) and meets the requirements for readability for a 17/18 year old, it didn’t strike me as a book that would be interesting for incoming first year students to read. It was fairly predictable and slow at times. I think asking first year students to read this may come across as “preachy” (since there is a clear lesson attached to the story).

 

LSEM could easily discuss this book, but I don’t see it being a robust conversation.

 

-Jen Cox