FSU COE's Must-Read List for Every College Student

Jennie Kroeger

January 23-27, 2017 is Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!. The goal of Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida! is to promote literacy throughout the state by raising awareness in your community and with students. The 2017 theme is Literacy Changes Our World.

While the Florida Department of Education is urging schools across the state to get involved, we'd like to dig a little deeper into this year's theme. To encourage and celebrate literacy here in the College of Education and at Florida State University in general, we've compiled a list of must-read books for every college student, according to our faculty and staff.

Kristal Moore Clemons, Online Ed.D. Coordinator and Teaching Faculty I: Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

"I'm a person who likes to read about history, race and culture. This book is all about that. He details his lived experience as a college student in Washington DC though the lens of a Black man. He also talks about working hard to make ends meet after he graduated. He writes this as a letter to his young son. This book is approachable and forces us to think critically about diversity and inclusion in America." , .

Russell Almond, Associate Professor, Measurement and Statistics: Weapons of Math Destruction,' by Cathy O'Neil

This book talks about what can go wrong when we make data-driven decisions without thinking very closely about where the data come from and how biased samples and data mining (or even ordinary statistics) produces biased results.

Terra Bradley, Senior Editor, Office of Research: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

It's a story about people who do things' and it has a little bit of everything: mystery, romance, philosophy, economics, and adventure. In many ways, we're living it; it is perhaps more culturally relevant today than it was fifty-plus years ago when it was published. It's a life-changing book."

Rebecca Pfeiffer, Director of Accreditation, Dean's Office: Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon

This book discusses how parents learn to accept and love their children that have significant challenges and/or divergent identities from their parents, including deafness, dwarfism, Down syndrome, autism, schizophrenia, multiple severe disabilities, children who are prodigies, who are conceived in rape, who become criminal, and who are transgender.

Marcy Driscoll, Dean and Professor: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

"This is a fascinating book about ethics and medicine, with the central character becoming an involuntary martyr, so to speak. Being in the midst of segregation in the 1950s, Lacks, a poor black woman with cervical cancer, was unable to receive the care she needed and ultimately passed away; however, doctors harvested her cells without her knowledge and continue to use them to this day for a wide array of important medical research. The author is able to take highly technical medical information and make it easy to understand; I couldn't put the book down."

Elizabeth Jakubowski, Associate Professor, Mathematics Education: 1984 by George Orwell

"This was required reading when I was in college because it was thought to foreshadow or predict what might occur during the 20th Century. There are so many parallels that can be drawn between current events and the fictionalized country it described."

Deborah Kelly, Receptionist, Office of Academic Services and Intern Support (OASIS): Death Without Company by Craig Johnson

"The book combines a Sherlock-style murder mystery with elements of sociology and history. The author's writing style is perfect for creative writing/English students who wish to further develop their craft. It has the added bonus of taking the reader away from stress and negativity, reminding us of why we used to escape with a good book ' reading for the sake of enjoyment.

Sandra Lewis, Professor, Visual Disabilities Education: Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

"This book provides an interesting insight into how some families in this country feel as though they are not benefiting from the American dream and why the children in those families struggle to lead a better life than their parents.

Susan Losh, Associate Professor, Learning and Cognition: How to Convince Someone When Facts Fail by Michael Shermer (published in Scientific American)

"Too many educators believe that simply presenting factual material is persuasive. I wish it were that easy. Currently one of my students are I are studying adult general public perception of agreement among scientists about climate change. Despite the increase in scientific consensus, the general public's perception decreased between 2006 and 2010. Although several facets of education have some influence on these perceptions (level of education, exposure to science classes), so far the most important predictor is political party affiliation. The Scientific American article in part addresses issues such as this.

Mary Kate McKee, Academic Program Specialist, Educational Psychology and Learning Systems: The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

It is a wonderfully written book about the French Resistance.

Grady Powell, IT Support Specialist, Office of Information and Instructional Technologies: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

"Ernest Cline covers the ideal use of virtual reality in the classroom in his novel Ready Player One.' I highly recommend it both for its ingenuity with virtual reality implementation and also because it's an amazing read.

Robert Reiser, Associate Dean for Research and Professor: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

"Today's world presents all of us, including college students, with lots of difficult challenges, and it isn't easy to adequately address them. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,' the title character is also faced with numerous challenges. The travails Huck encounters and the unsavory characters he deals with as he travels down the Mississippi River with the runaway slave Jim are delightfully described, as are the ways he handles these matters. But more importantly, the developing relationship between Huck and Jim is beautifully portrayed, leading up to the moment, in Chapter 31, when Huck has to decide whether to help Jim escape from slavery. The section of this chapter in which Huck makes his decision is one of most moving passages in fiction that I have ever read. Unfortunately, the last third of the book goes downhill a bit, but in my opinion, the first two-thirds alone make The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn' a must-read for college students.

Jenny Root, Assistant Professor, Special Education: Look me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's by John Elder Robinson

"Robinson describes his struggle with his neurological difference and how it impacted his desires and efforts to forge relationships. Reading this book will help college students understand both the perspective and experiences of individuals with Aspergers as well as their own struggles with social interactions and sense of belonging.

Ian Whitacre, Assistant Professor, Elementary Mathematics Education: 'They Say/I Say': The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing by Gerald Graff and Cathy Birkenstein

This book will help students learn how to write like a scholar.


To learn more about Celebrate Literacy Week, Florida!, click here.