August 9, 2020

2012 Common Reading Experience Finalists

The book selection subcommittee for the UM Common Reading Experience has recently chosen six finalists for the 2012 book nomination. The final selection is expected to be announced by early March. The six finalists for this year’s reading selection are:

An American Insurrection by William Doyle

In 1961, a black veteran named James Meredith applied for admission to the University of Mississippi. His challenge to the segregated society led to a legal revolt against white supremacy and triggered a chaotic battle between white citizens and federal marshals. An American Insurrection is a stunningly detailed, minute-by-minute account of the crisis.


Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

A resonant drama set in 1970s Mississippi, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter tells the story of Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones. Larry is the child of lower-middle-class white parents while Silas is the son of a poor, black single mother. The two share a special bond despite their different worlds. When Larry is last seen with a girl who disappears, the county views him as the culprit. The friendship between the two boys is broken. Twenty years later, another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. Now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they’ve ignored for decades.


The Glass Castle: A Memoir by Jeannette Walls

Jeannette Walls tells the story of her family and troubled youth in this beautifully written memoir. Rex and Rose Mary Walls had four children. Their family lived like nomads, moving among desert towns. When sober, Rex was a brilliant man who taught his children how to live life fearlessly, while Rose Mary painted and couldn’t stand the responsibility of providing for her family. Money eventually ran out and the romance of wandering faded. The family withdrew to a West Virginia mining town and their dysfunction escalated.


Maxine Harper’s Journey of Hope by Maxine Harper

Maxine Harper is a software developer, a special education teacher, and now an assistant professor and director of a research center at the University of Mississippi. What is unusual about Maxine is that she does it all from a wheelchair, with very limited use of her hands due to cerebral palsy. In her memoir, Maxine shares her climb up the educational ladder, from initial denial of admission to the regular education system, then to graduation as valedictorian of her class, and finally to completion of a doctorate degree in education.


A Mercy by Toni Morrison

A Mercy is a powerful tragedy that reveals what lies beneath the surface of slavery. The story is set in the Americas of 1680s when the slave trade was still in its infancy and prejudice and oppression were rampant. At the heart of the book is the disturbing story of a mother who casts off her daughter in order to save her, and of a daughter who may never escape that abandonment.


The Routes of Man: How Roads Are Changing the World and the Way We Live Today by Ted Conover

This spirited book investigates the power of roads and how they connect society. Ted Conover explores six key byways worldwide. In East Asia, he visits truckers whose travels have been linked to the spread of AIDS. In the West Bank, he monitors highway checkpoints with Israeli soldiers and then passes through them with Palestinians, witnessing the injustices and danger borne by both sides. The book reveals how, from ancient Rome to the present, roads have played a crucial role in human life, advancing civilization even as they set it back.