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Wayne Henderson will speak at Appalachian State University’s convocation at 10 a.m. Sept. 4 in the Holmes Convocation Center.


Originally published: 2014-04-24 20:08:21
Last modified: 2014-04-24 20:22:37


by Allison Haver

Appalachian State University has selected the book for the 2014 Summer Reading Program, and this year, it's one with a local connection.

Incoming students will read "Clapton's Guitar: Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument" for the program. As a musician, Henderson routinely performs in the High Country. He is performing at MerleFest today.

First published in 2005, the book by New York Times best-selling author Allen St. John spotlights master luthier and musician Henderson as he builds two guitars for Eric Clapton.

Henderson was born May 3, 1947, in Rugby, Va., in the White Top Mountain area of Grayson County near the North Carolina border.

In a 1995 White House ceremony, he was awarded a National Heritage Fellowship through the National Endowment for the Arts in recognition of his instrument making.

According NEA's website, Henderson is also an accomplished guitarist who has won more than 300 ribbons at fiddlers' conventions. He was featured as part of the "Masters of the Steel String Guitar" tour and has traveled internationally with the United States Information Agency. He has performed at Carnegie Hall and the Smithsonian Institution and for "America's Reunion" during the 1992 presidential inauguration.

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

"The book 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," associate professor Colin Ramsey, who directs Appalachian's Summer Reading Program, said.

"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.

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."

Appalachian's Summer Reading Program, which began in 1997, asks incoming freshmen to read a book as part of their orientation to the university.

The program is a unit within Appalachian's University College and by participating, incoming 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.

During the fall semester, the book will be required reading in many classes, and students will be able to participate in a number of events and activities related to the novel.

For more information about Appalachian State University's Summer Reading Program, visit

Previous Summer Reading selections

• 2013: "American Dervish" by Ayad Akhtar
• 2012: "Farm City: The Education of an Urban Farmer" by Novella Carpenter
• 2011: "Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World
  Has Never Seen" by Christopher McDougall
• 2010: "Mudbound" by Hillary Jordan
• 2009: "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin
• 2008: "The Glass Castle" by Jeannette Walls
• 2007: "A Home on the Field" by Paul Cuadros      
• 2006: "Freakonomics" by Steven J Dubner and Stephen D. Levitt
• 2005: "Iron and Silk" by Mark Salzman
• 2004: "A Hope in the Unseen: An American Odyssey from the Inner City
  to the Ivy Leage" by Ron Suskind
• 2003: "Nickel and Dimed" by Barbara Ehrenreich
• 2002: "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brian

About the author: Allen St. John

Allen St. John is a New York Times best-selling author and an award-winning journalist. He writes the By the Numbers column for the Wall Street Journal, and has written for a wide variety of publications from the New York Times Magazine, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Maxim, Salon, Popular Mechanics, Playboy, Men's Journal and Maxim. St. John has won a variety of awards, including top honors from the North Jersey Press Club, the North American Ski Journalists Association and the United States Tennis Writers Association.
His story "Fall Classics" earned an honorable mention in The Best American Sports Writing 2002. His other books include the award-winning "Skiing for Dummies" and the hardcover and CD-ROM of "The Way Baseball Works."

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