Students, faculty and other Manhattan residents packed McCain Auditorium, filling the balconies to hear Steven Johnson, author of “The Ghost Map: How One Doctor Changed the World by Listening to His Patients,” speak Thursday night.
“The Ghost Map” was the 2014-2015 K-State Book Network common read. The event is hosted by KSBN with the help of the Union Program Council, K-State Libraries, The English Department and K-State First.
Johnson presented the ideas behind the novel and ones that the novel encourages readers dig deeper into. The atmosphere started off tense with a topic like cholera on everyone’s mind but quickly lightened up as Johnson broke the ice with jokes and personal stories.
On the surface, “The Ghost Map” is about disease, death and discovery. The story is more than a historical and scientific account of the cholera outbreak of 1854, it is a tool that Johnson uses to teaches readers about the impact they have on society.
Johnson encouraged students to hold on to their hobbies, to take classes outside of their majors and to diversify the people they surround themselves with. Johnson said students should surround themselves with different backgrounds and assemble a diverse mix of influences in order to grow as a person.
Students were also encouraged to slow down and keep their ideas alive. Johnson warned students not to wait for light bulb moments and said ideas develop over time.
Johnson tied the talk back into “The Ghost Map” by giving the example of the launch of the highly anticipated iPhone 6 and how people lacked appreciation for the smaller, but more vital things in life such as clean water. Johnson reminded students that just 150 years ago clean water was hard to come by, with the cholera epidemic as proof.
At the end of the lecture, the audience was able to ask Johnson questions by hash-tagging KSBN. Johnson answered the live Twitter feed questions ranging from the cholera outbreak in London to how to be innovative with personal stories and his own experiences.
After an hour filled with jokes, laughter, advice on life and very little about the cholera outbreak, Johnson said farewell to the packed auditorium and asked them to enjoy life. He came to talk about the book, but stayed to talk about student lives.