The Honors Read

The 2023 Honors Read

Casey Gerald’s memoir, There Will Be No Miracles Here explores his life as a gay black man through his evangelical upbringing in a conservative and working-class Texas town, to being recruited to Yale on a football scholarship, to his political and business success in his adult life. Although his story seems like the epitome of the “American Dream,” Casey is critical in his discussion of what being successful in America means. Casey pushes against being reduced to the typical “rags-to-riches” narrative and candidly reflects on his relationships, failures, and struggles.

As you begin your journey through the Honors College, it is important to understand that you will encounter a variety of different themes and topics that could be overwhelming, as you will similarly encounter in this book. With that being said, it’s valuable to consider how these themes are interconnected and keep in mind how they will relate to future books you will read in the Honors Civilizations sequence and real world events. It’s essential as an Honors student that you go into reading this text with an open mind and empathy towards unique experiences. Here are some questions to keep in mind as you read: what does success mean to you? How do you think your journey will change you? How do our relationships define us?

About the Honors Read

Each year, starting in 2002, incoming Honors College students have been presented with a copy of the year’s Honors Read the summer before their first fall semester. While being asked to read a text over the summer before coming to college is not always viewed in a positive way, the Honors Read provides a common experience for each of these students coming to UMaine from across the state, across the country, and across the world. It is the first common text for this cohort, introducing new students into the nature and structure of the Honors curriculum. The Honors Read serves as the basis for a discussion in the first general session of these students’ Honors journey, and it informs subsequent discussions and explorations throughout their time in Honors.

The Honors Read (for the class entering the following year) is chosen each fall by a group of students enrolled in HON 309: The Honors Read Tutorial facilitated by the Dean of The Honors College. They consider texts nominated by members of the University community, narrow the candidates first down to eight books, then proceed to carefully analyze and evaluate each text based on criteria they have developed. The deliberation on each text includes consideration of reviews written by members of the tutorial and a discussion with the nominator of the text. The final three weeks of the course are devoted to deliberations focused on reaching a consensus on the next Honors Read and crafting a letter to the incoming students which accompanies each copy of the book.

Past Honors Reads

2022 – Braiding Sweetgrass (Robin Wall Kimmerer)

2021- Becoming Nicole (Amy Ellis Nutt)

2020 – Rising Out of Hatred (Eli Saslow)

2019 – Educated (Tara Westover)

2018 – Just Mercy (Bryan Stevenson)

2017 – The Reluctant Fundamentalist (Mohsin Hamid)

2016 – The Narrow Road To The Deep North (Richard Flanagan)

2015 – Never Let Me Go (Kazuo Ishiguro)

2014 – Eaarth (Bill McKibben)

2013 – The Sparrow (Mary Doria Russell)

2012 – What is the What (Dave Eggers)


“The Honors Read should provide students with an introduction to what Honors is all about and relate to the various readings within the first-year curriculum. In order to spark interest and discussion, it should say something both important and controversial.”

Sarah Penley ’04H