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Appalachian’s 2014 common reading selection is “Clapton’s Guitar”

BOONE—The book “Clapton’s Guitar: Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument” has been selected for the 2014 Common Reading Program at Appalachian State University.

First published in 2005, the book by New York Times bestselling author Allen St. John centers on master luthier and musician Wayne Henderson as he builds a guitar for Eric Clapton.

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Henderson will speak at convocation Thursday, Sept. 4, at 10 a.m. in the Holmes Convocation Center.

“The book also showcases the richness of our distinctive region in music, crafts, folklore, storytelling, and other aspects of Appalachian culture, and it thus has broad applicability across many academic disciplines. It also connects well with many of our cultural resources here on campus,” said Associate Professor Colin Ramsey, who directs Appalachian’s Common Reading Program. “We found the individuals portrayed in the book appealingly eccentric and distinctive, and we loved how the book brings their community to life for readers. We also valued how the book comprehensively depicts the unique psychology and work ethic of a master hand-craftsman,” Ramsey said.

Allen Barra of American Heritage says “Clapton’s Guitar” is, “only a guitar book in the sense that ‘The Orchid Thief’ is only a book about gardening.” David Kelly of the New York Times Book Review wrote that the book is, “a memorable portrait of a likable, self-effacing craftsman at work. St. John writes that ‘some people simply have the gift of being able to make a piece of wood sing.’”

Kirkus Reviews noted that, “St. John’s writing shares a deceptive lightness with Henderson’s guitars. There is a wash of fascinating material in these pages: playing techniques; guitar history. . . . and the pleasure of sitting in a cluttered workspace with a handful of friends, swapping jokes and stories.”

Begun in 1997, Appalachian’s Common Reading Program asks incoming freshmen to read a book as part of their orientation to the university. By participating in the Common Reading Program, entering students establish a common intellectual activity that helps them develop a sense of community and introduces them to a part of the academic life they are beginning at Appalachian.

Prior to the beginning of the academic year, students will participate in a discussion of the book led by Appalachian faculty and staff.

Past selections include “Farm City,” “Mudbound,” “The Glass Castle,” “Freakonomics” and “American Dervish.”