Book of the Year

College of the Redwoods proudly presents our 
2017/18 Book of the Year choice.

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

About the Author

Rebecca Skloot is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Her award winning science writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine; O, The Oprah Magazine; Discover; and many other publications. She specializes in narrative science writing and has explored a wide range of topics, including goldfish surgery, tissue ownership rights, race and medicine, food politics, and packs of wild dogs in Manhattan. She has worked as a correspondent for WNYC’s Radiolab and PBS’s Nova ScienceNOW. She and her father, Floyd Skloot, co-edited The Best American Science Writing 2011. You can read a selection of Rebecca Skloot’s magazine writing on the Articles page of her website.


(From Amazon ):
Henrietta Lacks was a mother of five living in Baltimore. A poor woman from African-American descent, she died from a ruthlessly aggressive cancer at the age of 30 where a sample of her cancerous tissue was taken without knowledge or consent. Also known by the scientists as HeLa, Henrietta Lack’s cells became one of the most important medicine tools of mid-century biology and medicinal science. The HeLa cell line played an important part in the development of polio vaccine, gene mapping, cloning, and many more discoveries, and her cells have been purchased and sold by the billions. Regardless of this fact, she remained virtually unknown, and her family remained so poor that they could not afford health insurance. A riveting tale of the conflicts between ethics, moral values, race, science, and medicine, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” surpasses other seemingly usual and plain stories of legal or scientific genre.  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks tells a captivating story of cell cultures against faith healing and cutting edge medicine against Henrietta’s family sufferings.

Read Reviews of this book:

The New York Times review

The Washington Post review

Wired Magazine review

Mission Statement

The Book of the Year Program encourages reading and discussion among students, staff, and community members.  Whether fiction or nonfiction, books are chosen to serve as stepping stones to more books and more discussion by introducing compelling voices that help to illuminate aspects of our world which may be unfamiliar.  Books are also chosen to help augment themes, concepts, or actions that are relevant to the diversity of courses and programs at the college.  Our ideal book is one that cannot be put down, one whose characters, places, and events linger in the reader's mind long after the last page has been read.

Committee Members

David Holper, Chair

  • Wendy Butler 
  • Ana Kolpin
  • Dana Maher
  • Will Meriwether
  • Shannon Mondor
  • Ruth Rhodes
  • April Klingonsmith
  • Jyoti Rawal
  • Robyn Roberson
  • Penelope Schwartz