Honors One Read

Each year the Honors College selects an important book – fiction or non-fiction – as its One Read. The major theme or themes of the book then becomes the focal point of honors community activities, programming, and even courses and academic units of study, all intended to extend the discussions and the impacts of the ideas and lessons for our lives.

The impact of these works on our students and their academic performance cannot be understated; students have gone on to win awards with their essays based on these works and they have even changed their plans for academic study after coming into deep contact with the issues raised.


2022 Honors One Read:
Kerri Arsenault, Mill Town: Reckoning with What Remains

Kerri Arsenault grew up in the small, rural town of Mexico, Maine, where for over 100 years the community orbited around a paper mill that provided jobs for nearly everyone in town, including three generations of her family. Kerri had a happy childhood, but years after she moved away, she realized the price she paid for that childhood. The price everyone paid. The mill, while providing the social and economic cohesion for the community, also contributed to its demise.

Mill Town is a book of narrative nonfiction, investigative memoir, and cultural criticism that illuminates the rise and collapse of the working-class, the hazards of loving and leaving home, and the ambiguous nature of toxics and disease with the central question; Who or what are we willing to sacrifice for our own survival?

About the Author

KERRI ARSENAULT is the Book Review Editor at Orion magazine, and Contributing Editor at Lithub. Arsenault received her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and studied in Malmö University’s Communication for Development master’s programme. Her writing has appeared in Freeman’s, Lithub, Oprah.com, and The Minneapolis Star Tribune, among other publications. She lives in New England. Mill Town is her first book.


One Read Honors Symposium (Required Event)

Saturday, August 20 | 10:30 AM
Missouri Theatre (203 S. 9th St)
All incoming, first-year Honors College students are expected to read the selected book over the summer and attend the One Read Symposium during Welcome Week.

One Read & Discord

Each week through June & July, we will be posting new discussion questions in the Discord. We will also have channels dedicated to any announcements and events surrounding the One Read.


One Read Essay Contest

Each year the Honors College supports and promotes deeper engagement with the One Read book through our sponsored essay contest, open to any first-year Honors student.

Essay Contest Gift Card Prizes

  • 1st Prize: $100
  • 2nd Prize: $50
  • 3rd Prize: $25
Previous One Read Selections & Essay Contest Winners
  • 2021: Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, Friday Black (Mariner Books, 2018)
    • 1st: Cam Bauman
    • 2nd: Emma McDougal
    • 3rd: Jacob Richey
  • 2020: Dr. Mona Hannah-Attisha, What the Eyes Don’t See (Random House, 2018)
    • 1st: Geoffrey Dean for “The Ignorant Roots of Flint’s Dirty Water”
    • 2nd: LeeAnn Nordstrom for “What the Eyes Do See: Civil Rights Abuse in Today’s Michigan”
    • 3rd: Bryson Ferguson for “The Silent Pandemic”
  • 2019: Rebecca Makkai, The Great Believers (Penguin Books, 2018)
    • 1st: Anna Nastasi for “Battle Scars”
    • 2nd: Morgan Erutti for “The Responsibility of a Legacy in The Great Believers”
    • 3rd: Annaliese Hermanson
  • 2018: Loung Ung, First They Killed My Father (Harper Perennial, 2001)
    • 1st: Allison Plogher for “Davi: Story of a Survivor”
    • 2nd: Alexandra Okeson-Haberman for “This is America”
    • 3rd: Rebecca Jackoway for “Thinking in Italics”
  • 2017: Louise Edrich, The Round House (Harper Perennial, 2013)
    • 1st: Carly Brown for “Tempering Passion”
    • 2nd: Samantha Smith for “Strong Women: On the Sidelines but Still in the Game”
    • 3rd: Karlee Adler for “The Morality of Characters in The Round House”
  • 2016: Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy (Random House, 2014)
    • 1st: Maxx Cook for “Just Mercy: A Prompt for Civil Discourse”
    • 2nd: Shoshana Dubnow
    • 3rd: Christian Cmehil-Warn for “Just Mercy: Dehumanization Exposed”
  • 2015: G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, Ms. Marvel: No Normal, v. 1 (Marvel Comics, 2015)

Planning & Symposium Committee

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

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.

For 2022-23 the following are in charge of developing, planning, and carrying out the programming that makes the One Read a success:

  • Vishvi Aurora | Biological Sciences & Physics
  • Harmon Colvett | Biomedical Engineering
  • Maddy Creach | Biological Sciences & Mathematics
  • Tess Howicz | Journalism
  • Emma Morrow | Nursing
  • Megan Boyer | Honors College
  • Traci Cox | Honors College
  • Rachel Harper | Honors College
  • Phong Nguyen | English Department
  • Catherine Rymph | Honors College