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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 2023 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.

2019-2020 Book: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

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Called a “breathtaking novel…[that] arrives at an urgent time” by NPR, Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West is an astonishingly visionary love story that imagines the forces that drive ordinary people from their homes into the uncertain embrace of new lands. Winner of the 2018 LA Times Book Prize and selected as the 2017 New York Times Best Book of the Year, Hamid’s work in Exit West has been hailed as “moving, audacious, and indelibly human” by Entertainment Weekly where the novel received an “A” rating.

Set in a country teetering on the brink of civil war, Exit West  is the story of two young people—sensual, fiercely independent Nadia and gentle, restrained Saeed—who embark on a furtive love affair, and are soon cloistered in a premature intimacy by the unrest roiling their city. When it explodes, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, Nadia and Saeed decide that they no longer have a choice. Leaving their homeland and their old lives behind, they find a door and step through. . . .

Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are. Profoundly intimate and powerfully inventive, it tells an unforgettable story of love, loyalty, and courage that is both completely of our time and for all time.

Find out more about Hamid’s work at his website.


October 6, 2019: An American Tail, Images Cinema film screening

October 13, 2019: Dheepan, Images Cinema film screening

January 2020: Portals Project - campus-wide door decorating project

April 10, 2020: Mohsin Hamid Speaks on Campus

Recent Williams Reads Books

2018-2019-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, … Continue reading “2018-2019-Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward”

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”