Common Reading Experience

Welcome to the Common Reading Experience

The goal of the Common Reading Experience is to provide an avenue for discussion among students, faculty, administration, and members of the Durango community. It is hoped that the ideas in the selected book will generate discussion and writing in a variety of disciplines and will allow students to see these ideas come alive on campus. It provides a relatively easy way to begin a more rigorous discussion of the book’s ideas, with faculty adding more and more academic and difficult texts to the curriculum.  There are several ways that everyone can engage with ideas in the book.  The author visits campus and meets students; relevant exhibits in the Center for Southwest Studies are often produced; the Theatre Department may produce a play around the related themes, as may the departments of Art and Music.

2016-2017 Apocalyptic Planet

Apocalyptic PlanetFor the 2016-17 Academic Year, the Common Reading Experience book selection is Apocalyptic Planet: Field Guide to the Future of the Earth, by Craig Childs.  Craig Childs writes about the relationship between humans, animals, landscape, and time. His stories come from visceral, personal experience, whether in the company of illicit artifact dealers or in deep wilderness. Childs has published more than a dozen critically acclaimed books, including his most recent book, Apocalyptic Planet, which won the Orion Book Award and the Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Award. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Men's Journal, and Outside. An occasional commentator for National Public Radio's Morning Edition, Childs lives in Western Colorado and teaches writing for both University of Alaska in Anchorage and Southern New Hampshire University. (from the author’s webpage)

Booklist has this to say about Apocalyptic Planet:

"Ruminating on our distant past and present changes, [Childs] blends climate science, natural history, literary references, and personal reflections to create an immensely evocative sense of time and place. From Greenland’s glaciers to a blistering hot Iowa cornfield (a place Childs characterizes as suffering from “genetic exhaustion”), he immerses himself in parts of our world that scientists endlessly study but we willfully ignore. He consults great minds, cajoles friends into sharing his adventures (with often hilarious results), and brings his mother along in an attempt to gather clues and form conclusions about the end of the world as we know it. Surprisingly, this is not a work of darkest sorrow but rather an engaging exploration of the land beneath us and the sixth mass extinction that scientists agree is underway."

Or read the back cover…:

“Ours is not a stable planet.  It is prone to sudden, violent natural disasters and extremes of climate.  In this exhilarating exploration of our globe, Craig Childs goes to where the apocalypse can be seen now.

From the driest deserts of Chile, through the genetic wasteland of central Iowa, to the site of the drowned land bridge of the Bering Sea, Childs uncovers cataclysms that tell us what could be next: forthcoming ice ages, super volcanoes, and the conclusion of planetary life cycles.  He delivers a sensual feast in descriptions of the natural world, and offers undeniable science that reveals both the earth’s strengths and frailties.  Bearing witness to the planet’s sweeping and perilous changes, he shows how we can alter the future, and how the world will live on, though humans may not survive to see it.”

In Fall 2016 we will host lectures, films, discussions, and more related to this extraordinary book, both on campus and in the community.

And the 2016-17 Common Reading Experience will culminate with Craig Childs’ visit to the FLC campus on February 8 & 9  2017!

Panel and Discussion
Tuesday, October 25th from 7-9 PM in Noble 130
Riding the Apocalypse: Visions of Our Future

Please join us for an evening of lively and insightful discussion on the significance of Craig Childs’ Apocalyptic Planet. Panelists will explore Childs’ book from the perspectives of the environment and biodiversity, international security, socio-economic impacts, the global food market, and a clean energy future. This is sure to be an exciting evening of investigation into climate change in our time.

Read the Book, & Join the Conversation!