Generation Roe: A Perspective On The Current Pro-Choice Landscape And What The Future Holds

By Sarah Erdreich, author of Generation Roe (Seven Stories Press, March 2013). Generation Roe TP

In the spring of 2008, I was living in Washington, D.C. and working as a freelance editor. I enjoyed the work, but missed having someone besides my dog to talk with during the day. So when I came across a job posting for part-time work on the National Abortion Federation’s hotline, I jumped at the opportunity.

I had never worked in the reproductive rights field, but I had always believed that women should have the right to choose: I grew up in a politically liberal town (Ann Arbor) in a politically liberal family, where I took lots of rights for granted.

And I thought that I knew plenty about abortion before I began working on the NAF hotline: the legendary court cases, the anti-choice violence, the reasons that a woman would make this choice. But working on the hotline was a real eye-opener. Every day, I heard from women of all racial, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds that were unable to access a legal medical service because of their income, their lack of reliable transportation, or the restrictions their state placed on abortion care. (more…)

April 16, 2013 at 3:16 pm Leave a comment

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks: The Top Common Reading Book of 2011 and 2012

Winner of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and Institute of Medicine’s Communication Award for Best Book
Winner of the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction
Winner of the Wellcome Trust Book Prize

Named by more than 60 critics as one of the best books of 2010, including: Best Book of the Year at: O, The Oprah Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, Bookmarks Magazine, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Entertainment Weekly, East Bay Express, and Kansas City Star, A Discover Magazine 2010 Must Read, National Public Radio, Best of the Bestsellers

In 1951, an African American woman named Henrietta Lacks, stricken with cervical cancer, became an involuntary donor of cells from her cancerous tumor, which were propagated by scientist George Otto Gey to create an immortal cell line for medical research. These cells are now known worldwide as HeLa. In The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, award-winning science writer Rebecca Skloot brilliantly weaves together the Lacks’s story–past and present–with the story of the birth of bioethics, the story of HeLa cells, and the dark history of experimentation on African Americans. Important, powerful, and compassionate, this is a remarkable work of science and social journalism.  (more…)

March 12, 2013 at 1:03 am 4 comments

Professors: Free Examination Copy Available. The Taste of Ashes by Marci Shore, professor of history at Yale

dcoverInterweaving archival history, scholarly research, personal recollections, and first-person vignettes, Yale historian and professor Marci Shore has written a unique treatise on post-communist Eastern Europe. Drawing on recently opened communist archives, and the memories of colleagues, acquaintances, and family members, Shore gives a platform to former communists and dissidents, Zionists, Stalinists, and their children and grandchildren. Moving across Berlin, Vienna, Prague, Warsaw, Bucharest, and Moscow, The Taste of Ashes is a scholarly yet personal portrait of events that, even as they recede into history, continue to resonate and reverberate today.

Here is a message from Marci Shore:

I was at an impressionable age when the revolutions came. This is the short answer I often give when asked by Poles or Czechs or Russians why I became interested in their part of the world. In 1989, I was seventeen years old and knew nothing about Eastern Europe. Yet growing up in suburban Pennsylvania, it was impossible not to absorb that we were locked in a struggle with the Evil Empire that might well bring about the end of the world. (more…)

January 28, 2013 at 6:29 pm Leave a comment

Recommended for Common Reading and Social Science Courses: Full Body Burden, Growing Up in the Nuclear Shadow of Rocky Flats

dcover

Selected for Common Reading at Four Colleges & Universities: California State University, Sacramento;  Fort Lewis College; Michigan Technological University; and Virginia Commonwealth University

Full Body Burden is a haunting work of narrative nonfiction about a young woman growing up in a small Colorado town close to Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear weapons plant once designated “the most contaminated site in America.” It’s the story of growing up in the shadow of the Cold War, in a landscape at once startlingly beautiful and—unknown to those who lived there— tainted with invisible yet deadly particles of plutonium.

