Roanoke College

Roanoke College’s summer reading is award-winning true story

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  • Roanoke College’s summer reading is award-winning true story

  • 06/23/09
  • SALEM, Va. -Once again this year, the Roanoke College education will begin for new students before they even step foot on campus. The College will send all incoming freshmen and transfer students the award-winning book, The Last American Man, by author Elizabeth Gilbert. This true story is part of a summer reading assignment for incoming students.

    The book tells the story of Eustace Conway, who in 1977, at the age of 17, left his home to begin living a life of survival in the Appalachian Mountains. Students will read the book prior to their arrival to the College in August and will complete an assignment on the book over the summer. The Last American Man will be used as a focal point in activities and discussion as new students arrive on campus and Eustace Conway, the man behind this true story, will speak to students during orientation.

    This is the fifth year the College has selected a summer reading. This year's book was selected by a panel of 13 students, faculty and staff from about 30 books. The panel narrowed the list to three finalists, which were then voted on by orientation mentors. The Last American Man was selected because it is a true story with a lot of adventures. The panel also liked the fact that though many of the feats Conway accomplishes throughout the story are amazing, the book displays Conway's flaws and is not an uncritical look at him.

    The panel focuses on a few different criteria when choosing the summer reading for incoming students. The book selected must be relevant to 18-year-olds and most importantly, engaging. According to panel member Dr. Bill Tenbrunsel, associate dean, "The book must take under 30 pages to hook somebody."
    Roanoke is one of many colleges to assign summer reading to incoming students. Dr. Bill Tenbrunsel says, "Roanoke College chooses to have a summer reading program because it introduces students to critical thinking and interaction with faculty members."

    Summer reading selections from the past include Mountains Beyond Mountains by Tracy Kidder; Persepolis by Marjane Satrap; The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon; and The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls.

    Roanoke College, an independent, co-educational, four-year liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a classic, undergraduate setting. Roanoke prepares students for their futures through its commitment to providing a true classic college experience. Roanoke is one of just 276 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the Southeast."

    For additional information, call the Roanoke College Public Relations Office at (540) 375-2282.

  • Public Relations
  • (540) 375-2282
  • gereaux@roanoke.edu