Building Green Across America by Daniel Wallach

GreenTown USAby Daniel Wallach, foreword contributor of Green Town U.S.A.: The Handbook for America’s Sustainable Future (Hatherleigh Press, July 2013) and Executive Director and Founder of Greensburg GreenTown.

You may have heard of Greensburg, Kansas, the little town only 1.5 miles wide that was 95% destroyed by a tornado in 2007. What you may not know is that Greensburg chose to transform tragedy into opportunity by deciding to rebuild “green.” Since we made this decision, we have received quite a bit of exciting recognition. President Barack Obama mentioned it in his address to a joint session of Congress on February 24, 2009 and Leonardo DiCaprio, working with the Discovery Channel, produced a documentary. We were also featured on the Weather Channel during a segment entitled “When Weather Changed History.”

But the story of Greensburg, Kansas does not begin and end there. In fact, our decision to rebuild green is, in a way, the prelude to a new chapter for every town and city in our country, especially in light of the recent and ongoing disaster in the Gulf. Individuals across America can look to Greensburg, a.k.a. “GreenTown”, as an example of how we can change the course of history and change the way we live with the environment in mind, and how young people can be instrumental in this change.

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Breaking Racial Barriers During WWI: A Visual Narrative

9780307464972By Max Brooks, author of The Harlem Hellfighers (Broadway Books, April 2014).

I first learned of the Harlem Hellfighters from an Anglo-Rhodesian named Michael Furmanovsky when I was 11. Michael was working for my parents while getting his MFA in history from UCLA. He taught me about the British Empire, the Falklands War, Hiroshima, the Holocaust, and a host of other topics not covered in my fifth-grade western civilization class. Of all his after-school lessons, the one that left the deepest impression was the story of a unit of American soldiers who weren’t allowed to fight for their country because of the color of their skin. To a white, privileged kid growing up on the west side of L.A. in the 1980s, that kind of prejudice was just inconceivable. When I confessed that I didn’t know about them, he assured me that I wasn’t alone. Continue reading

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Marjane Satrapi Announces Persepolis Speaking Tour

9780375714573Marjane Satrapi, author of Persepolis and co-creator of the award-winning 2007 animated film adaptation, will be kicking off her U.S. speaking tour October 15th in Washington, D.C. Her coming-of-age graphic memoir has been one of the most popular Common Reading choices nationwide with over 95 university adoptions. The story of growing up in Revolutionary Iran, it is both accessible for a variety of reading levels and profoundly relevant to American students’ rapidly expanding worldviews. Continue reading

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Coming Of Age With Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep

978-0-8129-7235-1By Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep: A Novel (Random House Trade Paperbacks, November 2005).

When Prep was published, I was thrilled that it resonated with so many people. Countless readers sought me out to tell me that it captured their own feelings of awkwardness, insecurity, and excitement when they left home for the first time. What I hadn’t anticipated was that, in most cases, they were referring to their experiences not at boarding school but in college. Although my protagonist, Lee, is fourteen when she travels to Massachusetts to enroll in the elite Ault School, her adventures and misadventures actually reflect those of many college freshmen: her exposure to other students whose intelligence and sophistication impress and intimidate her and whose families are either far wealthier or far poorer than hers; her shifting relationship with her own family at home; the intimacy of dorm life, where she might find herself brushing her teeth next to someone she’s never spoken to; and the confusion and joy of early sexual experimentation. Continue reading

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A Message on Kindness from George Saunders

978-0-8129-9627-2By George Saunders, author of Congratulations, by the way (Random House, February 2014).

About a year ago I was asked to give a convocation speech for Syracuse University.  A graduation speech is always a risky gig.  Nobody’s sitting out there thinking, “I’m so excited to be graduating, because I get to hear the speaker!”  So I thought I’d better (1) be brief and (2) tell the truth.  In considering what advice I could give to a roomful of beautiful, well-educated young men and women, I realized that the only thing I had that they didn’t was that additional 35 years of being alive.  More specifically, I started thinking about regret-looking back over those years, what did I really wish I had done differently?  The answer was: I regretted almost nothing except my failures of kindness. Continue reading

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“A man who said yes to life”: Wes Moore Thrills at Brookhaven College

9780385528207Wes Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore, recently spoke at Brookhaven College as part of their 2014 Common Reading program.  Nearly 700 students from Brookhaven and the surrounding Dallas County Community College Districts gathered in the school’s Performance Hall to hear Mr. Moore speak.  Introduced by Brookhaven English professor Hazel Carlos as “a man who said yes to life, who rebelled … who begged to be left to his own devices but could not because too many people had planned, sacrificed and lived for him,” Moore emphasized the importance of education, mentorship, service and social responsibility.  “The point of higher education,” Moore told the crowd, “is to understand what becomes all of our roles.”  The crowd erupted with applause as Moore’s talk concluded by speaking specifically to his support of community colleges.

The Other Wes Moore, named a 2011 Booklist Top 10 Black History Nonfiction Book and winner of the 2011 BCALA (Black Caucus of ALA) Literary Award for Nonfiction, has been selected for common reading at nearly thirty colleges and universities.


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Dave Eggers will discuss The Circle and Meet Students on College Campuses This Fall

The CircleAs the internet and social media continue to influence a large part of our daily lives it’s no wonder that The Circle has caught the attention of many colleges and universities.  In his newest novel, Dave Eggers, author of Zeitoun and A Hologram for the King explores what happens when the benefits of technology exact a dangerous price on humanity.

“[A] novel of ideas . . . about the social construction and deconstruction of privacy, and about the increasing corporate ownership of privacy, and about the effects such ownership may have on the nature of Western democracy.” —Margaret AtwoodThe New York Review of Books

Three universities have selected The Circle as their 2014 Common Read and are looking forward having their students discuss these ideas during orientation and further into the fall semester. Dave Eggers will visit each of these campuses to meet students and discuss their reactions to The Circle.

University of South Carolina, Columbia (Monday Aug 18th)

Virginia Commonwealth University (Tuesday Aug 19th)

Boston College (Thursday Sept 11th and Friday Sept 12th)

Dave is excited to connect with students and would like to visit even more campuses this fall! If your school is considering The Circle for Common Reading, please contact us at to find out more information on Dave’s speaking availability.

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