Heather Wetzler
November 23, 2017

What does the National Association of Scholars and College students have to do with Career Exploration and Career Readiness?
Well for starters, whether interviewing for an internship or a job, the interviewer may ask, “What was the last book you read?” 

The National Association of Scholars is an independent membership association of academics and others
working to foster intellectual freedom and to sustain the tradition of reasoned scholarship and civil debate
in America’s colleges and universities.
The NAS advocates for excellence by encouraging commitment
to high intellectual standards, individual merit, institutional integrity, good governance, and sound public
policy. Last Year NAS made the news over controversy around Purdue defunding the reading program.

Most of the disagreements over common reading programs have to do with a particular piece of writing, not with the program itself, said Mary Stuart Hunter, associate vice president and executive of the National Resource Center for the First-Year Experience and Students in Transition at the University of South Carolina.

In 2002, opponents failed to block the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from assigning Approaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations. The next year, UNC assigned the equally controversial Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America.

And just this month, the South Carolina House of Representatives refused to reverse a $52,000 retaliatory budget cut at the College of Charleston, which a legislative committee added after the institution assigned Fun Home, a critically acclaimed memoir by a lesbian, as freshman reading. The House also denied the University of South Carolina, Upstate more than $17,000 in funding for required reading programs after campus officials assigned Out Loud: The Best of Rainbow Radio, about the state’s first LGBT radio station.

In recent years, schools have featured books like Rebecca Skloot’s

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,

Malcom Gladwell’s

The Tipping Point and Khaled Hosseini’s A Thousand Splendid Suns.

This year’s selections cover a range of topics; many are nonfiction, and several focus on race, sex and other social issues, which all seem super relevant to today’s current climate.

From a community college in Kentucky to a liberal arts campus in Wisconsin, here are a few of the reading assignments for this year’s freshmen.

The Emerald Mile
The Epic Story of the Fastest Ride in History Though the Heart of the Grand Canyon
by Kevin Fedarko•
Paperback, 417 pages
Utah State University has a class for freshmen designed to prepare them for the Aggie college experience. This year, students in that class are required to read The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko.
The nonfiction work follows the story of three men who ventured down the rapids of the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.
Their 1983 journey in a small wooden boat was the fastest descent of the river ever recorded.
Fedarko spoke at the campus in Logan, Utah, in August 2015.

 

White Girls
by Hilton Als
Paperback, 340 pages
Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston chose the collection of essays titled White Girls by Hilton Als.
The essays about white girls throughout time provide a cultural analysis of art, music, literature and history. Als is a staff writer for The New Yorker.
“Our focus this year is on creating a conversation around national issues pertaining to gender, race and social class,” said professor Gloria Monaghan, who coordinates the program.

 

Native Guard
by Natasha Trethewey•
Paperback, 51 pages
Students entering Lawrence University’s freshman class will read Natasha Trethewey’s Native Guard as the first work of Freshman Studies, the Wisconsin school’s yearlong course for first-year students.
The 2007 book is a collection of Trethewey’s Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry.

A Long Way Gone
Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
by Ishmael Beah•
Paperback, 229 pages
Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., selected A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah. The autobiography follows Beah’s life as a boy soldier fighting in a civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s.
Beah delivered the school’s convocation in September 2015.

Einstein’s Dreams
by Alan Lightman•
Paperback, 140 pages
Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., chose Einstein’s Dreams by Alan Lightman. The fictional work is a collection of short stories based on Albert Einstein’s dreams. The narratives deal with different concepts of time — and Einstein’s thoughts around his theory of relativity. Lightman, a professor at MIT, spoke to Skidmore’s freshman class in September 2015.

 

A Deadly Wandering
A Mystery, a Landmark Investigation, and the Astonishing Science of Attention in the Digital Age
by Matt Richtel•
Paperback, 403 pages
Incoming students at Boise State University in Idaho will receive copies of A Deadly Wandering during summer orientation.
The book tells the story of Utah college student Reggie Shaw, who killed two scientists while texting and driving. The narrative of the accident and its aftermath is paired with the science of distracted driving.
The author, Matt Richtel, spoke on campus in November 2015.

A Companion for Owls
Being the Commonplace Book of D. Boone, Long Hunter, Back Woodsman, &c.
by Maurice Manning•
Hardcover, 128 pages
Students at Owensboro Community and Technical College in Owensboro, Ky., will be reading A Companion for Owls: Being the Commonplace Book of D. Boone Long Hunter, Back Woodsman &c. by Kentucky poet Maurice Manning. The poetry collection tells the story of American pioneer Daniel Boone, one of the first to explore the land that is now the state of Kentucky.
The school often chooses regional writers in order to celebrate and tell Kentucky’s history. The author is a Pulitzer Prize finalist and was at the school in October 2015.

Regardless of what you read – What is the last book you read? –  is a good interview question.

This question is typically asked so that the hiring manager can get a better idea of who you are as a person when you are not working. These types of questions may not be asked at every interview, but it is important to be prepared and be well-read. You do not necessarily have to be well-versed in the literary world, but it helps if you had read something fairly recently.

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