Category Archives: Author Essay

Discovering Oneself in America’s Disappearing Wilderness

9780307461247By James Campbell, author of Braving It: A Father, A Daughter, And An Unforgettable Journey Into the Alaskan Wild (Crown, May 2016)

The Inupiat, of Alaska’s harsh Arctic coast, have a word to express the awe one feels in the presence of raw Nature. They call it uniari. In part, Braving It is about the pursuit of uniari. The book chronicles three trips that my teenage daughter Aidan and I made into the heart of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a far-off place that few will ever see. But some of the book’s other themes—that there is reward in courage and leaving your comfort zone and that often the best relationships are forged by adversity—lay closer to home. Continue reading

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Why Healthy Sleep is Key for Academic Achievement

9781101904008By Arianna Huffington, author of The Sleep Revolution: Transforming Your Life, One Night At A Time (Harmony, April 2016)

There is more and more evidence of how sleep deprivation is affecting students, both their physical and mental health and their ability to learn. At the same time, we are living in a golden age of sleep science, revealing all the ways in which sleep plays a vital role in our decision making, emotional intelligence, cognitive function, and creativity – in other words, the building blocks of a great education. This science is already being applied, as many schools have seen positive results from pushing back start times. Continue reading

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A Road-Map For Students Transitioning To College

9780553419634By Caroline Webb, author of How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Science to Transform Your Working Life (Crown Business, February 2016).

Going to college is one of life’s big leaps. For the first time, students are expected to take responsibility for their choices – and there are a lot of them to make. They need to pick classes, sign up for extracurricular activities, and decide how often to do their laundry. They’re figuring out who they are and working out how to impress their new peers. And somehow, amid all that, they need to organize themselves to get work done. It’s as if they’re taking an unfamiliar new job in a foreign country, but without the benefit of any past life experience to draw on. Continue reading

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The Deadly Link Between Slavery and Environmental Destruction

9780812995763By Kevin Bales, author of Blood and Earth: Modern Slavery, Ecocide, and the Secret Weapon to Saving the World (Spiegel & Grau, January 2016).

For years I traveled the world meeting people in slavery. Whenever I spoke with slaves I focused intensely, trying to understand the depth and truth of their lives. What I saw, what I heard, and what I learned changed me, and led me deeper into the work of ending slavery, but I was missing something important.

Concentrating on their words, gestures, and feelings, I failed to see what was happening all around slaves. Only later did I notice a theme, a common element stretching around the world and touching all types of slavery. Wherever there were slaves, the environment was under assault, forests were being destroyed, endangered species were dying, and climate change was worsening—and all of this destruction was driven by profits from products we buy. Continue reading

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A Young Doctor Comes Face To Face With His Own Mortality

9780812988406Dr. Paul Kalanithi died in March of 2015 while completing the manuscript for his book When Breath Becomes Air (Random House, January 2016).  Here, his widow Lucy explains why college students will be interested in his writing.

Dear Reader,

At the age of 36, my husband Paul Kalanithi was on the verge of finishing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon at Stanford when his health began to falter. A CT scan confirmed what we had both come to suspect: he had lung cancer, widely disseminated. In the very hospital where Paul had learned to perform surgery, he was checked into a room and handed a blue patient’s gown. We held each other tightly in his hospital bed, both understanding that the cancer was terminal. Continue reading

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What makes Unfair an ideal first year experience selection?

9780770437763A checklist from Adam Benforado on what makes his Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Justice (Crown, June 2015) ideal for common reading:

√ Student Engagement.   It’s impossible to choose a book that all students will find interesting and relevant, but Unfair comes awfully close. Crime and the responses to crime define our lives—the paths we walk, the rules we follow, the taxes we pay, the shows we watch. And there is something about criminal law stories that hold us by the edge of our seat. The cases I explore have all the drama of Law & Order or CSI episodes, but they’re real and they raise compelling questions: What could lead an otherwise upstanding attorney to conceal a critical piece of evidence from the other side? Why would a person confess to a crime she didn’t commit when under no physical duress? Is it possible to tell whether someone is guilty by looking at a scan of his brain? The answers from psychology and neuroscience are often just as riveting. Continue reading

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A Father Speaks Out About His Transgender Daughter & Their Family Journey

9780812995411By Wayne Maines, father of Nicole Maines.  The Maines family is the focus of Amy Ellis Nutt’s Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family (Random House, October 2015)

Recently I had the opportunity to speak at Bowdoin College, in Brunswick, Maine. Before the lecture I spent an hour walking around their beautiful campus, thinking about how to frame my discussion about equality, harassment and my family without getting too emotional. I was concerned that breaking into tears might distract from my message, which acknowledges that we have indeed come far these past five years, but further stresses that there is still a great deal of work to be done.

I am the proud father of identical twins: one is a boy and one is a girl. My beautiful daughter Nicole is transgender. This talk was important to me, a chance to meet with senior staff, middle management and students and have a conversation about transgender rights in schools. Continue reading

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