Book connection author visits, speaks

Approximately 2,600 students and community members listened to this year’s Book Connection author as he delved into the topic of mountain-top removal for coal mining in Eastern Kentucky.

Erik Reese, author of “Lost Mountain,” spoke in Greaves Hall Oct. 17 and 18 on his book and answered questions from audience members.

Each year, the Book Connection program selects a book for the incoming freshmen students to read and use in classroom discussions.

“The Book Connection program is a great way for students to not only get exposed to what reading is going to be like in college, but gives them a common thread with other students, a sense of community,” said Jennie LaMothe, coordinator of the Book Connection program.

“If they come in and they don’t know anybody else here, if there’s nothing else to talk about, they’ve got that book,” she said. “And it’s also a common thread through a lot of their academics, they’re using it in a lot of their different classes and that leads to critical thinking and a deeper level of learning.”

Kevin Concoran, dean of the college of arts and sciences, opened the event. “Education is not so much about filling a bucket as it is lighting a fire,” he said.

Corcoran said he hoped that taking part in the Book Connection would help attending freshmen use this experience to begin thinking critically in their college career.

A Q-and-A session was also part of the event.

Students asked Reese about his memories writing the book, his experiences and his research methods. The students often responded with applause and cheers to Reese’s answers. He signed books for students after the discussion.

In addition to Reese signing books, groups against mountain top removal were providing information about this issue, as well as information on how to get involved.

This year’s Book Connection program has been different than those in the past, according to LaMothe. Instead of just reading a book and having an author come in, a calendar of events, which is being called “Go Green, We’re all Down Stream,” has been planned surrounding the book.

Other firsts for the Book Connection program, include an alternative spring break trip to Robinson Forest in Eastern Kentucky to experience mountain top removal first hand and a screening of the documentary, “Black Diamond,” which is also about mountain top removal.

LaMothe feels that the Book Connection’s new programming is receiving a positive response from students. She said they had invited the Kentucky Coal Association to the university earlier this semester so students could receive the other side of mountain top removal; why it needs to be done, and why it’s done this way. LaMothe said that 150 students attended the event.

“You worry about over-programming, you worry about giving too many options, but to have that many students show up is amazing,” she said.

LaMothe said that this new full calendar of events is anticipated to become a tradition for the Book Connection program in the years to come.