Honors One Read

One Read Honors

Each year the Honors College selects an important book–fiction or non-fiction–as its One Read. The book then becomes the focal point of Honors community activities, programming, and even courses and academic units of study.

2019-2020 One Read Honors:  Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers

One of the most riveting and heart wrenching explorations of the AIDS crisis during the 1980s, Makkai’s work explores the nature of our society, political convictions, medical developments, and what it means to create one’s own family.

Riveting and suspenseful, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and winner of the Stonewall Book Award, this novel weaves two narratives, past and present, together, to document as well as explore the emotional history of a nation and individuals through the losses and tragedies of the 1980s.

Makkai is also the author of The Borrower, and The Hundred-Year House, which won the Novel of the Year Award from the Chicago Writers Association. Her work has also appeared in The Best American Short Stories series, Harper’s, and Tin House, among others. She lives outside of Chicago, a city that she loves and which features prominently in many of her writings.

Information, announcements, and the essay prompt for the current One Read Honors selection can be found on Canvas

One Read Honors Symposium (Required Event)

All incoming, first-year Honors College students are expected to read The Great Believers over the summer and then, during Welcome Week, attend the scheduled One Read Symposium.

The One Read Symposium is scheduled for Thursday, August 15, 2019, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. and you are expected to attend. It will be held at the Missouri Theater (at the corner of 9th Street and Locust St., just two blocks north of the Honors College and Lowry Hall).

Following the Symposium, we invite you to join us for 90 minutes of food (our annual tradition is to serve Panda Express), fun, and festivities on the Lowry Grassy Knoll (between Middlebush and Lowry on 9th St; Missouri Theater will be our rain location) where there will be music, games, activities, and entertainment.

Panda Express

Women who are participating in Sorority Recruitment and students involved in Marching Mizzou will have accommodations made to their recruitment schedule on Thursday so that they are able to attend the Symposium from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. You are required to attend the Honors event.

You may not be able to stay for the festivities, but there will be other ample opportunity to integrate into the Honors College community.

One Read Honors Events (Optional)

We will also schedule and host a number of related events in which the ideas and issues of the selection will be central, as well as carried into new avenues of thought and engagement. Students have the option of attending as many or as few of these events as their schedule allows.

There will be small group discussions, led by the Peer Assistants from the FIGs and other, select students in the College. There is even a course that builds on the topics of the book and goes much further and deeper. So there will be ample opportunities to examine the book and its ideas throughout the year.

One Read Honors Details and Handbook

Each year the College prepares a Handbook (including readings, procedures, a writing contest, etc.) as well as puts forward a slate of additional activities.  All of this is open to new students via Canvas.


One Read Essay Contest Winners!

2019: Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers

1st place: Anna Nastasi for “Battle Scars”

2nd place: Morgan Erutti for “The Responsibility of a Legacy in The Great Believers”

3rd place: Annaliese Hermanson


2018: Loung Ung, First They Killed My Father

1st place: Allison Plogher for “Davi: Story of a Survivor”

2nd place: Alexandra Okeson-Haberman for “This is America”

3rd place: Rebecca Jackoway for “Thinking in Italics”


2017: Louise Edrich, The Round House

1st place: Carly Brown for “Tempering Passion”

2nd place: Samantha Smith for “Strong Women: On the Sidelines but Still in the Game”

3rd place: Karlee Adler for “The Morality of Characters in The Round House”


2016: Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy

1st place: Maxx Cook for “Just Mercy: A Prompt for Civil Discourse”

2nd place: Shoshana Dubnow

3rd place: Christian Cmehil-Warn for “Just Mercy: Dehumanization Exposed”


Prior One Read Selections

2019-2020: Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers (Penguin Books, 2018).

2018-2019: Loung Ung, First They Killed My Father (Harper Perennial, 2001).

2017-2018: Louise Edrich, The Round House (Harper Perennial, 2013).

2016-2017: Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption (Random House, 2014).

2015-2016: G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, Ms. Marvel: No Normal, v. 1 (Marvel Comics, 2015).

The One Read Committee alternates between fiction and non-fiction in order to provide students with the best possible range of important and influential readings.


Planning and Symposium Committees

Anyone interested in joining the Planning and Symposium Committee should contact Dr. Rachel Harper.


For 2019-20 the following individuals are charged to develop, plan, and carry out the programming that makes One Read such a success:

J.D. Bowers, Honors College

Megan Boyer, Honors College

Christian Cmehil-Warn, Student (Senior)

Rachel Harper, Honors College

Sarah Kammeyer, Honors College

Molly McDermott, Student (First-Year)

Riley Messer, Student (Senior)

Phong Ngyuen, English Department

Morgan Smith, Student (Junior)


For 2018-19 the following individuals are charged to develop, plan, and carry out the programming that makes One Read such a success:

J.D. Bowers, Honors College

Kristina Bradley, Honors College

Alex Socarides, English Department

Rachel Harper, Honors College

Riley Messer, MU Junior, Cherng Summer Scholar


For 2017-18 the following individuals helped develop, plan, and carry out the programming:

J.D. Bowers, Honors College

Kristina Bradley, Honors College

Carli Conklin, Law School and Kinder Institute

Rachel Harper, Honors College

Darcy Holtgrave, Honors College

Tori Schafer, MU Senior, It’s On Us Campaign

Chris Walters, MU RSVP Center


For 2016-17 the following individuals helped develop, plan, and carry out the programming:

One Read Planning Committee                                         One Read Symposiums

Cynthia Bassett, Law School                                                Thomas Coulter, Sophomore

J.D. Bowers, Honors College                                                Martha Dragich, Law School

Kristina Bradley, Honors College                                          Maya Gibson, School of Music

Rachel Harper, Honors College                                            Habib A. Hassan, 2L Law School

Darcy Holtgrave, Honors College                                          Michael Middleton, President UM System

Frankie Minor, Residential Life                                              Jessica M. Peterman, 2L Law School

Nathan Winters, Residential Life                                           Vera Tan, Senior

Tracy Wilson-Kleecamp, University Athletics