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Williams Reads aims to foster new connections among students, staff, faculty, and community members by exploring diversity through a common reading experience. Developed by the Committee on Diversity and Community (CDC), Williams Reads is an initiative offered as an opportunity for us to explore a book together that will help us to celebrate and deepen our appreciation of diversity. It is a goal of the CDC to select a book that will stimulate community engagement and challenging conversation.

Free copies of this year’s Williams Reads book will be sent this summer to all incoming Class of 2021 students in the preparation for First Days conversations. Special events, outside speakers, and other activities for the entire campus and local community will continue throughout the year.

2018-2019 Book: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward


“MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward has been hailed as the standout writer of her generation, proving her “fearless and toughly lyrical” voice in novels, memoir, and nonfiction. In 2017, she became the first woman and the first person of color to win two National Book Awards. She is also a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize.

With Sing, Unburied, Sing, Ward gives us a road novel through Mississippi’s past and present that explores the bonds of a family tested by racism and poverty. Margaret Atwood called it a “wrenching new novel…[that] digs deep into the not-buried heart of the American nightmare….” Sing was named one of the 10 Best Books of 2017 by The New York Times and Time. The Washington Post and Publisher’s Weekly also called Sing one of the year’s best books.

Jesymyn Ward’s webpage



Grandparents: Stories and Snacks


Complicated Love: Campus-wide installation

Reviews, Interviews and Appearances

In ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing,’ a Haunted Road Trip to PrisonNew York Times Book Review, Sept. 27, 2017

Jesmyn Ward’s Haunted Novel of the Gulf CoastThe New Yorker, Sept. 11, 2017

Ghost Whisperers, New York Review of Books, Mar. 8, 2018

Jesmyn Ward answers your questions about ‘Sing, Unburied, Sing,’ PBS NewsHour, Jan 31, 2018

Recent Williams Reads Books

2017-2018: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Williams Reads 2017-2018 Book: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson “Bryan Stevenson is America’s young Nelson Mandela, a brilliant lawyer fighting with courage and conviction to guarantee justice for all. Just … Continue reading “2017-2018: Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson”

2015-2016: Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario ’82

Sonia Nazario’s website Sonia Nazario on Facebook Interviews With Sonia Nazario: Against Perils and Odds: A Boy’s Trek to the U.S. NPR, air date: February 20, 2006. Mendoza, Sylvia. “The … Continue reading “2015-2016: Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario ’82”

2014-2015 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Rebecca Skloot’s website Interviews: ‘Immortal’ Cells Of Henrietta Lacks Live on in Labs. NPR, air date:February 18, 2013 Weise, Elizabeth. “Immortal Cells of an ‘Angel’.” USA TODAY. Mar 09 2010. … Continue reading “2014-2015 The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”