Common Read

Welcome to the 2021-2022 UM-Flint Common Read

We invite you to read the selected text, J. Drew Lanham’s The Home Place, and join in discussions and programs in the Fall and Spring semesters. Every academic year, the Common Read Committee selects a book that we encourage students, staff, and faculty to read. We hope that a common reading experience will emphasize the importance and pleasures of reading, facilitate conversations and relationships on campus, and engage us in local, national and global issues. We will update the Common Read web page as we add opportunities to discuss the book and its themes.

The 2021-22 selection is J. Drew Lanham’s The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature.

Lanham’s book pays lyrical tribute to the natural world– its beauty, resilience, and diversity. Using the history of his African American family rooted in the soil and woods of South Carolina, Lanham reflects on the development of selfhood and his intimate connection to and love of place. Lanham is a wildlife ecologist, ornithologist, and writer. He is a leading voice in discussions of the intersections between the environmental and social justice movements and a proponent of building an ethic of care for all people and places. The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature received the Reed Award from the Southern Environmental Law Center and the Southern Book Prize. It was a finalist for the John Burroughs Medal. 

“I am a man in love with nature. I am an eco-addict, consuming everything that the outdoors offers in its all-you-can-sense, seasonal buffet. I am a wildling, born of forests and fields and more comfortable on unpaved back roads and winding woodland paths than in any place where concrete, asphalt, and crowds prevail. . . I am an ornithologist, wildlife ecologist and college professor. I am a father, husband, son, and brother. I hope to some I am a friend. I bird. I hunt. I gather. I am a seeker and a noticer. . .” p. 3

“But in all my time wandering [in nature] I’ve yet to have a wild creature question my identity. Not a single cardinal or ovenbird has ever paused in dawnsong declaration to ask the reason for my being. White-tailed deer seem just as put off by my hunter friend’s whiteness as they are by my blackness. Responses in forests and fields are not born of any preconceived notions of what “should be.” They lie only in the fact that I am.” p. 4