University's common book program bringing 'Ready Player One' author and more to campus
Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013
MANHATTAN -- When it comes to this year's common book at Kansas State University, "Ready Player One" by Ernest Cline, first-year students are doing more than reading it -- they're playing along and they're getting ready to hear from the author in person.
All first-year students who participated in June orientation and enrollment on the Manhattan campus were given "Ready Player One" to read over the summer. Current students, faculty and staff also are encouraged to read it and get involved with book-related activities.
"We offer a lot of ways of getting involved with the book," said Tara Coleman, associate professor at K-State Libraries and chair of the K-State Book Network, or KSBN. "KSBN is sponsoring three great events: an augmented reality game, an author talk by Ernest Cline and a lecture by New York Times journalist Justin Gillis. This book has also inspired campus and the community to plan events: a movie series at the Manhattan Public Library, an '80s scavenger hunt on the Salina campus, and an interactive dance choreographed by the 2012 KSBN Faculty/Staff Award winner."
More information on all of the events can be found at http://www.k-state.edu/ksbn/events.html.
"We are the second university in the country to select 'Ready Player One' and we've heard a lot of positive feedback from K-State students. My favorites are from students who say 'I hate to read and loved this book' or 'Instead of staying up all night playing video games, I stayed up all night reading,'" Coleman said.
"In addition to other events, we're particularly looking forward to a visit from the author of 'Ready Player One,' Ernest Cline, on Oct. 10," said Karin Westman, professor and head of the English department and chair of the K-State Book Network's public relations and events committee. "Arriving from Texas in his vintage DeLorean, Cline will speak about his book and responses to it, including the comments being posted right now by K-State students on Twitter. It's sure to be an entertaining and engaging evening."
Cline will speak at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 in McCain Auditorium. The event is free, but tickets are required and can be picked up, beginning Sept. 30, at the McCain Auditorium box office and the Manhattan Public Library. Students enrolled in a K-State First class should talk to their professor before picking up a ticket.
A slam poet, screenwriter and novelist, Cline draws upon his love for popular culture in all of his creative work, according to Westman.
"'Ready Player One' asks us to think about key concerns in contemporary life: social networking, identity theft, environmental sustainability, online education and our relationship to the past," she said. "Cline's novel reflects his love of 1980s' popular culture, especially video games and films, but it also explores a dystopian future dependent on virtual reality and threatened by environmental decline."
A new activity introduced by the K-State Book Network this year is an augmented reality game based on "Ready Player One" that students have been playing since the first day of classes. To check up on the current high scorers, go to http://rpo.lib.k-state.edu/.
The public lecture by Gillis, the New York Times reporter, will be on sustainability, one of the themes of "Ready Player One." It will be at 7 p.m. Oct. 29 in Forum Hall at the K-State Student Union and is free and open to the public.
"Our motto for KSBN is 'a campus on the same page.' It captures our goal of bringing together first-year students and the whole campus community through the activity of reading, thinking about and discussing a common book," said Gregory Eiselein, professor of English and director of K-State First, the university's first-year experience program, of which the K-State Book Network is a part. These programs -- which also include First-Year Seminars, CAT Communities and Guide to Personal Success mentoring -- are the university's way of helping students establish a great foundation for the rest of their college career.
The common reading program is proving especially effective at bringing the campus together, according to university administrators.
"KSBN common reading books have the power to raise students' awareness about contemporary issues," said April Mason, provost and senior vice president. She points to the success of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks," last year's common read, and the recent announcement by the National Institutes of Health that gives the Lacks family a voice in the future of Henrietta's cell line.
"KSBN brings together our students, academic colleges and departments, student life areas and the surrounding community. The strength of our programs lies in the partnership between all of these different entities," said Emily Lehning, assistant vice president for student life and adviser for K-State First.