Near the end of the year, American universities are entering the final exam period. Schools and public libraries often see students writing essays or reviewing exams overnight, and desks are full of course materials and tutorials. What books do American college students read? What must be read in their syllabus? By looking at the “Hot Books” in the American Library, students can preview and enrich their book knowledge in advance, and people can see the emphasis and limitations of different schools.
Book list reflects school characteristics
The U.S. non-profit organization “Open Syllabus Project” (OSP) is an online database that collects curriculum outlines for English-speaking countries and library books. As of May this year, the database has collected 7 million syllabuses from more than 2,500 universities and 80 countries. The main function of this website is to help people understand the reference books for students in the teaching of higher education.
On the OSP project website, you can not only see the books recommended and used the most by famous universities around the world, but also retrieve course outlines and recommended books based on professional fields, schools and regions. In this overall list, William Strenker Jr.’s “Elements of Writing Style” is currently the most borrowed, with a frequency of more than 10,000 appearances. The well-known books in the top ten include Plato’s “Ideal Country”. , The Communist Manifesto of Marx and Engels, The Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, etc.
Many western media believe that lists such as OSP make higher education less “mysterious”. By querying the curricula and library lending lists of various universities, people can see the style and quality of students at a glance. In Harvard’s list of books, number one is “Pool Bowling Alone” by Robert Putnam, a professor of public policy, which discusses the rise and fall of American civil society. Stanford University ’s top book list is John Hughes’s Principles and Practice of Computer Graphics. The top ten books in this school are basically covered by science and technology majors. It can be seen that Stanford, a leader in Silicon Valley, owns A huge number of technology talents.
Coexistence of classic and popular academic books
There are many factors that affect the ranking of different books. In the “Academic Supreme” OSP ranking, the books and syllabus requirements are closely related.
How do American colleges choose required readings? Professor Thomas Mazaneck of the University of California, Santa Barbara told the Global Times reporter that there are three main sources for teachers to choose a bibliography: “First, the publisher will send new books to scholars in related fields. University professors can Receive a steady stream of academic books in this specialty, so as to grasp what new books are in this field; Second, many academic journals will invite experts in related fields to write book reviews. In the process, you can access many important books, choose high-quality and curriculum Relevant recommendations are given to students. Third, some scholars will introduce their academic monographs to university educators through emails, blogs, etc. “In short, the curriculum requirements of different universities and the interests of professors will be reflected in the OSP list.
However, the top and unshakable on the list are basically some classic and practical academic books. For example, “Elements of Writing Style”, which is at the top of the OSP list, is a classic course in academic writing. It is enduring in the United States. In 2011, Time magazine listed the book as the 100 most influential books from 1923 to the present. One of the books. It can top the list not only because of its huge practicality, but also because it is not subject to professional restrictions. Classical books, such as “The Nation”, are the cornerstones of western philosophy and thought. They are classics that many universities require students to read regardless of their major. Books such as the Communist Manifesto, which have a prominent position in history, are a must-read for economics, politics, history, literature and other courses in many schools.
Broaden horizons but have limitations
For teachers and students who teach or go to school in the United States, the OSP Book List serves as a reference. “Global Times” reporters found in interviews that many teachers and students will use the book list to expand their horizons. Ma, a student studying at a university in the western United States, told reporters: “I often search for keywords like ‘2019 Books of the Year, and then go one by one to see which new books are worth reading.” Although most of them are philosophical, political, and literary books, most of them are not too obscure and purely professional books, but there are many popular books like “Clash of Civilizations” and “Hamlet”, even if they are not professional Students can also easily read and learn some daily knowledge.
However, although such a book list is authoritative, it still has many limitations. Because the list uses English-speaking countries as the main reference source, most of the books are centered on Western culture, and rare books from other cultures are excluded. Most books written in other languages are excluded unless the book has English translation. If classified by subject, for many non-American mainstream culture areas, the books on the list are mostly based on classroom teaching materials. For example, in the OSP “China Related Books” list, most of them are Chinese textbooks for training in listening, speaking, reading and writing. Only one true Chinese masterpiece among the top 10 is the ninth Analects. In addition, most books, especially in politics and philosophy, are biased towards Western theories. If you only read these books, you will inevitably be biased in understanding different disciplines.