Take a hike.
That’s the message of Pellissippi State Community College’s 2013-2014 Common Book, “A Walk in the Woods,” by Bill Bryson. It’s also the theme of this year’s Common Book Convocation, which takes place Sept. 23.
The Convocation presentation, “More Than Just a Walk in the Woods,” features speakers from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy: Leanna Joyner, Tip Ray, Ben Royer and Morgan Sommerville. The ATS is a nonprofit organization committed to preserving and maintaining the Appalachian Trail.
The event is 11:50 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Monday, Sept. 23, at the Clayton Performing Arts Center on Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Campus. Convocation will be Web-streamed to site campuses, and the event is free and open to the community.
The Common Book Convocation is the jumping off point for a year of discussion and events tied to “A Walk in the Woods.” Pellissippi State’s Common Book is required reading for select courses. This year’s topics will be as wide-ranging as ecology, biological diversity, the effects of tourism, the importance of outdoor activity and the tradition of nature writing.
Bryson recounts his tale of hiking the Appalachian Trail. After years of living abroad, he hoped through the experience to reacquaint himself with America’s scenery, history and people. “A Walk in the Woods,” which is written in a satirical tone, encompasses the many emotions, logistical problems and incidents to be expected for a hiker on the journey.
The account also reflects on the history of the Appalachian Trail, National Park Service management, the history of the national parks and forests, the depredations of disease and insects on trees and plants, the need for environmental awareness and stewardship, and the ever-present threat of bears.
“Like Mr. Bryson, all of our students are on a journey of self-discovery,” said Carol Luther, an English professor and chair of the Common Book Committee. “As they go to college and become more educated persons, that experience will shape them and change them.
“We want each Common Book to be useful and inspiring to our students, no matter their area of study. ‘A Walk in the Woods’ is about friendship, nature and overcoming challenges along the trail. We hope that students, many of whom are technologically adept and comfortable online, will be inspired to get outdoors and recognize the value of our greenways, parks, and wilderness areas.”
“A Walk in the Woods,” first published in 1998, was a New York Times bestseller. Bryson was bestowed an honorary doctorate from King’s College London in 2012, at which time it was noted he was the United Kingdom’s highest-selling author of nonfiction. His other books include “Mother Tongue,” “Notes from a Small Island” and “A Short History of Nearly Everything.”
For more information about Common Book programs, contact Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6400. To request accommodations for a disability, contact the executive director of Human Resources at (865) 694-6607 or firstname.lastname@example.org.