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Community Reading 2018

between the world and me book coverWelcome to MCLA’s vibrant scholarly community! For the past 14 years, students, professors, and staff from across campus have come together to discuss a shared community reading—a tradition that helps us connect across difference and learn from each other. As the newest scholars in our community, the class of 2022 will help us continue this important tradition by reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me, winner of the 2015 National Book Award and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. This important book will help us engage in campus-wide conversations during MCLA’s November 8th Day of Dialog, which will culminate in a Public Policy lecture by Coates’ himself.

Ta-Nehisi CoatesBetween the World and Me addresses themes central to our liberal arts mission and broader democracy:

  • On the importance of civic knowledge and engagement;
  • On the importance of intercultural knowledge;
  • And on the importance of empathy when considering ethical reasoning and action.

This year’s community reading and the Day of Dialog events will serve as an introduction to these values and as a starting point to the vibrant conversations you’ll continue to engage in throughout your time at MCLA.


Author Biography

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic, a MacArthur fellowship recipient, and author of Between the World and Me, We Were Eight Years in Power, and The Beautiful Struggle. In addition, since 2016 he has collaborated with illustrator Brian Stelfreeze to write Marvel's Black Panther graphic novel series. His Black Panther story, “A Nation Under Our Feet,” was nominated for a Hugo award for Best Graphic Story. He is also working with illustrator Leinil Francis Yu on the next chapter of Marvel's Captain America, which will be released July 4, 2018. For more information on the author, please visit his official website:



“I’ve been wondering who might fill the intellectual void that plagued me after James Baldwin died. Clearly it is Ta-Nehisi Coates. The language of Between the World and Me, like Coates’s journey, is visceral, eloquent, and beautifully redemptive. And its examination of the hazards and hopes of black male life is as profound as it is revelatory. This is required reading.”—Toni Morrison

“Powerful and passionate . . . profoundly moving . . . a searing meditation on what it means to be black in America today.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Really powerful and emotional.”—John Legend, The Wall Street Journal

“Extraordinary . . . [Coates] writes an impassioned letter to his teenage son—a letter both loving and full of a parent’s dread—counseling him on the history of American violence against the black body, the young African-American’s extreme vulnerability to wrongful arrest, police violence, and disproportionate incarceration.”—David Remnick, The New Yorker

“Brilliant . . . a riveting meditation on the state of race in America . . . [Coates] is firing on all cylinders, and it is something to behold: a mature writer entirely consumed by a momentous subject and working at the extreme of his considerable powers at the very moment national events most conform to his vision.”—The Washington Post

Past Community Reading Books

  • 2017 - Jana Laiz, Weeping Under This Same Moon
  • 2016 - Sherry Turkle, Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age
  • 2015 - Jeff Speck, "Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time" 
  • 2014 - Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide" 
  • 2013 - Rebecca Skloot, "The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks"
  • 2012 - Sonia Nazario, "Enrique's Journey"
  • 2011 - Soledad O'Brien, "The Next Big Story"
  • 2010 - Laura Ling and Lisa Ling, "Somewhere Inside:One Sister's Captivity in North Korea and the Other's Fight to Bring Her Home."
  • 2009 - Paul Rusesabagina, "An Ordinary Man: An Autobiography"
  • 2008 - James McBride, "The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother"
  • 2007 - Karen Shepard, "Don't I Know You"
  • 2006 - Elizabeth Royte, "Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash"
  • 2005 - Tracy Kidder"Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul "
  • 2004 - Sarah Erdman, "Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village"  


Weeping Under This Same Moon


Reclaiming Conversation


Walkable City