Category Archives: Writing for Writers

Recommend for First-Year Composition and Rhetoric courses.

A Long Way Gone

A Long Way Gone

Sarah Crichton Books/
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
240 pages • $13.00
ISBN: 978-0-374-53126-3

Memoirs of a Boy Soldier

Ishmael Beah

“[Beah’s] honesty is exacting, and a testament to the ability of children ‘to outlive their sufferings, if given a chance.’”—The New Yorker

This is how wars are fought now: by children, hopped-up on drugs and wielding AK-47s. At the age of twelve, Beah fled attacking rebels in Sierra Leone and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, he had been picked up by the government army, and Beah, at heart a gentle boy, found that he was capable of truly terrible acts. At sixteen, he was removed from fighting by UNICEF, and through the help of the staff at his rehabilitation center, he learned how to forgive himself, to regain his humanity, and finally, to heal. “Everyone in the world should read this book. Not just because it contains an amazing story, or because it’s our moral, bleeding-heart duty, or because it’s clearly written. We should read it to learn about the world and about what it means to be human.”—Carolyn See, The Washington Post Book World

Ishmeal Beah © John Madere

© John Madere

Ishmael Beah is a UNICEF Ambassador and Advocate for Children Affected by War; a member of the Human Rights Watch Children’s Rights Advisory Committee; and president of the Ishmael Beah Foundation. Radiance of Tomorrow, his first novel, is also published by Sarah Crichton Books. You can follow him on Twitter at @IshmaelBeah.

A Long Way Gone has been adopted for more than sixty-five First-Year Experience programs:

Adams State College (CO); Appalachian State University (NC); Ball State University (IN); Boston University; Central College (IA); Coastal Carolina University (SC); College of the Holy Cross (MA); College of Wooster (OH); Columbus State University (GA); Community College of Baltimore County; Cushing Academy (MA); Durham Technical Community College (NC); Eastern Kentucky University; Florida Community College, Jacksonville; Florida Gulf Coast University; Grand Valley State University (MI); Greensboro College (NC); Gwynedd-Mercy College (PA); Henderson State University (AR); Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis; Iowa Lakes Community College; Johnson State College (VT); Juniata College (PA); Kennesaw State University (GA); Lakeland College (WI); Millersville University (PA); Morningside College (IA); New York Institute of Technology; Newbury College (MA); Northern Arizona University; Otterbein College (OH); Pennsylvania State University, Abington; Ramapo College (NJ); Rhode Island College; The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey; Roger Williams University (RI); Stockton College (NJ); Stonehill College (MA); SUNY, Brockport; SUNY, Buffalo; SUNY, Old Westbury; SUNY, Potsdam; Syracuse University (NY); Texas A&M International University; University of Akron; University of Iowa; University of Kentucky; University of Maine; University of North Carolina, Greensboro; University of North Carolina, Wilmington/University College; University of Pittsburgh, Johnstown; University of Tennessee; University of Toledo; University of Utah, Logan; University of Vermont; University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh; Utah State University; Valparaiso University (IN); Washburn University (KS); Webster University (MO); Wright State University (OH)

This I Believe

This I Believe

320 pages • $16.00
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8658-4

The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

Edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman

Foreword by Studs Terkel

Introduction by Jay Allison

“This cumulative effect of the these ‘personal credos’ is inspiring and invigorating.”—Elizabeth Taylor, Chicago Tribune

Based on the National Public Radio series of the same name, this book features eighty essayists—from the famous to the unknown—completing the thought that begins the book’s title. Each piece compels readers to rethink not only how they have arrived at their own personal beliefs but also the extent to which they share them with others. Featuring a well-known list of contributors—including Isabel Allende, Colin Powell, Gloria Steinem, William F. Buckley Jr., Penn Jillette, Bill Gates, and John Updike—the collection also contains essays by a Brooklyn lawyer; a part-time hospital clerk from Rehoboth, Massachusetts; a woman who sells Yellow Pages advertising in Fort Worth, Texas; and a man who serves on the state of Rhode Island’s parole board. The result is a trip inside the minds and hearts of a diverse group of people whose beliefs—and the incredibly varied ways in which they choose to express them—reveal the American spirit at its best.

