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2019 Washtenaw Reads Finalists have been announced!

Fri, 08/03/2018 - 12:29pm by howarde

The Washtenaw Reads Screening Committee has chosen two titles as finalists for the 2019 Washtenaw Read: Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (fiction) and Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo (nonfiction.) One of these two books will be chosen as the 2019 Washtenaw Read by a panel of local judges from communities around Washtenaw County.

What is Washtenaw Reads?

Washtenaw Reads is a community initiative to promote reading and civic dialogue through the shared experience of reading and discussing a common book.  

Library, University, bookstore, and community representatives from Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Northfield Township, Saline, and Ypsilanti participate in planning and hosting this year’s community read, which will take place in January through February of 2019.  

The Finalists

Cover of Exit West by Moshin HamidExit West by Mohsin Hamid (New York: Riverhead Books, 2017) is the story of a young couple in a country teetering on the brink of civil war. When it war breaks out, turning familiar streets into a patchwork of checkpoints and bomb blasts, they begin to hear whispers about doors—doors that can whisk people far away, if perilously and for a price. As the violence escalates, they decide that they no longer have a choice.  Exit West follows these remarkable characters as they emerge into an alien and uncertain future, struggling to hold on to each other, to their past, to the very sense of who they are.


Cover of Reading with Patrick by Michelle Kuo

Reading With Patrick: A Teacher, A Student, And A Life-Changing Friendship (New York: Random House, 2017) is Michelle Kuo’s memoir of her complicated but rewarding mentorship of one student, Patrick Browning, and his remarkable literary and personal awakening. Recently graduated from Harvard University, Kuo arrives in the rural town of Helena, Arkansas, as a Teach for America volunteer, but soon encounters the jarring realities of life in one of the poorest counties in America, still disabled by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. Though Michelle loses some students to truancy and even gun violence, she is inspired by Patrick, who, fifteen and in the eighth grade, begins to thrive under her exacting attention. Years later, Michelle learns that Patrick has been jailed for murder and returns to Helena to resume Patrick’s education. Even as he sits in a jail cell awaiting trial, he grows into a confident, expressive writer and dedicated reader. Michelle is also transformed, contending with the legacy of racism and the questions of what constitutes a “good” life and what the privileged owe to those with bleaker prospects.

Add yourself to the hold list for Exit West and Reading with Patrick, and once you’ve finished reading, let us know what you think here!


Wow, I have read them both. I would go with Exit West as it has so much more to discuss and ponder and is very relevant in this age of worrying about immigration and refugee status.

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