UCI Great Big Read

UCI Great Big Read

The UCI Great Big Read is a partnership initiative hosted by the Office of Inclusive Excellence, UCI Libraries, and Division of Student Affairs to foster engagement and social solidarity during a time when we may need to practice physical distancing.

This program is free and open to UCI students, faculty, staff, and community members.

UCI Students, Staff, and Faculty

Register at the UCI Registration tab or access free reading links to our top-voted books.

Community Members

Register for notifications about upcoming events and read along with your own books.

Tools For You!

Read the virtual Library Guide

Make your own zine, with Derek Quezada, UCI Libraries

Past Events

Thank you for your support of UCI Great Big Read Events!

kindred cover

Kindred by Octavia Butler (1979; 2004)

A classic time travel novel about a heroine caught between two worlds

Events included:

June 24 Kindred as a Graphic Novel presented by Research Librarian Richard Minkyu Cho, UCI Libraries

July 2 Book Club presented by Reference Department Head Cynthia Johnson, Grunigen Medical Library

July 9 special event with Nnedi Okorafor. A recipient of Hugo and Nebula Awards, Dr. Okorafor won the prestigious Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature for her debut novel, Zahrah the Windseeker, and has written comics for Marvel that include Black Panther: Long Live the King, and Wakanda Forever. During her conversation with UCI Professor John Murillo III, she discussed themes from Octavia Butler’s Kindred and her co-written adaptation of Butler’s Wild Seed, as well as her masterful and stirring works that include the Binti trilogy, and Who Fears Death (developed as an HBO series).


Afterlife by Julia Alvarez (2020)

An immigrant writer, recently widowed, examines hope

Events included:

July 23 Book Club presented by Chancellor’s Professor Jonathan Alexander (Department of English)

August 6 special event with Julia Alvarez. The author of Afterlife and several novels, including How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents, discussed her stirring new masterpiece with UCI Professor Anita Casavantes Bradford.  Alvarez is a recipient of a National Medal of Art, a Hispanic Heritage Award in Literature, and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature for her vivid depictions of identity, family, hope, and navigating cultural divides.

There There book cover

There There by Tommy Orange (2018)

Twelve characters from Native communities travel to a Big Oakland Powwow.

Events included:

November 12 Book Club presented by Richard Cho (UCI Libraries) and Library Interns Kayla Ettinger and Imelda Rodriguez

November 16 Zine Making presented by Kelsey Brown (UCI Libraries)

December 3 special event with Tommy Orange.  The author of There There discussed book themes that reflected on the current state of affairs, facilitated by UCI Professor Alicia Carroll (Department of Comparative Literature).  Orange received the 2019 American Book Award and was finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in fiction.  He is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes of Oklahoma and resides in California.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

Becoming by Michelle Obama (2018)

Former First Lady Michelle Obama provides insights on her personal journey and professional triumphs.

Events included:

February 11, 2021 Book Club presented by Professor Jessica Millward (History) and Assistant Vice Chancellor Marguerite Bonous-Hammarth (Office of Inclusive Excellence)

February 17 Zine Making presented by Kelsey Brown (UCI Libraries)

Signs Preceding the End of the World cover

Signs Preceding the End of the World by Yuri Herrera-Gutierrez (2015)

The author explores the crossings and translations people make in their minds and in language as they move from one country to another, especially when there’s no going back.  His main character, Makina, is a young woman who knows only too well how to survive in a violent, macho world. Leaving behind her life in Mexico to search for her brother, she is smuggled into the USA carrying a pair of secret messages – one from her mother and one from the Mexican underworld.

Events included:

March 16 Zine Making by Kelsey Brown (UCI Libraries)

March 18 Book Club presented by Richard Cho (UCI Libraries)

March 24 special event with author Yuri Herrera-Gutierrez in facilitated conversation with Professor Louis DeSipio (Department of Chicano/Latino Studies and Department of Political Science.  Yuri Herrera-Gutierrez is a political scientist, editor, and contemporary Mexican writer, and serves as an associate professor at Tulane University Department of Spanish & Portuguese.  He received a 2016 Best Translated Book Award in 2016 for Signs Preceding the End of the World.

Interior Chinatown book cover

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu (2020)

Winner of the 2020 National Book Award. “Generic Asian Man” Willis Wu is in an entertainment spotlight, finding himself launched into a wider world than he’s ever known, discovering not only the secret history of Chinatown, but the buried legacy of his own family.

Events included:

May 10 UCI Great Big Read-Do More

Douglas Haynes, Chief Diversity Officer and Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

Wenbo Li, Doctoral Candidate and Co-Author of “Testing Three Explanations for Stigmatization of People of Asian Descent during COVID-19

Marcelle Hayashida, Associate Vice Chancellor for Wellness, Health, and Counseling Services, Division of Student Affairs

Thuy Vo Dang, Research Librarian for Asian American Studies and Curator for the Southeast Asian Archive, UCI Libraries

Engaging panelists discussed strategies and resources to address anti-Asian racism during COVID-19.

May 19 special event with author Charles Yu was facilitated by Professor Christopher Tzechung Fan (Departments of English, Asian American Studies, and East Asian Studies). Charles Yu discussed major themes from his 2020 National Book Award-winning novel, Interior Chinatown. The author has written in multiple genres, his previous works include the science fiction novel How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, short story collections Third Class Superhero and Sorry Please Thank You, and multiple stories for television, including for the hit HBO show Westworld. He received two award nominations from the Writers Guild of America for his Westworld episodes.

The Vanishing Half cover

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (2020)

The Vignes twins choose different life paths, bringing a focus on race, identity and passing full circle.

Events included:

July 8, 2021 Book Club presented by UCI Research Librarians Tatiana Bryant and Richard Minkyu Cho.

July 13, 2021 special event with Brit Bennett, facilitated by Professor Sandra Harvey (Department of African American Studies). The Vanishing Half, was longlisted among the 2020 National Book Award selections and told the story of the Vignes twin sisters from the Deep South to California during the 1950s to the 1990s, using the framework of identities and circumstances to explore the American history of passing. Author Brit Bennett has penned New York Times‘ bestsellers and has been recognized by the National Book Foundation as a “5 Under 35” honoree, a NAACP Image Award Finalist, and one of Time’s “Next 100 Influential People.Who Fears Death (developed as an HBO series).


Thank you for your support of the UCI Great Big Read, a project that aimed to foster social solidarity during the physical distancing circumstances of the pandemic.

Would you please submit your anonymous responses to help improve future OIE offerings? Thank you!

UCI Great Big Read was brought to you by the UCI Office of Inclusive Excellence, UCI Student Affairs, and UCI Libraries