Dicta

The home of “things said” by the National Association of Scholars.

College Summer Reading: A Mandated Dive Into ‘Oppressed Minorities’

Rachelle Peterson

NAS Policy Director Rachelle Peterson evaluates the current state of common reading programs, beginning with a bizarre choice by Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Required Reading

NAS

A State Representative in Iowa has introduced a bill to make Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago a required read for high school graduation.

Mediocre Books Confirmed

Peter Wood

A comment on a recent study noting the unchallenging nature of common reading program books. 

Common Reading for Common Activism

David Randall

Common reading programs should be for exposing college students to excellent literature, not propaganda. 

Hillsdale's Common Reading Program

David Randall

 A common reading program deserving of replication.

Virginia Tech's Welcome Mat: Diversity Edu

Ashley Thorne

Students at Virginia Tech and other universities are being "nudged" into diversity with a new and costly not-for-credit course. 

North Carolina Beach Books

NAS

NAS Director of Communications David Randall writes about Beach Books in North Carolina.

Comic Books in a Liberal Education

David Randall

NAS Director of Communications David Randall discusses the proper role of comic books in a liberal education.

Students Will Rise When Colleges Challenge Them to Read Good Books

David Randall

Executive Director Ashley Thorne writes about college common readings in The Chronicle.

Concordia College Publicizes Beach Books Praise

David Randall

Concordia College writes about its commendation in this year's Beach Books report.

NAS Communications Director David Randall Featured in Radio Interview

NAS

Trent England of the Thoughtful Patriot interviewed David Randall about the latest Beach Books report.

Beach Books Burnish Bernie

David Randall

Shallow pre-college reading assignments pave the way for the social justice agenda.

The Wall Street Journal Features Beach Books: 2014-2015 in "Notable & Quotable"

NAS

Common reading programs are back in the spotlight.

Beach Books: 2014-2016

A report on the books assigned in 2014-2016 as "common reading."

On Beach Books

Bruce Gans

Bruce Gans writes on what summer reading for incoming freshmen should be.

Better Beach Books?

Peter Wood

NAS welcomes readers’ suggestions of titles for college common reading. 

'Challenging' Students Is Not Achieved with Sexual Pictures

Ashley Thorne

Ashley Thorne argues that college common readings need to challenge students intellectually - and that graphic novels don't do that.

College Common Readings: Trapped in the Present

Peter Wood

University common reading programs fail to show students the value of learning from the past. 

Comments on Freshman Reading

Ashley Thorne

A new article on college summer reading programs agrees with NAS's findings: fiction, classics, and books older than the students are extremely rare.

Summer 2015 Academic Questions: "Common Readings, Uncommon Conversations"

NAS

The new issue of Academic Questions takes on questions about common readings, "translingualism," and more. 

College Un-Ready

NAS

NAS board member Sandra Stotsky writes about the failures of the Common Core State Standards to prepare students for truly college-level reading and thinking.

Those Stubborn Classics

Ashley Thorne

Colleges think classic books are irrelevant, too difficult, and too privileged. They’re wrong. 

Joseph Epstein on the Beach Books report

Ashley Thorne

Renowned essayist Joseph Epstein reflects on NAS's latest report on college freshman reading. 

Beach Books and Blind Dates

Ashley Thorne

NAS Executive Director Ashley Thorne writes on colleges that lower the bar for incoming students

Beach Books: 2013-2014

Peter Wood

A report on the books assigned in 2013-2014 as "common reading."

Building a Community?

Anthony Esolen

Anthony Esolen, Professor of English at Providence College and translator of classic works, discusses how a classical common core promotes intellectual life, communion, and wonder. 

Bartleby Goes to College

Ashley Thorne

Le Moyne College chose a story by Melville as its freshman reading assignment, citing NAS on the merits of choosing classic literature. 

Caught with Gay Books: South Carolina Punishes Colleges for Freshman Reading Choices

Ashley Thorne

South Carolina cuts funding from college common reading programs that assign gay-themed books.

Beach Books Roundup

Tessa Carter

Join the conversation around NAS's August report Beach Books 2012-2013.

The Reader's Progress

Ashley Thorne

It's never too early to introduce students to classic reads.

HuffPost Live Discussion on Recent Books vs. Classics

NAS

Ashley Thorne appeared on HuffPost Live to discuss the broader consequences of college common reading consisting almost entirely of recent books.

Readers Weigh In on Teaching the Classics

NAS

Readers respond to Ashley Thorne's analysis of common reading at American colleges and universities.

Why Are American Universities Shying Away from the Classics?

Ashley Thorne

U.S. colleges increasingly view anything published before 1990 as 'inaccessible' for students. So much for timeless themes.

Not So Immortal: The Compromised Life of Common Reading Programs

Peter Wood

Peter Wood on what common reading assignments say about the intellectual life of colleges.

7 More Recommended Books for College Common Reading

Peter Wood

We've added seven more books to our list of recommendations for college common reading programs.

What Are Kids Reading?

