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Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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You Are Not Special: … And Other Encouragements Hardcover – April 22, 2014

3.8 out of 5 stars 106 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Drawing on his teaching and parenting experience, You Are Not Special calls on teenagers to use their privilege and considerable talents to solve the increasingly complex and dire problems plaguing our world... It’s a lovely notion… and the book is fantastic.” (Chicago Tribune)

“…a success. May its salvos ring from Cambridge and Arlington to the hinterlands of Wellesley, Weston, and Way-wayland. You Are Not Special is also big-hearted - and clearly forged in a hearth of caring, doubt, and fear. Aphorisms could be lifted from every page and blossom into memes.” (Boston Globe)

“... McCullough scores an A+ with this volume for teens and parents. Rich in literary references and poetic in cadence, the author ... offers plenty of hilarious and pointed comments on teens and today’s society. ” (Publishers Weekly (Starred Review))

“Despite the somewhat disparaging tone of the title, McCullough’s graduation book is anything but a downer. The high school English teacher ...expands on his viral commencement address with words of encouragement: Do what you love, don’t be afraid to make mistakes and remember-we’re all in the same boat.” (Bookpage)

“…to open You Are Not Special…and Other Encouragements is to enter a deeply intellectual and thought-out analysis of the forces that shape modern teenage life, both at home and in the classroom. . . Even if you didn’t agree with McCullough’s speech, this is essential reading.” (The Swellesley Report)

“The author tackles big issues ... with searching sincerity, open-heartedness, and a deft, light touch.” (Kirkus (Starred Review))

“Every once in a long while, a voice seems to come out of nowhere, and you wonder how you ever managed without [it]. David McCullough, Jr. has that startling, insightful, wry, reassuring, helpful voice and You Are Not Special may be the wisest ‘parenting’ book I’ve read in decades.” (Madeline Levine, author of author of The Price of Privilege and Teach Your Children Well)

“A clear-eyed but affectionate polemic urging kids to stop trying to be perfect and to take chances, even at the risk of failing. A profound celebration of the life well lived.” (Clayton Christensen, author of How Will You Measure Your Life?)

About the Author

David McCullough, Jr. taught for sixteen years at Punahou School in Honolulu and has been teaching at Wellesley High School near Boston since 2002. He lives with his wife and four children in Sudbury, Massachusetts.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Printng edition (April 22, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006225734X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062257345
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.1 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (106 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #99,540 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Blaine VINE VOICE on March 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As a former high school English teacher, I am a kindred spirit with David McCullough, Jr. "You Are Not Special," an expansion of a commencement address he gave to his school's graduating seniors in 2012, contains an incredible amount of wisdom, but it is subversive in that it runs counter to most prevailing thought about what children need and how best to provide for them. Addressed mainly to middle and upper-middle class "strivers," this book points out the hazards of excessive parental involvement and its consequences--an infantilizing of young people, delaying their maturation far into young adulthood and in some cases crippling them for life.

My favorite parts of the book dealt with the gaming of the system that goes on in the college admissions process. From massaging your GPA, to trying to outsmart the SAT, to hiring admissions "advisors," every point he made rang true. How often will a student take a class from an "easy" teacher rather than challenging him- or herself with the chance to actually learn something from a more demanding teacher? Unfortunately, the answer is, nearly every time. How often will a parent complain if a child gets less than an A in a college prep class? Unfortunately, too often. Students take five AP classes (I remember a time when our high school limited students to two) and wonder why they are not getting A+ in each of them. They join clubs or teams to improve their resume for college admissions officers, not because of any real interest. It is obvious that parents and students alike are pursuing short range gains at the expense of their child's long term best interests, but once you are in the fray of college admissions, it is as if you have lost your sanity.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I thoroughly enjoyed this book by David McCullough, and found so much to identify with there. Though clearly he is often speaking about (and perhaps to) a privileged subset of today's youth, his insights are both keen and refreshing, with an appealing mixture of candor and humor. I very much enjoyed his imaginative use of language, and his thoughts about so many subjects: teaching, grades, college, kids today vs. kids in earlier years, parents, racial issues, etc. etc. etc....also about the value of reading (beautifully stated,) fascinating people like Thoreau, Emerson, and Melville (often so moving) and McCullough's own approach to teaching as it has evolved through the years.

He speaks openly and eloquently about the intense pressure on students for grades, and the extent to which kids are pushed to think more about getting into college tomorrow than about enjoying learning today. His empathy for students as well as parents shines through much of the time.

I found his descriptions of his own teaching so appealing.

"Studying Herman Melville - or, rather, dipping a toe into the great tossing sea of Herman Melville...matters not in the grades a high school student might achieve...nor the college or career toward which it will move him closer. It matters in his excitement at discovering what's there...for the holy-mackerel-would-you-please-take-a-look-at-this moments available to anyone willing to observe and to think about what he sees. When enthusiasm builds into wildfire, it's all pure joy; intellectual growth, information, skills honing and shiny grades will surely follow...What begins in delight, said Robert Frost, ends in wisdom."

I find this kind of thinking irresistible, and was therefore glued to this book from beginning to end.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As noted in every review, this is the book deal that McCullough scored after his commencement speech went viral. It's tough and curmudgeonly in tone, but what was unexpected is that the book really speaks English teacher to English teacher. Many of his observations are based in classic works of literature, and I love that this book not only serves as a nice series of life lessons, but also grounds them in great literature that is not as well known as it ought to be ("The Open Boat" never gets enough respect).

So this book reads like a series of really good and honest lectures from the English teacher that the kids like because he is not only smart, but authentic and grounded.

McCullough's writing style is vigorous and free-wheeling. It just pops with energy and vitality; not at all dry and professorial. This is an entertaining and thoughtful read; I'll be recommending it to my fellow English teachers but it's a great book for anybody.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
trophies are meaningless. It seems like it shouldn't take a rocket scientist or an English teacher to figure this one out. If I get a trophy for just showing up and breathing while you have been busting your buns over the work and you get the same sort of trophy, what does it teach me? What does it teach you?
David McCullough Jr's graduation speech has been more thoroughly explored in this book. I would think many educators will embrace this book and the concept behind it. It has to be amazingly difficult to deal with parents and kids who expect nothing but straight A's and blame the teacher when it doesn't happen. All parents should be required to read this book to get a better understanding of how the 'you're special" praise does not lead to a good outcome.
I recommend this book highly, for educators and parents alike.
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