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.
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.
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.
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.