Each year Sweet Briar announces a common reading book before summer break. Faculty, Staff, upper class students, and entering first-years are all encouraged to read the selection prior to orientation in August. The intention is create a common bond, stimulate intellectual conversations, and promote life-long learning. The books is often tied into the entry level English classes on campus so it is imperative that first-year students read the book.
The common reading book this year is “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” written by Rebecca Skloot. I started reading this book a few months and I never expected that I would become so interested in it! I’ve enjoyed the common reading selections in the past, but I found this book to be a real page turner. I have a 5.5 month baby and I would often read the book while feeding him at night so that I could guarantee that I would stay awake. Author Rebecca Skloot reveals the true story of Henrietta Lacks, an African American tobacco farmer from Virginia who developed cancer in 1951. During her cancer treatment, some of her cells were removed without her consent and have become immortalized as the primary cells used in medical research. He cells have been grown in labs and used in research since 1951. You may recall from Biology class, the term HeLa cells; He La stands for Henrietta Lacks. Her family did not know for many years that her cells where revolutionizing the medical industry and have never financially benefited from the multi-billion dollar industy. Rebecca Skloot spent approximately 10 years with Henrietta’s descents gathering the facts about this story.
I would highly recommend this book to anyone! It is such an interesting book and I am super excited to be going to Rebecca Skloot’s lecture on campus tonight. I know that Murchison Lane Auditorium will be packed at 7:30! I hope to see a lot of first-year students in attendance.