Included are guidelines for students writing their own This I Believe essays.

“Essays from the original series are interleaved with contemporary essays (selected from more than 11,000 submissions) to create a resounding chorus.”—Donna Seaman, Booklist

Jay Allison © Nubar Alexanian

© Nubar Alexanian

Dan Gediman © Nubar Alexanian

© Nubar Alexanian

Jay Allison is an independent broadcast journalist and a six-time Peabody Award winner. He hosted and produced This I Believe on NPR and is the founder of the public radio station on Cape Cod.

Dan Gediman is currently the Executive Director of This I Believe, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Louisville, Kentucky.

This I Believe has been adopted for more than ninety First-Year Experience programs:

Aquinas College (MI); Avila University (MO); Baker University (KS); Barry University (FL); Bates College (ME); Bellarmine University (KY); Bluefield College (VA); Bowling Green State University (OH); Bucknell University (PA); California State University, San Marcos; Cathedral High School (MA); Cedar Crest College (PA); Central Washington University; Clemson University (SC); Coker College (SC); College of Dupage (IL); Columbus State University (GA); Concord University (WV); Craven Community College (NC); Dakota Wesleyan University (SD); Dominican College (NY); Eastern Illinois University; Elmhurst College (IL); Endicott College (MA); Florida Atlantic University; Florida State University; Georgia College; Georgia Highlands University; Gettysburg College Ascent Program (PA); Harrison High School (NY); Jacksonville State University (AL); Jacksonville University (FL); Kaskaskia College (IL); Kent State University (OH); LIM College (NY); Lindsey Wilson College (KY); Louisburg College (NC); Louisiana Tech University; Loyola University, Chicago; Medaille College (NY); Middle Tennessee State University; Minnesota State University, Mankato; Mitchell College (CT); Morehead State University (KY); Northern Arizona University; Northern Kentucky University; Pace University (NY); Penn State Berks (IL); Penn State Berks (PA);  Ripon College (WI); Roberts Wesleyan College (NY); Roosevelt University (IL) (two consecutive years!); Seton Hall University (NJ); Seton Hill University (PA); Shepherd University (WV); Shorter University (GA); Southern Connecticut State University;  Southern Vermont College; Springfield College (MA); Stonehill College (MA); St. Mary’s High School (NY); SUNY, Binghamton; SUNY, Brockport; Tufts University (MA); University of Central Arkansas, Honors College; University of Dayton (OH); University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; University of Louisiana, Monroe (two years!); University of Louisville (KY) (three consecutive years!); University of New Orleans; University of Tennessee at Chattanooga; University of Vermont; Washburn University (KS); William Paterson University (NJ); William Woods University (MO)

This I Believe II

This I Believe II

288 pages • $15.00
ISBN: 978-0-8050-9089-5

More Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women

Edited by Jay Allison and Dan Gediman

With John Gregory and Viki Merrick

“By turns moving, thoughtful, cheering and heartbreaking, in an age of irony these essays offer a little something to believe in.” —Colette Bancroft, St. Petersburg Times

This second collection of This I Believe essays gathers seventy-five more essayists—including writers known and unknown—who complete the thought that begins in the book’s title. Among the contributors are musicians Yo-Yo Ma and Bela Fleck, Elie Wiesel, the founder, and an anthropology student at the University of Chicago. Each piece, whether poignant or humorous, compels the reader to think about how they have formed their own personal beliefs and about the extent to which they express them to others.

This edition also contains an appendix on how to write a This I Believe essay. “This book opens with a formidable challenge: ‘What would you say in five hundred words to capture a core principle that guides your life?’ Before you try to answer that question, you might want to read some of the 75 essays collected in This I Believe II. Many will leave you breathless. And those that don’t astonish may simply humble you.”—Majorie Kehe, The Christian Science Monitor

Jay Allison © Nubar Alexanian

© Nubar Alexanian

Dan Gediman © Nubar Alexanian

© Nubar Alexanian

Jay Allison, the host and curator of This I Believe, is an independent broadcast journalist.

