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Author of first-year summer reading book to address campus students

9/10/2012 —


2:00 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 18, Forum Theatre

Tony Hawks, author of “Round Ireland with a Fridge," the selected book for first-year students at Penn State New Kensington, brings his comedic talents and British humor to the campus at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 18, in the Forum Theatre.

Hawks’ book, which reached the top 10 on the Sunday (London) Times best seller list in 1998, chronicles his quest to hitchhike around the circumference of Ireland in 30 days while, as the title says, accompanied by a refrigerator. The idea was conceived in a pub and nurtured by a £100 wager (about $159 today and $163 in 1997). While not quite Odysseus' 10-year journey home to Troy, Hawk’s month long odyssey around the Emerald Isle is an adventure story that details his encounters with the Irish people and their eccentricities. Apparently, the local denizens did not see anything strange about hitching a ride with a kitchen appliance. Along the way, the fridge takes on its own personality and eventually moves Hawks into the background of the tale. Of course, a refrigerator that surfs tends to gain the spotlight. In 2010, the book was made into a movie that starred Hawks as himself. Following his talk, Hawks will host a screening of the film at 7 p.m. in the campus theatre. The author's talk and the movie are free to the public.

A resident of London, Hawks is a TV and radio comedian. His dry wit and ad-lib acumen earns invitations to be the frequent guest speaker at a variety of corporate events.  In addition to the fridge book, he wrote “Playing the Moldovans at Tennis,” based on another inane bet that involved tracking down all the members of the national football team of Moldova and beating them at tennis one by one.

The First-Year Summer Reading Program was instituted at the campus in 2005 to encourage reading and critical thinking and to provide a shared experience among new students. First-year students at the campus had a homework assignment over the summer -- read a book, chosen by a committee of campus faculty/staff and prepare to discuss it during orientation. Small group discussions are slated with fellow students, faculty and staff throughout the fall semester.

“Tony Hawks’ presentation is a part of our first-year experience series that helps students to be successful,” said Theresa Bonk, director of student affairs. “The series includes other topics of interest, and the book fits nicely with our study of the Irish culture.”

Book discussion sessions are a part of the campus’ “Countries of Focus” program. For the past six years, the campus has embarked on the promotion of greater awareness and understanding of world issues, international trends and global policy debates. Each year, the campus adopts a country or region of the world to inspire teaching and scholarship. Ireland and the United Kingdom are this year’s countries of focus.

Hawks is the fourth author of a selected book to speak at the campus. Tamara Draut, who wrote, "Strapped: Why America's 20- and 30-Somethings Can't Get Ahead," talked with students in 2006. Bill Strickland, author of "Make the Impossible Possible: One Man's Crusade to Inspire Others to Dream Bigger and Achieve the Extraordinary," spoke on campus in 2010. Robin Wiszowaty, author of "My Maasai Life: From Suburbia to Savannah," was at the campus last year.

For more information on Hawk’s talk, contact Lauren Blum at 724-334-6063 or ldb14@psu.edu via email.

For more about the author and the book, visit http://www.tony-hawks.com/index.php online.

For more about the First-Year Summer reading program, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/StudentLife/summerreading.htm online.

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