A book is selected each year that engages Memphians in issues that directly affect their lives, and this year’s selection — Thick, and Other Essays by Tressie McMillan Cottom — meets that criteria by exploring the Black female experience in today’s America.

Publisher’s Weekly calls Thick an “incisive, witty, and provocative” collection that “showcases Cottom’s wisdom and originality and amply fulfills her aim of telling powerful stories that become a problem for power.” Itwas named a top book of 2019 by TIMENew York Times Book Review, New York Public Library, and Chicago Tribune; was a finalist for the National Book Award; and was the winner of the 2019 Reading Women Award for Nonfiction.

Author Tressie McMillan Cottom will be in Memphis at several Memphis Reads events, including speaking engagements at Christian Brothers University on October 13, Rhodes College on October 14, and at a Shelby County School. The times and locations for these events will be released closer to the event dates. Memphis Reads partners will host parallel events, giving multiple points of access to the issues addressed in Thick. All events will be free and open to the public.

Memphis Reads was created to give students a common academic experience and to connect them with the campus community, as well as the larger Memphis community. Having first-year students, upperclassmen, and faculty members read the same book provides them with numerous opportunities to discuss it throughout the school year — and by spreading the program city-wide, it provides the same opportunity for students and faculty at other schools and for the general community.

Memphis Reads is a community partnership between Christian Brothers University, Memphis Public Libraries, Facing History & Ourselves, City of Memphis, Shelby County Schools, Rhodes College, the University of Memphis, LeMoyne-Owen College, National Civil Rights Museum, NOVEL Bookstore, and Whole Child Strategies. Sponsors include International Paper, CBU, Rhodes College, and the Tennessee Arts Commission.

Thick, and Other Essays is published by The New Press (thenewpress.com) and is available at local booksellers and online through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and bookshop.org. Tressie McMillan Cottom is an associate professor of Information and Library Science at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and also authored Lower Ed: The Troubling Rise of For-Profit Colleges in the New Economy. Her work has been featured by The Daily Show, the New York Times, the Washington Post, PBS, NPR, Fresh Air, and The Atlantic, among others. McMillan Cottom was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2020.

For more information on Memphis Reads, please see www.cbu.edu/memphisreads or contact Dr. Leslie McAbee with the CBU Center for Community Engagement at lmcabee@cbu.edu or (901) 321-3537, or Dr. Karen Golightly at kgolight@cbu.edu or (901) 321-4483.