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Chancellor's Reading Club

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2013 Selection

2013 Reading Club Selection

The Chancellor's Reading Club selection for 2013 is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot.

About the Author

Rebecca Skloot specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including goldfish surgery, tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, food politics, and packs of wild dogs in Manhattan.  She has worked as a correspondent for WNYC's Radiolab and PBS's Nova ScienceNOW


The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Skloot's debut book, took more than a decade to research and write, and instantly hit the New York Times best-seller list, where it has remained for more than three years since its publication.  Rebecca has been featured on numerous television shows, including CBS Sunday Morning, The Colbert Report, Fox Business News, and others, and was named One of Five Surprising Leaders of 2010 by the Washington Post... It has won numerous awards, including the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize for Nonfiction, the National Academies of Science Best Book of the Year award, the Wellcome Trust Book Prize, and two Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Nonfiction Book of the Year and Best Debut Author of the Year.  


The Immortal Life is being made into an HBO movie produced by Oprah Winfrey and Alan Ball.  Skloot is the founder and president of The Henrietta Lacks Foundation, which has been featured in the New York Times.  She has a B.S. in biological sciences and an MFA in creative nonfiction.  She financed her degrees by working in emergency rooms, neurology labs, veterinarian morgues and martini bars.  She has taught creative writing and science journalism at the University of Memphis, the University of Pittsburgh, and New York University.


For more about the author, visit her official page at


About the Selection

"One of the most graceful and moving nonfiction books I've read in a very long time... A thorny and provocative book about cancer, racism, scientific ethics, and crippling poverty, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacksalso floods over you like a narrative dam break, as if someone had managed to distill and purify the more addictive qualities of Erin Brockovich, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and The Andromeda Strain.  Skloot writes with particular sensitivity and grace about the history of race and medicine in America... It has brains and pacing nerve and heart, and it is uncommonly endearing.  You might put it down only to wipe off the sweat." 

~Dwight Garner, New York Times


Where to Find the Selection

Incoming freshmen must purchase the selection and read it before Orientation begins in August. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks can be found on sale at the FSU Bookstore. Purchase a copy at First Steps!

It is also available new, used, or as an e-book from, Apple iBooks, and Barnes & Noble, among other online sources.

Reading Club Assignment

Entering freshmen, your initial Reading Club assignment is to

  1. purchase a copy of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks;
  2. read it before you arrive on campus in August;
  3. review the discussion questions;
  4. participate in a discussion during Orientation Week.
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