Griz Read 2018

The purpose of the Griz Read is to provide new students with a common connection through a thought-provoking book. Each year, a committee of faculty, staff, and students select a book from nominations submitted by the campus community.

All members of the campus community, especially first-year students, are encouraged to read the book and participate in Griz Read events. First-year students are invited to participate in the Griz Read events and essay contest.

We believe that books forge powerful bonds and we are excited to begin the campus discussion this year!

Griz Read 2018

  • #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • A Best Nonfiction Book of 2012: The Boston GlobeEntertainment Weekly
  • A Best Book of the Year: NPR, St. Louis DispatchVogue
  • Winner of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award
  • Now a major motion picture starring Reese Witherspoon and Laura Dern

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother's death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

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Griz Read Events

Books with Bodnar

  • October 12, 4-5pm, DHC Lounge

  • Drink coffee and discuss themes from Wild with President Bodnar 

"Wild" Film Showing

  • October 12, 7pm, DHC Lounge


Student Q&A with Cheryl Strayed

  • October 15, 3-4 pm, Dell Brown Reading Room (Turner Hall)
  • Students are invited to bring their questions to a discussion with "Wild" author Cheryl Strayed.

Cheryl Strayed Lecture

  • October 15, 7:30 pm, Dennison Theatre
  • Free and open to the public

Griz Read Writing Contest

As part of the Griz Read, we invite first-year students to participate in the Writing Contest.

Griz Read Writing Contest

Submit an essay in response to one of the prompts provided. The deadline for submitting essays is October 8. (Full Writing Contest Call and Instructions) These prompts invite you to engage with the ideas presented in Wild and to reflect on how those ideas can be put to use:

  1. Strayed writes that, “Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told” (51). Have you ever changed the narrative surrounding something you were experiencing in order to change the meaning of that experience, both in the moment and upon reflection later? How was it successful? What, if anything, did it teach you about the way that narrative influences meaning? Good essays will be based on striking insights that depend on your unique personal experiences and the ideas in Wild, but that are also useful or instructive for readers who do not share your personal history.
  2. Research the conversation around critiques of WILD arguing that Strayed was wildly unprepared to hike the PCT and the response that critics never freaked out about the same unpreparedness in male authors like Bill Bryson (A WALK IN THE WOODS). And, if you agree that critics judged Strayed more harshly, how do you see those same gendered judgments or prejudices at work along her hike? Good essays will be based on textual evidence and use of outside sources.
  3. “To overcome an adversity you have manufactured for yourself is a bit silly.” -Meg Howrey. Use personal experience and textual evidence to argue for or against the “silliness” of Strayed’s overcoming adversity of her own design on the PCT.


Patagonia has generously donated a Black Hole bag and a backpack to be awarded to two writers of the most compelling essays, and the essays themselves (with the authors’ permission) will be posted to the Griz Read webpage. Winners will also join a dinner with Cheryl Strayed on October 15.

The Author

Cheryl Strayed is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Wild, the New York Times bestsellers Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough, and the novel Torch. Wild was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah's Book Club 2.0. Strayed's books have been translated into nearly forty languages around the world and have been adapted for both the screen and the stage.

The Oscar-nominated movie adaptation of Wild stars Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl and Laura Dern as Cheryl's mother, Bobbi. The film was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, with a screenplay by Nick Hornby. Tiny Beautiful Things was adapted for the stage by Nia Vardalos, who also starred in the role of Sugar/Cheryl. The play was directed by Thomas Kail and debuted at The Public Theater in New York City in a sold-out run in 2016. Strayed's essays have been published in The Best American Essays, the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, The Sun, Tin House, The New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. Strayed is the co-host of the New York Times/WBUR podcast Dear Sugars, which originated with her popular Dear Sugar advice column on The Rumpus, and she's the co-author of The Sweet Spot advice column in the New York Times Thursday Styles section. Strayed holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her family.

Wild is "uplifting, but not in the way of many memoirs, where the uplift makes you feel that you’re committing mental suicide. This book is as loose and sexy and dark as an early Lucinda Williams song. It’s got a punk spirit and makes an earthy and American sound."

Dwight Garner, New York Times

"Big-hearted, keen-eyed, lyrical, precise...Cheryl Strayed reminds us in every line that if defeat and despair are part of human experience, so are kindness, patience, and transcendence."

George Saunders

"Cheryl Strayed is a courageous, gritty, and deceptively elegant writer."

Pam Houston

"Cheryl Strayed needed to be alone in the vast American outdoors, but she also needed to tell us about it. The film adaptation of her book — itself already a classic of wilderness writing and modern feminism — provides another reason to be grateful that she did."

A.O. Scott, New York Times

"Strayed gives the impression of tapping raw emotion while at the same time exerting tremendous authorial control. Her carefully honed sentences are as sharp as knives."

Bernard Cooper

"In language that's lyrical and haunting, Cheryl Strayed writes about bliss and loss, about the kind of grace that startles and transforms us in ordinary moments."

Ursula Hegi

"No one can write like Cheryl Strayed."

Ann Hood

[Wild is] "spectacular... at once a breathtaking adventure tale and a profound meditation on the nature of grief and survival, ... both a literary and human triumph."

Dani Shapiro, New York Times Book Review

"Strayed writes fierce truths about how we live, with compassion, humor and uncanny precision. We need her."

Sandra Scofield

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