Auburn University selects ‘The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind’ as 2014-15 Common Book

AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Auburn University has selected “The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope” for its 2014-15 Auburn Connects! Common Book Program.

In the New York Times bestseller by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer, Kamkwamba chronicles his experiences growing up in a small village in Malawi, Africa. He shares African folklore, insights into local and national government, details about cultural customs and the harsh realities of famine. Kamkwamba will be on the Auburn campus Sept. 9 to speak about those experiences.

To fill his time after dropping out of school due to poverty, Kamkwamba began reading old American textbooks in which he learned about windmills. As a young, uneducated boy with minimal English skills, he decided to build a windmill to bring electricity and running water to his farm and his village. With a small pile of scrap metal, tractor parts and bicycle halves, and to the surprise of all the neighbors who called him “misala,” or crazy, he erected a functioning windmill in his backyard.

“The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind” also details what followed, including appearances at two TED conferences, scholarships to multiple secondary schools and a trip to California to experience wind farms firsthand.

During fall semester 2014 the various themes presented in this year’s common book selection, as well as the culture of southern Africa, will be explored in lectures, film screenings, service projects, exhibitions, public discussions and other programs. The Auburn community is encouraged to participate in programming made available throughout the semester.

The Auburn Connects! Common Book Program is an initiative of the Office of Undergraduate Studies. By creating a shared reading experience for students, faculty, staff and the wider Auburn community, Auburn Connects! seeks to provide insight into the human condition while developing lifelong habits of intellectual curiosity and engagement.

For more information about Auburn Connects! Common Book Program and the new selection, go to

Contact: Valerie Bagley, First Year Experience, (334) 844-5822 (,
Mike Clardy, Office of Communications and Marketing, (334) 844-9999 (