Vultures have long been seen a negative light in society — even calling someone a “vulture” is definitely not considered a compliment!
Penn State alum Katie Fallon has become an advocate for the unusual bird, and her book, “Vulture: The Private Life of an Unloved Bird,” may have you thinking twice about the scavenger. Vulture is the Centre County Reads selection for 2019, and once again, Centre County Reads has put together a full calendar of events to complement the book. It all culminates with Fallon’s visit on April 4 at the Nittany Lion Inn.
“Fallon’s writing is lively and engaging, not to mention informative,” said Maria Burchill, head of adult services at Schlow Centre Region Library. “Reading about nature brings us closer to it and helps us to relive those feelings we experience when we’re out in the world, birdwatching, hiking or just walking. It’s important for our mental health to take that time. It helps us unwind.”
Centre County Reads started in 2003 with “To Kill a Mockingbird.” The project encourages county residents of all ages to explore the human condition and community issues by reading and discussing the same book. Past selections include “A Walk in the Woods,” “The Book Thief,” and last year’s selection, “Your Heart Is a Muscle the Size of a Fist” by State College native Sunil Yapa.
“Vulture,” according to Fallon’s website, “chronicles the life and times of one of the world’s most underappreciated and overlooked birds: the turkey vulture. Part ecological memoir, part travel narrative, part scientific exploration, and part love story, this book examines the roles turkey vultures — and all vultures — play in healthy ecosystems. Fallon travels to India, Arizona, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and her own backyard in her quest to study, care for, and observe this often unloved though vitally important (and uniquely beautiful!) bird.”
Fallon began her undergraduate studies at Penn State in wildlife and fisheries science but soon switched to English. She received her MFA in creative nonfiction from West Virginia University. She lives in Cheat Lake, West Virginia, with her family.
Centre County Reads 2019 events begin Tuesday, Jan. 29, when the documentary “Winged Migration” will be shown at Schlow Centre Region Library. The film also will be shown Friday, Feb. 1 at Centre County Library in Bellefonte.
Other special events include a bird walk Feb. 23 at Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, and “Meet the Creek” on March 31 at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center. It will be an opportunity to meet residents of Shaver’s Creek, including turkey and black vultures as well as other avian scavengers such as bald and golden eagles.
A roundtable discussion on “The Changing Nature of Nature Writing” will be held Tuesday, March 12 in the Mann Assembly Room of Paterno Library. Book discussion groups and storytimes also will be held in February and March at the public libraries of Centre County.
Centre County Reads and the Center for American Literary Studies will be holding a “Writing the Nonhuman” writing contest. Entries are due by March 11 and categories include Best Short Fiction, Best Nonfiction, Best Poetry and Best Entry for a Writer under 18.
Centre County Reads coordinators are the Center for American Literary Studies, the Center for Global Studies, Centre County Library & Historical Museum, Pennsylvania Center for the Book, Schlow Centre Region Library, the State College, Philipsburg-Osceola, Penns Valley, and Bellefonte area school districts and Schlow Library Foundation. Partners for Centre County Reads 2019 are the Mary E. Rolling Reading Series within the Penn State Creative Writing Program, Millbrook Marsh Nature Center, and Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center.
“The committee is excited to partner more fully with the Mary E. Rolling Reading Series through Penn State’s Creative Writing Program,” Burchill said. “Thanks to them, we are able to offer author visits to the community.”
For more information on Fallon’s visit, other events, and Centre County Reads, visit centrecountyreads.org.