Thursday, February 05, 2009

Outstanding Books for the College Bound

Three years pass in a blink of an eye when one is having fun. It was three years ago that I accepted an appointment to serve on the Outstanding Books for the College Bound and Lifelong Learners committee. A 15 member committee assigned the daunting task of finding engaging books for students wanting to attend college or those wanting to keep abreast of readings in a particular field of study.

Within our group the fields of study were divided into five with three members assigned to a particular area. I served on the Science and Technology. The other areas include Social Sciences, History and Cultures, Arts and Humanities, and Literature and Language Arts.

As a member of this committee, we promised to attend all meetings with the possibility of one missed session. Meetings were scheduled twice during annual and midwinter conferences of the American Library Association on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. In the early stages we canceled the Sunday meetings for lack of work.

This is the story of how we rolled. At the first meeting, we did introductions and divided into groups. At the second meeting, we read the previous mission statement for the Science and Technology sub-committee and developed our own. At the third meeting, we discussed all the past books on the S&T list and decided on those that needed to be reconsidered. At the fourth meeting, we began the process of nominating books and reading nominees. At the fifth meeting we talked about the books nominated and possible books in the same category that might be better. During our sixth and last meeting, we decided on the books for the list and wrote annotations for those books.

I heard other groups did a little less looking back at the old lists and began nominating books and reading new stuff from the point after writing the individual mission statements at the second meeting. I see how this would be essential for those whose lists of books were enormous like Literature and Language Arts and History and Cultures.

I found it amazing how we all seemed to be done at the same time that last Sunday afternoon meeting. Our group wrote the annotations over night at our separate hotels then edited them at that last meeting. We were packing up to leave when our fierce leader, Sarajo Wentling, suggested we all read our different lists to expose dupes.

As a nicety to my readers here is the Science and Technology list.

1.) God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment by Scott Adams
2.) Feed by M.T. Anderson
3.) Super Crunchers: Why Thinking-By-Numbers is the New Way to Be Smart by Ian Ayres
4.) Damned Lies and Statistics: Untangling Numbers from the Media, Politicians, and Activists by Joel Best
5.) A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
6.) The Devil’s Teeth: A True Story of Obsession and Survival among America’s Great White Sharks by Susan Casey
7.) The Taste of Sweet: Our Complicated Love Affair with Our Favorite Treats by Joanne Chen
8.) Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
9.) Another Day in the Frontal Lobe: A Brain Surgeon Exposes Life on the Inside by Katrina Firlik
10.) Weather Makers: How Man Is Changing the Climate and What It Means for Life on Earth by Tim Flannery
11.) The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why it Matters by Rose George
12.) The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Phillip M. Hoose
13.) Out of Orbit: The Incredible True Story of Three Astronauts Who Were Hundreds of Miles Above Earth When They Lost Their Ride Home by Chris Jones
14.) A Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold
15.) Mosque by David Macaulay
16.) Way We Work: Getting to Know the Amazing Human Body by David Macaulay
17.) American Earth: Environmental Writing since Thoreau edited by Bill McKibben
18.) Greasy Rider: Two Dudes, One Fry-Oil-Powered Car, and a Cross-Country Search for a Greener Future by Greg Melville
19.) The Botany of Desire: a Plant’s Eye View of the World by Michael Pollan
20.) The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring by Richard Preston
21.) Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach
22.) Hidden Face of God: How Science Reveals the Ultimate Truth by Gerald Schroeder
23.) The Radioactive Boy Scout: The True Story of a Boy and His Backyard Nuclear Reactor by Ken Silverstein
24.) The Genomics Age: How DNA Technology is Transforming the Way We Live and Who We Are by Gina Smith
25.) Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science--From the Babylonians to the Maya by Dick Teresi


Eva said...

Thanks for posting 'your list! :) When does the full one get released?

maggie moran said...

I was told March, Eva, but I wouldn't hold my breath. We will be presenting in 2010 b/c ALA didn't know if they would have it published by this summer. :P

sage said...

I've read the Sand County Alamanc--that's not a very good showing is it?

maggie moran said...

I think you read the best of the list Sage! Good Job! :D

Cipriano said...

I find this whole process completely fascinating.
I wish I was required.
Or at least standing there somewhere going "Uh-huh" or "Nu-huh" as required!

maggie moran said...

The book discussion are the best part, and we didn't start until the second year, Cipriano! That's a long time to get to the good stuff! ;)

Debi said...

Well, six of those are already on my TBR pile. But pathetic old me has read exactly zero of them. My husband will be thrilled to see A Sand County Almanac on's one of his favorites! Thanks for posting the list, Maggie! Can't wait to see the rest of it.

maggie moran said...

Why don't you start with A Sandy County Almanac. This way you can finally share with hubby, Debi. ;D Um, I'm beginning to think I should take my list off until it is in publication.

Susie said...

With a teenager heading into those years, this is a list I need to diligently read. Thanks!

maggie moran said...

Ew, Susie! What are your son's hobbies and I'll be on the lookout for good books for him as a sideline. Kinda my hobby. :)

Anonymous said...

You have been tagged here:

maggie moran said...

Oh Great, Violette! Thanks!!! :D

Anonymous said...

Maggie, how about a pic of the most beautiful Librarian in Mississippi ? :-)

Tiffany Norris said...

Cool list! I'll pass it along to my college-bound cousins. :)

Lisa said...

Maggie, I didn't know you were involved with this. That's extremely cool! Thanks for sharing this.

Keetha said...

What a fine thing to be involved with. Yea you!

And thanks for the list. A number of titles sound interesting and readable even to a nonscience person. :-)

maggie moran said...

I'll talk to PR Paul! *blush*

Hey, that's great Tiffany! We have some really good stuff on all the lists and I look forward to it being common knowledge! :)

Thanks Lisa! It was nice going to ALA with a purpose! :)

Thanks Keetha! This was our goal! Sucker those in who don't like science yet have some great titles for the readers who do! It's a mixed reading list! :)

Anonymous said...

Hmm, I tried to write a comment but blogger did not play nice and deleted it.

Thanks for sharing this list - I will have to forward it onto our teen services librarian.

I read about those two librarians who were killed coming back from the conference. Did you know them? My condolences if so.

maggie moran said...

No! I haven't heard Lesley! Were they Mississippians? Must google!

maggie moran said...

Oh, I'm sorry to hear this, but the two were Alaskian librarians. You must of thought AK meant Arkansas, Lesley. How sad for their families. It was snowing on our way to the airport, but I thought the taxi driver did an excellent job. Just sad.

ricklibrarian said...


Thanks for the list. I will ponder these.


maggie moran said...

That's great Rick! Maybe, you will find something to read like I always do at your blog! :)

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