Three titles have been chosen as finalists for the 2023 Washtenaw Read!
Cast your vote below for which one should be the winner and to read more about each title.
Such A Fun Age by Kiley Reid
Published April 20, 2021 | 336 pages
A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both. With empathy and piercing social commentary, it explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” and the complicated reality of being a grown-up. It is a searing debut for our times.
Call Me Athena: Girl from Detroit by Colby Cedar Smith
Published August 17, 2021 | 576 pages
This enchanting novel in verse captures one young woman’s struggle for independence, equality, and identity as the daughter of Greek and French immigrants in tumultuous 1930s Detroit during the Great Depression, hunger strikes, and violent riots. Written from the perspective of three profoundly different narrators, it has a wide-reaching message: It takes courage to fight for tradition and heritage, as well as freedom, love, and equality.
The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton
Published March 22, 2022 | 368 pages
An electrifying novel about the meteoric rise of an iconic interracial rock duo in the 1970s, their sensational breakup, and the dark secrets unearthed when they try to reunite decades later for one last tour. Provocative and chilling, it features a backup chorus of unforgettable voices, a heroine the likes of which we’ve not seen in storytelling, and a daring structure, and introduces a bold new voice in contemporary fiction.
History of Washtenaw Reads
Launched in 2003 by the University of Michigan Life Sciences, Values and Society Program, the Reads project was fashioned after a civic reads program designed by the Seattle Public Library. The book chosen for the inaugural Reads was “Lincoln’s DNA,” by Phillip R. Reilly. The Ann Arbor District Library was a major partner in this effort along with other area organizations.
The following year, the Reads program became known as Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads and expanded to include Ypsilanti and was co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti District Libraries and supported by interested civic groups, the University of Michigan School of LS&A, the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti Public Schools, local bookstores, Eastern Michigan University Libraries and Washtenaw Community College.
In 2016, the program was renamed Washtenaw Reads and expanded to include the communities and libraries of Chelsea, Dexter, Milan, Northfield Township and Saline.
Prior to 2014, each year's read had a theme, which can be viewed on the Past Reads page. Previous themes have included such subjects as: civil rights, science, citizenship and evolution.
Books chosen for the Reads should meet the following criteria:
- The writing should be engaging and thought-provoking.
- The subjects discussed should be accessible to readers throughout the community, high-school age and above.
- The length, price, and availability of the book should be suited to involvement by the general public.
- The book should be by a living author.
- Its treatment of issues should encourage readers to discuss the issues further with others, at home, work, reading clubs, and community events.
- Ideally, the subject should lead to constructive dialogues across our diverse communities.
During the summer the Book Screening Committee made up of individuals selected as representative of various civic constituencies read many titles reflecting the year’s theme. For the 2023 Read, three finalists have been selected and voting is now open to the public to assist in selecting the winner.