Gustavus Announces Reading in Common Selection for 2015-16

Posted on April 1st, 2015 by

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was published in 2010 and has been a popular common reading selection ever since.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks was published in 2010 and has been a popular common reading selection ever since.

Gustavus Adolphus College has selected The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot as its Reading in Common book for the 2015-16 academic year—the 16th year of the program at Gustavus. All first-year students are expected to read the book during the summer months before meeting with faculty members and other Gustavus students during New Student Orientation to discuss it.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks touches on themes such as race, trust, ethics, human culture, and social standing while telling the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor, southern, African American farmer diagnosed with cervical cancer in the 1950s. Months before her death in 1951, samples of Lacks’ cells were taken without her knowledge. Those cells eventually became known as HeLa cells and became one of the most important tools in medicine, assisting scientists in key developments such as the polio vaccine, cloning, gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, and more. The book also explores how Henrietta’s family continued to live in poverty and frequently poor health, and when they discovered her unknowing contribution decades later, it left them full of pride, anger, and suspicion.

Two members of the Lacks family are scheduled to come to Gustavus on September 15 for a Q&A and meet and greet. More information will be released as details are confirmed.

Besides being a New York Times bestseller, the book garnered several awards including the 2010 Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the 2010 Wellcome Trust Book Prize, the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Award for Excellence in Science Writing, and the 2011 Audie Award for Best Non-Fiction Audiobook.

Books for the Reading in Common program are chosen based on their literary quality, reading manageability and interdisciplinary nature. Copies of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will be available for purchase in the Book Mark beginning April 10 for $16 (new) and $11 (used) apiece. More information about the Reading in Common program at Gustavus can be found online at gustavus.edu/orientation/ReadingInCommon.php.

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Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin
jakin@gustavus.edu
507-933-7510

 

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