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2018-19 Campus Read

Award-winning novel “Station Eleven” chosen as WVU’s 2018-2019 Campus Read

One of the best books of the year according to 

  • The Washington Post
  • The New York Times
  • San Francisco Chronicle
  • NPR
  • The Atlantic
  • Chicago Tribune

A flu pandemic has decimated the population of the world, unraveling civilization and erasing centuries of technological and scientific advances. Those remaining have figured out how to survive, but is that all there is: survival? What about beauty, art, history, and human connection?

These are the questions at the heart of West Virginia University’s 2018-2019 Campus Read: “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. This is no post-apocalyptic thriller. Rather, a hopeful story that focuses on a traveling theater and music troupe determined to bring beauty back to shattered communities.  This novel centers on characters connected to one another in unexpected ways.

“Station Eleven” was the winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction and the Toronto Book Award and was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award.

“This is a beautiful, engaging, well-written book. It is a page-turner,” said Susan Lantz, director of the Campus Read. “When you read it, you genuinely want to know what will happen next.  Although it is set in a dystopian future, it is about as far from “The Walking Dead” or “The Hunger Games” as you can get.  Instead of featuring the worst of humanity, it focuses on beauty and truth, and the things that make us tick once we have satisfied our basic physiological needs. There are no zombies, no drones, no Big Brother, and when you are finished; you have hope, not horror.”

This is the fourth year WVU has selected a book designed to engage the campus and community in a yearlong discussion. During this past year, more than 12,000 people attended one of the events tied to “Hidden Figures,” the 2017-18 selection.

The Campus Read committee is excited about the multidisciplinary programming opportunities tied to this book. The compelling narrative incorporates themes of contagious diseases, cults, graphic novels, the construct of culture and civilization, the arts and humanities and dystopia.

“We chose this book for several reasons, not the least of which was that students we tested it with really liked it.  In fact, every single person who has read the book really liked it,” Lantz said. “It has a thought-provoking story that will leave our students, faculty, staff, and community talking and thinking about Shakespeare, music, Star Trek, the internet, communication, extremism and memory.  It might also prompt us all to run out and get a flu shot.”

Incoming freshmen will be encouraged to read the book, which will be adopted by many first-year seminar courses. The Campus Read Committee is also planning a full slate of events to engage even more of the campus and community this coming academic year. Anyone interested in learning more about how to get involved in the WVU Campus Read should contact Lantz for opportunities and more information.