Ashley Thorne

NAS board member Sandra Stotsky writes about the low levels of reading in our schools today.

NAS Beach Books Reports Reflected in MLA Panel Discussion

Glenn Ricketts

Our ongoing report on common reading is recognized at the MLA convention.

UNC Hosts Stage Adaptation of Common Book Assignment 'Eating Animals'

Ashley Thorne

This fall the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hosted several events related to its common reading assignment, Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer. 

Meatlessness and Sustainability, Part 1

Ashley Thorne

How is vegetarianism connected to sustainability? Ashley Thorne decides to find out.

Missed Opportunities in College Common Reading: A Response to Brendan Boyle

Ashley Thorne

Ashley Thorne replies to a professor of classics at UNC-Chapel Hill who wishes for more fiction in college summer reading assignments.

Beach Books: 2011-2012

Ashley Thorne

A report on the books assigned in 2011–2012 as "common reading."

Treasure Abandoned: College Common Reading Programs Continue to Miss the Best Books

Ashley Thorne

An English professor's sense of the inadequacy of This I Believe as the choice for freshman summer reading echoes NAS's calls for more rigor in common book programs.

Campus Favorite Greg Mortenson, Writing Lies?

Ashley Thorne

A recent journalistic investigation of a popular author, whose non-fiction books are often chosen as college "common reading," raised numerous questions as to his credibility.

'Diversity: The Invention of a Concept' Makes 'Dissenting Book' List

Ashley Thorne

The David Horowitz Freedom Center has listed NAS President Peter Wood's book Diversity: The Invention of a Concept in its inventory of "150+ Books You Should Be Reading In Class, But Probably Aren't." Diversity is featured this week as part of the Center's "Adopt a Dissenting Book" campaign. Thanks to the Freedom Center for the plug, and we certainly encourage student to take its advice and learn the truth about the roots of the campus "diversity" movement. It's not something colleges and universities are transparent about, and it will help you distinguish diversity as an ideology from diversity as physical and cultural variation. In The New Criterion, John Derbyshire called Diversity "a fine book, full of cogent arguments, curious facts, and nasty slimy things that burrowed away unnoticed under the foundations of our culture till Professor Wood turned them up with his trowel." We don't want today's students to miss those arguments, facts, and slimy things.

Beyond Beach Books

Peter Wood

What's next for campus common reading programs?

Huffington Post Article on NAS's Recommended Books

Ashley Thorne

Our book list is featured in a HuffPo slideshow.

Back from the Beach: Common Reading on the Rise at Top Colleges

Ashley Thorne

Last week NAS released a new list of books colleges assign as common reading. It includes over 100 additions and updates to the original ("Beach Books"), making it the most comprehensive and current resource on campus common reading in 2010. Our major finding this time: 93% of top universities have common reading programs.

Back from the Beach: 100 New Books

Ashley Thorne

NAS's updated database is the most reliable and current resource on American college common reading.

New Series on Common Reading at NAS.org

Ashley Thorne

To make it easier for our readers to find our work on college common reading, we created a new article series on the NAS website, www.nas.org. You can find these articles by going to the green "Article Series" button on the left sidebar of the homepage, and clicking "Common Reading Project" on the flyout menu. We'll soon add a button on the homepage for our "Better Books" for common reading programs. Our study on common reading is a platform we aim to build on in future undertakings, so stay tuned for further developments, and let us know your suggestions for additional related projects.

CUNY Affiliate Urges Common Reading Transparency

Dorothy Lang

The CUNY Association of Scholars gives Brooklyn College three recommendations for improving its freshman book assignment.

Better Books for Next Year's Beaches

Ashley Thorne

Remember the Beach Books report on common reading programs? It showed that U.S. colleges and universities are generally picking lightweight, politically biased books as yearlong "theme" books for students. This morning NAS released a list of our own recommendations for common reading programs. Our picks range from Plato to William Least Heat-Moon, and include Darwin’s The Voyage of the Beagle, Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities, and the book of Ecclesiastes. We encourage colleges to consult our list when considering books for 2011. If you know of a college or university with a common reading program (see this list of colleges that do), please feel free to share our list and see if they have a comment. Next week we'll publish our updated database (with over 80 changes) of books colleges selected in 2010.

Read These Instead: Better Books for Next Year's Beaches

Peter Wood

NAS's picks for college common reading programs.

Common Reading Controversy at Brooklyn College

Ashley Thorne

Is Brooklyn College using freshman reading for ideological goals?

Another Fox News Segment on NAS Freshman Summer Reading Study

Steve Doocy and Tucker Carlson discuss NAS's "Beach Books" study on Fox and Friends (VIDEO).

Ashley Thorne on FOX News

Ashley Thorne

Today NAS director of communications spoke about the "Beach Books" study on freshman summer reading.

Reply to Wilson on Freshman Books

Ashley Thorne

A response to John K. Wilson's reaction to the NAS report "Beach Books: What Do Colleges Want Students to Read Outside Class?"