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Author Florence Williams to Deliver Common Read Keynote Address Oct. 17

September 26, 2023

MOSCOW, Idaho —Florence Williams, the author of this year’s University of Idaho Common Read selection, “The Nature Fix: Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative,” will give a keynote address at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 17, in the International Ballroom of the Bruce M. Pitman Center. The event is free and open to the public.

“A noted outdoor writer and enthusiast, Florence Williams stresses the importance of nature as our lives have shifted indoors, in a post-pandemic world — and in general,” U of I Director of General Education Dean Panttaja said. “The distractions of our electronics, home lives, and employment work against our need to refuel in nature’s beauty and healthful energies. We can all learn lessons from this and in the Northwest, we have many opportunities.”

Williams is a journalist, author and podcaster as well as a contributing editor at Outside magazine and a freelance writer for several national publications. She is also the author of “BREASTS: A Natural and Unnatural History”; her latest book is “Heartbreak: A Personal and Scientific Journey.”

The synopsis of “The Nature Fix” reads, “From forest trails in Korea to groves of eucalyptus in California, Williams investigates the science behind the environment, mood, health and creativity. Delving into new research, she uncovers the natural world’s powers to improve health, strengthen relationships and promote reflection and innovation. As modern lives shift indoors, these ideas — and the answers they yield — are more urgent than ever.”

Now in its 16th year, the Common Read is designed to engage the university and Moscow community in a unified intellectual activity, Panttaja said. First-year students were assigned to read the book as part of the General Education program.

Other recent Common Reads have included Tara Westover’s “Educated: A Memoir” in 2018; Tommy Orange’s “There, There” in 2019; Cristina Henriquez’s “The Book of Unknown Americans” in 2020; Angela Duckworth’s ”Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance” in 2021; and Ijeouma Oluo’s “So You Want to Talk About Race” in 2022.

There's still time to nominate a book for next year’s Common Read. The selection committee gives preference to books that address contemporary issues, can be used in a wide range of courses and are accessible to students of various reading levels.

Suggestions should be sent to by Sept. 30 and include the following information: Title, author, area of focus (e.g. racism, immigration, resilience, etc.) and a brief statement on how it meets the selection committee’s criteria.

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Dean Panttaja
Director, General Education and Assessment

Danae Lenz
External communications coordinator

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The University of Idaho, home of the Vandals, is Idaho’s land-grant, national research university. From its residential campus in Moscow, U of I serves the state of Idaho through educational centers in Boise, Coeur d’Alene and Idaho Falls, nine research and Extension centers, plus Extension offices in 42 counties. Home to nearly 11,000 students statewide, U of I is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities, and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach. U of I competes in the Big Sky and Western Athletic conferences. Learn more at


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