Dan Gediman is the executive producer of This I Believe.

This I Believe II has been adopted for more than thirty First-Year Experience programs:

Aquinas College (MI); Barry University (FL); Broward College (FL); Eastern Illinois University; Endicott College (MA); Ivy Tech Community College, Kokomo (IN); LIM College (NY) (two consecutive years!); Lindsey Wilson College (KY); Longwood University (VA); Lynchburg College (VA); Marietta College (OH); Miami University at Ohio; Middle Tennessee State University; Middlesex Community College (MA); North Central College (IL); Northern Illinois University; Penn State University, Brandywine; Rivier University (NH); Rowan University (NJ); Stockton College (NJ); Tennessee Tech University (two consecutive years); Texas Woman’s University; Union College (KY); University of Dayton (OH); University of Wisconsin, Parkside; Virginia Tech

Beautiful Souls

Beautiful Souls

208 pages • $15.00
ISBN: 978-1-250-02408-4

The Courage and Conscience of Ordinary People in Extraordinary Times

Eyal Press

“[Beautiful Souls] provides rich, provocative narratives of moral choice . . . Press makes us wonder if we would have the strength to act against the crowd, and in so doing spread a bit of light in our own dark times.”—Michael S. Roth, The Washington Post

On the Swiss border with Austria in 1938, a police captain refuses to enforce a law barring Jewish refugees from entering his country.

In the Balkans half a century later, a Serb from the war-blasted city of Vukovar defies his superiors in order to save the lives of Croats.

At the height of the Second Intifada, a member of Israel’s most elite military unit informs his commander he doesn’t want to serve in the occupied territories.

History has produced many specimens of the banality of evil, but what about its flip side, what impels ordinary people to defy the sway of authority and convention? Eyal Press explores the flip side of banality through dramatic stories of unlikely resisters who feel the flicker of conscience when thrust into morally compromising situations.

Press shows that the boldest acts of dissent are often carried out not by radicals seeking to overthrow the system but by true believers who cling with unusual fierceness to their convictions. Drawing on groundbreaking research by moral psychologists and neuroscientists, Beautiful Souls examines the choices and dilemmas we all face when our principles collide with the loyalties we harbor and the duties we are expected to fulfill. The book culminates with the story of a financial industry whistleblower who loses her job after refusing to sell a toxic product she rightly suspects is being misleadingly advertised.

Eyal Press © Todd France

© Todd France

Eyal Press is the author of Absolute Convictions. His work has appeared in The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, The Nation, The Raritan Review and numerous other publications. He lives in New York City.

Beautiful Souls has been adopted for First-Year Experience programs at:

Brown University (RI); College of the Holy Cross (MA); Middlesex School (MA); Pennsylvania State University; Pennsylvania State University, Berks; St. Joseph’s College (NY); Queens University (NC); Washington College (MD)

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The Empathy Exams

The Empathy Exams

Graywolf Press
256 pages • $16.00
ISBN: 978-1-555-97671-2


Leslie Jamison

Winner of the Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize

“[Jamison] writes consistently with passion and panache; her sentences are elegantly formed, her voice on the page intimate and insistent.”—Phillip Lopate, San Francisco Chronicle

Beginning with her experience as a medical actor who was paid to act out symptoms for medical students to diagnose, Leslie Jamison’s visceral and revealing essays ask essential questions about our basic understanding of others: How should we care about each other? How can we feel another’s pain, especially when pain can be assumed, distorted, or performed? Is empathy a tool by which to test or even grade each other? By confronting pain—real and imagined, her own and others’—Jamison uncovers a personal and cultural urgency to feel. She draws from her own experiences of illness and bodily injury to engage in an exploration that extends far beyond her life, spanning wide-ranging territory—from poverty tourism to phantom diseases, street violence to reality television, illness to incarceration—in its search for a kind of sight shaped by humility and grace. “Jamison writes with sober precision and unusual vulnerability, with a tendency to circle back and reexamine, to deconstruct and anticipate the limits of her own perspective, and a willingness to make her own medical and psychological history the objects of her examinations. Her insights are often piercing and poetic.”—The New Yorker

