uci great big read

Join us to #ActForInclusion by exploring ideas that support diverse identities, challenge our perspectives, and connect us as a community of readers

Join us at UCI Great Big Read Events!


Interior Chinatown (2020) by Charles Yu

The Vanishing Half (2020) by Brit Bennett
Main character Willis Wu enters a world larger than he's ever known, discovering a secret history of Chinatown, as well as secrets of his own family. Winner of the 2020 National Book Award. NOTE: Readers are asked to purchase on own.Two identical twin sisters from a small Southern town lead different lives - one in her Black community and another passing for White in a different community. Long listed for the National Book Award. NOTE: Readers are asked to purchase on own.


Join us to create fun read-aloud/read along recordings of brief passages from your favorite books supporting community and inclusion. Submit your interest and we will contact you April-May 2021!





May 19, 2021

12:00 p.m.-12:45 p.m. PT 

UCI Great Big Read Presents Charles Yu

RSVP to receive links to this free and public virtual event.

Recipient of the 2020 National Book Award for our current read, Interior Chinatown, joins for a brief reading, stimulating insights, and live Q&A session. The author of four books, he has been recognized with the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 Award, also garnering attention for his work in different genres, including writing for the HBO series Westworld, and for fiction and non-fiction celebrated in publications that include The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Time, among others.

Facilitated by Professor Christopher Tzechung Fan (Departments of English and Asian American Studies)

Dates TBA

Plan to Join DYI Zine Making

Join a fun-worthy virtual event to learn about the history of zines and to make your own inspired by the UCI Great Big Read selections.

SUPPLIES NEEDED – have the following supplies ready for our sessions:

  • 8 1/2 x 11 paper
  • pen or pencil
  • scissors
  • glue
  • Fun extras: markers, magazines or newspapers, stickers, patterned paper, fabric, washi tape, photos

View zine making with Derek Quezada, UCI Libraries


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 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 (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 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.  Herrera-Gutierrez is Yuri Herrera 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 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.

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 here to access free reading links to our top-voted books.

Community Members:

Submit a registration for notifications about upcoming events and read along with your own books.

Tools For You!

Read the virtual Library Guide

View events at: UCI Great Big Read webpage.

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