The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

by Rebecca Skloot

Read2Achieve book for 2016

Who was Henrietta Lacks?  Most people do not realize that many of today's medical advances would not exist if not for the cells cultured from Mrs. Lacks.  The HeLa cell line has been reproducing in labs since the 1950s when doctors at Johns Hopkins University took the cells without her knowledge. Rebecca Skloot investigates the origin of the cells, telling the remarkable story of Henrietta Lacks and her descendants.  For a full book synopsis, visit

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks Cover

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

UTC's 2016 Read2Achieve Book Selection


Read along with us as we explore the questions that surround this controversial medical issue.

Book Reviews of The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks:


About the Author: Who is Rebecca Skloot?


I'm interested, how can I get involved?

Read the book!  We would like to start a campus-wide dialogue.  It is available at the UTC Bookstore, online, and at your local bookstores.  If you are on-campus (current students, faculty, and staff), look for emails in the month of December that will direct you to book clubs starting in January.  If you are not yet on campus (incoming students, #UTC20), we will have group discussions on Friday, August 19, 2016. 


How was the book selected?

Books selections were submitted through our website early in the semester.  We received over 100 submissions and some of the books were duplicates.  A subcommittee reviewed all the submissions along with goals and spirit of the program and reduced the list to 15 books.  The entire committee reviewed the list of 15 books and reduced the list again to 5 books.  The committee members read all five books the last 6 weeks of the fall semester. At a final meeting in mid-November, the committee selected The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.


Who selected the book?

The Read2Achieve committee is composed of students, staff, and faculty from across campus, 27 members!  There are representatives from academic departments including English, Chemistry, Management, Education, Integrated Studies, and Nursing.  There are 5 student members. Other offices include Academic Affairs, Student Affairs, Orientation, Housing, Admissions, Athletic Training, Student Success, Library, Development, and Athletics Advising.


What other four books were considered?

Other books that were considered included Girl in Translation, Into the Wild, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, and The Yellow Birds.


Are there other universities/colleges that have used The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for a common reading program?

Yes, other universities that have successfully used the book for their reading programs include University of South Florida, Gustavus Adolphus College, Rowan University, University of Maryland, NC State, Northwestern University, and many others.


Thank you for supporting Read2Achieve!

The Read2Achieve Committee also encourages all members of the University and Chattanooga community to participate in the year's reading experience and the related activities.  Events and activities related to Read2Achieve will be scheduled throughout the year, and information will be posted regularly to this site.