It’s also a book about the destructive power of secrets—both family secrets and government secrets. Her father’s hidden liquor bottles, the strange cancers in children in the neighborhood, the truth about what they made at Rocky Flats (cleaning supplies, her mother guessed)—best not to inquire too deeply into any of it. But as Iversen grew older, she began to ask questions. In her early thirties, she even worked at Rocky Flats for a time, typing up memos in which accidents were always called “incidents.” And as this memoir unfolds, it also reveals itself as a brilliant work of investigative journalism—a shocking account of the government’s sustained attempt to conceal the effects of the toxic and radioactive waste released by Rocky Flats, and of local residents’ vain attempts to seek justice in court. Based on extensive interviews, FBI and EPA documents, and class action testimony, this taut, beautifully written book promises to have a very long half-life. (more…)

September 5, 2012 at 3:19 pm Leave a comment

Red Ink by David Wessel Picked Up at The University of Hawaii

This semester, Dan Boylan, a prominent political commentator in Hawaii, is assigning Red Ink to the class he teaches at University of Hawaii – West Oahu.  To read his article, “Sobering Dose of Economic Reality,” click here.

David Wessel, the Pulitzer-Prize-winning reporter, columnist, and bestselling author of In Fed We Trust, dissects a topic–the federal budget–that is fiercely debated today in the halls of Congress and the media, and yet is misunderstood by the American public.

In a sweeping narrative about the people and the politics behind the budget, Wessel looks at the 2011 fiscal year (which ended September 30) to see where all the money was actually spent, and why the budget process has grown wildly out of control. Through the eyes of key people–Jacob Lew, White House director of the Office of Management and Budget; Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office; Blackstone founder and former Commerce Secretary Pete Peterson; and more–Wessel gives readers an inside look at the making of our unsustainable budget.

“David Wessel’s Red Ink is a wise and pithy introduction to the great economic issue of our time.” –N. Gregory Mankiw, professor of Economics, Harvard University (more…)

September 4, 2012 at 6:19 pm Leave a comment

Two Colleges Choose Behind the Beautiful Forevers for Fall courses

Behind the Beautiful ForeversThe University of Arkansas’s Department of Journalism and Vassar College’s Sociology Department have chosen Behind the Beautiful Forevers for their fall courses.
From Pulitzer Prize-winner Katherine Boo, a landmark work of narrative nonfiction that tells the dramatic and sometimes heartbreaking story of families striving toward a better life in one of the twenty-first century’s great, unequal cities.

In this brilliantly written, fast-paced book, based on three years of uncompromising reporting, a bewildering age of global change and inequality is made human.

Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Abdul, a reflective and enterprising Muslim teenager, sees “a fortune beyond counting” in the recyclable garbage that richer people throw away. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. With a little luck, her sensitive, beautiful daughter—Annawadi’s “most-everything girl”—will soon become its first female college graduate. And even the poorest Annawadians, like Kalu, a fifteen-year-old scrap-metal thief, believe themselves inching closer to the good lives and good times they call “the full enjoy.” (more…)

July 6, 2012 at 3:21 pm Leave a comment

Recommended Book from LinkedIn Co-Founder Reid Hoffman and Author Ben Casnocha, The Start-up of You

A revolutionary new guide to thriving in today’s fractured world of work, The Start-up of You provides strategies that will help students survive, thrive, and achieve the boldest professional ambitions and to take control of their futures. Read authors Reid Hoffman (co-founder and chairman of LinkedIn) and Ben Casnocha’s  message to educators:

Students are graduating into an extraordinarily tough economy. Record numbers of college grads in America are jobless or underemployed.

How will your students launch a successful career today? How will they not only land a good job out of school, but also develop an overall career strategy to survive and thrive in this hyper-competitive economy?

Here’s how: treat their career as its own start-up venture. Drawing on the founding of LinkedIn and our experiences working with the world’s greatest entrepreneurs, our new book The Start-Up of You explains how each individual can apply entrepreneurial strategies to their career. This doesn’t mean students have to start their own company. Everyone can use Silicon Valley techniques—like constant adaptation, network building, and developing resiliency to risk—to achieve stability and success in their professional lives.

Today, every student needs to become entrepreneurial. This is the playbook that shows them how.

—Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha

Praise for The Start-up of You: (more…)

May 30, 2012 at 2:04 pm Leave a comment

Oberlin College Assigns Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story

superA professor at Oberlin College assigned Gary Shteyngart’s Super Sad True Love Story to her first-year class on new technologies. Anne Trubek has been teaching the class for over ten years and decided to change things up by assigning Shteyngart’s book to fifteen 18-year-olds.

“I expected about half to skip it, another half to say it was too difficult. Instead I got one unanimous round of applause. They all loved it. ‘Why?’ I asked. ‘It’s like us on steroids,’ said one. Fourteen other heads bobbed in agreement.”

Prof. Trubek goes on to mention in her article on buzzfeed.com how refreshing it was to find a contemporary novel like Shteyngart’s that deals with or even seems to understand technology.

Super Sad true Love Story is one of the few in recent memory to tackle this theme head on — and it’s the one I think we’ll be reading in 10 years from now, after the award winners are forgotten.”

Set in an alternative future, America is crushed by a financial crisis and our patient Chinese creditors may just be ready to foreclose on the whole mess. Then Lenny Abramov, son of an Russian immigrant janitor and ardent fan of “printed, bound media artifacts” (aka books), meets Eunice Park, an impossibly cute Korean American woman with a major in Images and a minor in Assertiveness. Could falling in love redeem a planet falling apart? (more…)

May 18, 2012 at 7:53 pm Leave a comment

Jay-Z now a Course Taught at Georgetown: “Sociology of Hip-Hop: Jay-Z”

This fall, Georgetown University has announced that noted educator, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, will be teaching a course revolving around hip hop mogul Jay Z and his book Decoded. For the millions who know him as the greatest rapper alive and an unparalleled cultural and business icon, Decoded is the story of the legendary Jay-Z, told through lyrics, images, and a powerful and surprising personal narrative. This is an intimate, first-person portrait of the life and art of Jay-Z, organized around a “decoding” of his most famous and provocative lyrics.

Prof. Dyson describes the course as follows: “We look at his incredible body of work, we look at his own understanding of his work, we look at others who reflect upon him, and then we ask the students to engage in critical analysis of Jay-Z himself.”  For more information on the course, see video at: http://rapfix.mtv.com/2011/10/10/michael-eric-dyson-on-jay-z-georgetown-university-course/

“Compelling. . . . Part autobiography, part lavishly illustrated commentary on the author’s own work, Decoded gives the reader a harrowing portrait of the rough worlds Jay-Z navigated in his youth, while at the same time deconstructing his lyrics. . . . [P]rovocative, evocative. . . .” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times (more…)

October 18, 2011 at 6:27 pm Leave a comment

A Life of Montaigne in One Question: HOW TO LIVE

978-1-59051-483-2Below is a note from Sarah Bakewell, author of  How to Live, on why she chose to write Montaigne’s new biography:

Why did I write about Montaigne? Mostly because I wanted to keep on reading him.

Ever since my early 20s, when I picked up his Essays by chance, wanting a good book for a long train journey, he never really left me. My first response to his work on that train was one of astonishment. How could someone who wrote in the 1500s sound so familiar, so conversational, so like me? It was like having a friend or a traveling companion sitting opposite me as we whizzed through the landscape. For years after that, Montaigne was never far from my side. And I discovered that practically everything else I read had the power of leading me back to him in some way—for Montaigne is the first truly modern author, the great hidden presence behind 400 years of literature, and indeed behind much of philosophy, politics, and social theory over those centuries.

This is mainly for one simple reason: No one before Montaigne had written so honestly and minutely about the inner world of a human being. He followed every twist and turn of his psyche, believing that every individual is worth writing about at such length, for “each man bears the entire form of the human condition.” But he also paid plenty of attention to the world outside. He was interested in everything; he traveled widely, held offices as magistrate and mayor, ran diplomatic missions for kings and princes, and tried his best to end the religious civil wars that tore apart the France of his day. These experiences led him to a deep fascination with human variety and difference. We share our essential humanity, he knew, but each of us has a radically different cultural, historical, and personal perspective, and that is just as fundamental. (more…)

September 22, 2011 at 7:43 pm Leave a comment

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