© Colleen Kinder

Leslie Jamison is the author of a novel, The Gin Closet, which was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. Her essays have appeared in Believer, Harper’s Magazine, Oxford American, and Tin House. She lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

The Empathy Exams has been adopted for First-Year Experience programs at:

Kalamazoo College (MI); Whitman College (WA)



Graywolf Press
160 pages • $20.00
ISBN: 978-1-55597-690-3

An American Lyric

Claudia Rankine

Winner of the Jackson Poetry Prize
Winner of the PEN Open Book Award
Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award
Finalist for the 2014 National Book Award in Poetry 

“Part protest lyric, part art book, Citizen is a dazzling expression of the painful double consciousness of black life in America.” —Michael Lindgren, The Washington Post

Claudia Rankine’s new book—“a precise, complex, clear-eyed, and masterful work of art” (Guernica)—recounts mounting racial aggressions in ongoing encounters in twenty-first-century daily life and in the media. Some of these encounters are slights, seemingly slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV—everywhere, all the time. The accumulative stresses come to bear on a person’s ability to speak, perform, and stay alive. Our addressability is tied to the state of our belonging, Rankine argues, as are our assumptions and expectations of citizenship. In essay, image, and poetry, Citizen is a powerful testament to the individual and collective effects of racism in our contemporary, often named “post-race” society. “It is a swift and gripping read.” —Boston Review

© John Lucas

© John Lucas

Claudia Rankine is the author of four previous books, including Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric. She currently teaches at Pomona College.

Citizen has been adopted for First-Year Experience programs at:

Assumption College (MA); Art Institute of Chicago (IL); Bard College (NY); Brandeis University (MA); College of the Canyons (CA); Colorado College; Grand Valley State University (MI); Hobart and William Smith Colleges (NY); Howard University (DC); Keene State College (NH); LaGrange College (GA); Millsaps College (MS); Mount Holyoke College (MA); New York University Tisch School of the Arts; Northern Michigan University; Pomona College (CA); Ramapo College (NJ); Rhodes College (TN); St. Cloud State University (MN); SUNY Cortland; University of Arizona, Tucson Honors College; University of Kansas; University of La Verne (CA); University of Nebraska Lincoln; Washington College (MD); Washington University in St. Louis (MO)

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The Sellout

The Sellout

304 pages • $16.00
ISBN: 978-1-250-08325-8

A Novel

Paul Beatty

Winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize 

Winner of the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award in Fiction

The Sellout is a comic masterpiece, but it’s much more
than just that—it’s one of the smartest and most honest reflections on race and identity in America in a very long time, written by an author who truly understands what it means to talk about the history of the country.”—NPR

A biting satire about a young man’s isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty’s The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant. Born in the “agrarian ghetto” of Dickens—on the southern outskirts of Los Angeles—the narrator of The Sellout resigns himself to the fate of lower-middle-class Californians. Raised by a single father, a controversial sociologist, he spent his childhood as the subject in racially charged psychological studies. He is led to believe that his father’s pioneering work will result in a memoir that will solve his family’s financial woes. But when his father is killed in a police shoot-out, he realizes there never was a memoir. Fueled by this deceit and the general disrepair of his hometown, the narrator sets out to right another wrong: Dickens has literally been removed from the map to save California from further embarrassment. Enlisting the help of the town’s most famous resident—the last surviving Little Rascal, Hominy Jenkins—he initiates the most outrageous action conceivable: reinstating slavery and segregating the local high school, which lands him in the Supreme Court.

Paul Beatty

© Hannah Assouline

Paul Beatty is the author of the novels TuffSlumberland, and The White Boy Shuffle, and the poetry collections Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He was the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. He lives in New York City.