On Immunity is 2019 Reading TUgether Book | Trinity University
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On Immunity is 2019 Reading TUgether Book

Tuesday, July 30, 2019
book cover is superimposed with author portrait

Reading TUgether provides the entire Trinity community with a shared reading and learning experience

by Kale Ridge '21

Each year, the Trinity University community shares a joint reading experience through the Reading TUgether program, where students, staff, and faculty are all encouraged to read a single book. In the 2019 selection, On Immunity: An Innoculation (2014), Eula Biss mines her own experience as a new mother to explore broader conversations about vaccination, the history of medicine, and our responsibilities to each other. Weaving together historical research, literary analysis, and scientific understanding, Biss acknowledges the power of our fears but also reaches beyond them to illuminate our fundamental interdependence.

Michael Soto, professor of English and associate vice president for Academic Affairs, serves on the Reading TUgether committee. He says the book was chosen to “give students a sense of how urgent contemporary issues might benefit from the breadth and depth of questioning that lies at the heart of a liberal arts and sciences education,” like that in store for them at Trinity. “On Immunity grapples with science, politics, and culture in an eloquent and truly memorable way,” he adds.

Soto also believes that On Immunity provides “an exciting model for how creative non-fiction might give us entry into a wide range of disciplines explored at Trinity, from biology to sociology to literary studies.”

The highly acclaimed book addresses our fear of the government, the medical establishment, and what may be in our air, food, mattresses, medicines, and vaccines. Reflecting on her own experience as a new mother, Biss suggests that we cannot immunize our children, or ourselves, against the world.

On Wednesday, Aug. 21, at 7 p.m., Bliss will deliver the 2019 Reading TUgether keynote lecture in Laurie Auditorium. The presentation is free and open to the public. 

In recent years, Reading TUgether books have included Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss, The Circle by Dave Eggers, Anatomy of Injustice: A Murder Case Gone Wrong by Raymond Bonner, and The Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee. First-year Trinity students are required to read the Reading TUgether selection and to attend the lecture as part of New Student Orientation. Additionally, Tiger alumni are currently reading the book in the Alumni Book Club; alumni can join at this link.

Kale Ridge is the writing intern for the Office of Strategic Communications and Marketing and a rising junior pursuing a history major. He can be reached via email at kridge [at] trinity.edu.