About the Reads: 2016

The Theme of the 2016 Reads is A Very Good Read.

The Book of Unknown Americans Cristina Henriquez, The Book of Unknown Americans. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014.

Please see the Finalists Page for more information about the titles which were under consideration.

Statement of Purpose

The Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads program is a community initiative to promote reading and civic dialogue through the shared experience of reading and discussing a common book.


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.

In subsequent years, the Reads Program has been co-sponsored by the Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti District Libraries and is 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.

Reads Theme

Previous themes have included a review of civil rights in the United States in celebration of the anniversary of Brown v Board of Education; “Revolutions in Science,” a discussion of evolution and the scientific method and “We the People...” how we define citizenship; in 2008 the theme was China and America: Bridging Two Worlds; and for 2009, The Universe: Yours to Discover. For 2012, the Steering Committee opted for a general theme of "Language: How We Communicate." The 2016 Reads theme is A Very Good Read and highlights a work of fiction.

Book Selection

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. In the fall, a panel of distinguished judges reviewed the two titles suggested by the Screening Committee and made a final recommendation of the Reads book for the coming year.

Ann Arbor/Ypsilanti Reads 2016 is scheduled to occur January through February 2016. Please watch this site for more information.