MTSU's Community Summer Reading Program was created in 2002 under the direction of Laurie Witherow, the Associate Vice Provost for Admissions and Enrollment Services. The objectives of the program are to:

  • provide a unifying experience for the entering class of students,
  • partner with Murfreesboro community organizations,
  • encourage intellectual interaction among students,
  • provide students with the opportunity to read and personally interact with critically-acclaimed authors, and
  • affirm the importance of reading for a successful and fulfilling life.

During CUSTOMS, all incoming freshman students receive packets that include a Summer Reading Guide, information about the author, and a list of course sections using the book selection for the Fall. In its first year, over 100 different course sections from three different academic colleges participated, along with six reading groups from the local community! More than 7,500 people attended last Fall's University Convocation where our guest author was invited to speak.



Our Summer Reading Program choice for 2020 is What the Eyes Don’t See; A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City, by Mona Hanna-Attisha. Flint was already a troubled city in 2014 when the state of Michigan, in the name of austerity, shifted the source of its water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River. Soon after, citizens began complaining about the water that flowed from their taps, but officials rebuffed them, insisting that the water was fine.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at the city’s public hospital, took state officials at their word and encouraged the parents and children in her care to continue drinking the water, after all, it was American tap water, blessed with the state’s seal of approval. But a conversation at a cookout with an old friend, leaked documents from a rogue environmental inspector, and the activism of a concerned mother raised red flags about lead, a neurotoxin whose irreversible effects fall most heavily on children. Even as circumstantial evidence mounted and protests grew, Dr. Mona knew that the only thing that could stop the lead poisoning was undeniable proof and that to get it, she’d have to enter the fight of her life.

What the Eyes Don’t See is a riveting, beautifully rendered account of a shameful disaster that became a tale of hope, the story of a city on the ropes that came together to fight for justice, self-determination, and the right to build a better world for their and all of our children. Just like the themes in the book, you too will experience moments in your college career that might be challenging, emotional and even historical.

We hope you will plan to join us in welcoming author Mona Hanna-Attisha, MD. as she addresses the incoming class at Middle Tennessee State University as our 19th Summer Reading keynote speaker at this year’s Convocation.

Past Summer Reading Program Book Selections at MTSU

For more information about the Summer Reading Program, contact Danielle Rochelle via email at Danielle.Rochelle@mtsu.edu or via phone at (615) 898-2808.

Information adapted from https://penguinrandomhouse.com.