The College Reads!

The College Reads! is the College of Charleston’s campus-wide common reading program designed to connect students, faculty, and staff around a single book to promote the idea that liberally educated people read broadly and discuss with one another ideas arising from the books they share.  All incoming students and roster faculty can opt-in for a book. Additional copies are made available for borrowing and sharing widely across campus.

2022-2023 Book Selection

The College Reads! book selection for 2022-2023 is How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America, by Clint Smith (2021). 

The book examines the legacy of slavery in America—and how both history and activism continue to shape our everyday lives.  Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks—those that are honest about the past and those that are not—that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation's collective history, and ourselves.  A deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and itscover of the story of more imprint on centuries of American history, How the Word Is Passed illustrates how some of our country's most essential stories are hidden in plain view—whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods like downtown Manhattan, where the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women, and children has been deeply imprinted. 

Informed by scholarship and brought to life by the story of people living today, Smith's debut work of nonfiction is a landmark of reflection and insight that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role that memory and history can play in making sense of our country and how it has come to be.This compelling #1 New York Times bestseller examines the legacy of slavery in America—and how both history and activism continue to shape our everyday lives. Beginning in his hometown of New Orleans, Clint Smith leads the reader on an unforgettable tour of monuments and landmarks—those that are honest about the past and those that are not—that offer an intergenerational story of how slavery has been central in shaping our nation's collective history, and ourselves. A deeply researched and transporting exploration of the legacy of slavery and its imprint on centuries of American history, How the Word Is Passed illustrates how some of our country's most essential stories are hidden in plain view—whether in places we might drive by on our way to work, holidays such as Juneteenth, or entire neighborhoods like downtown Manhattan, where the brutal history of the trade in enslaved men, women, and children has been deeply imprinted. Informed by scholarship and brought to life by the story of people living today, Smith's debut work of nonfiction is a landmark of reflection and insight that offers a new understanding of the hopeful role that memory and history can play in making sense of our country and how it has come to be.

The author, Clint Smith, is a staff writer at The Atlantic. He is the author of the narrative nonfiction book, How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning With the History of Slavery Across America, which was a #1 New York Times bestseller and one of the New York Times Top Ten Books of 2021. He is also the author of the poetry collection Counting Descent. The book won the 2017 Literary Award for Best Poetry Book from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. He has received fellowships from New America, the Emerson Collective, the Art For Justice Fund, Cave Canem, and the National Science Foundation. His writing has been published in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review and elsewhere. Born and raised in New Orleans, he received his B.A. in English from Davidson College and his Ph.D. in Education from Harvard University. 

Clint Smith will participate in an on campus visit in the fall 2022 semester.   CofC students, faculty and staff and the public will be welcome to attend a public talk followed by a Q&A that will be part of his visit.  The public event will be on Monday, October 24 at 7 pm in Sottile Theatre.  It is not a ticketed event.  

All faculty and incoming students are encouraged to read this selection as it will be connected to the academic curriculum and campus activities throughout the year.  

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