'The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks' selected as 2012-13 Western Reads book
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" has been selected as the Western Reads book for 2012-13.
From the book's description:
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells—taken without her knowledge—became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. If you could pile all HeLa cells ever grown onto a scale, they’d weigh more than 50 million metric tons—as much as a hundred Empire State Buildings. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the atom bomb’s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown, buried in an unmarked grave.
Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to stark white laboratories with freezers full of HeLa cells; from Henrietta’s small, dying hometown of Clover, Virginia—a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo—to East Baltimore today, where her children and grandchildren live and struggle with the legacy of her cells.
Western Reads is WWU’s campus-wide reading program designed to promote intellectual engagement and civil discourse among members of the campus community.
All new freshman and transfer students at Western will receive a complimentary copy of "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" at orientation and will be invited to participate in a variety of Western Reads activities during the academic year, including discussions, faculty presentations and guest lectures.
The Western Reads selection committee is comprised of faculty, staff and students from across campus who work with incoming students. Criteria for selecting the book include accessibility, possibilities for interdisciplinary conversation and opportunities for students to reflect on their lives as learners.
"The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks" is the ninth annual book selected in the Western Reads program. Previous years' Westerns Reads books include "Religious Literacy," by Stephen Prothero; "The Young and the Digital," by S. Craig Watkins; "The Omnivore's Dilemma," by Michael Pollan; "The Battle Over the Meaning of Everything," by Gordy Slack; "Honky," by Dalton Conley; "Wild Life," by Molly Gloss; "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," by Mark Haddon; and "Persepolis," by Marjane Satrapi.
Western Reads is sponsored by the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education, the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services and by New Student Services/Family Outreach.
For more information about the Western Reads program, visit www.westernreads.wwu.edu.