Michigan Engineering Community Read: Parable of the Sower

Join Michigan Engineering students, faculty and staff in a Black History Month Community Read of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower. The read takes place during February and March 2022.

Members of the College of Engineering community who register to attend a book discussion session in March will receive a complimentary copy of the book and a discount for tickets to the UMS performance of Parable of the Sower, March 25-27th.



Please register by February 23rd to receive a complimentary copy of the book. After February 23rd, we welcome you to obtain your own copy of the book and join us for a discussion!

About the Author:

Octavia E. Butler was a renowned African American author who received a MacArthur “Genius” Grant and PEN West Lifetime Achievement Award for her body of work. Born in Pasadena, California in 1947, she was raised by her mother and her grandmother. She was the author of several award-winning novels including Parable of the Sower (1993), which was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Parable of the Talents (1995), winner of the Nebula Award for the best science fiction novel published that year. She was acclaimed for her lean prose, strong protagonists, and social observations in stories that range from the distant past to the far future. (octaviabutler.com)

About the Novel:

When global climate change and economic crises lead to social chaos in the early 2020s, California becomes full of dangers, from pervasive water shortage to masses of vagabonds who will do anything to live to see another day. Fifteen-year-old Lauren Olamina lives inside a gated community with her preacher father, family, and neighbors, sheltered from the surrounding anarchy. In a society where any vulnerability is a risk, she suffers from hyperempathy, a debilitating sensitivity to others’ emotions. Precocious and clear-eyed, Lauren must make her voice heard in order to protect her loved ones from the imminent disasters her small community stubbornly ignores. But what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: the birth of a new faith . . . and a startling vision of human destiny. (octaviabutler.com)

This highly acclaimed post-apocalyptic novel of hope and terror from award-winning author Octavia E. Butler “pairs well with 1984 or The Handmaid’s Tale” (John Green, New York Times) (octaviabutler.com)

What Michigan Engineering Students Are Saying

“Octavia Butler is an incredible science fiction writer, and this book challenges so many assumptions about that genre as a whole. I feel like perceptions about science fiction run as an undercurrent in a lot of engineering, and this book offers a way to consider the future (and apocalypse) in a way that is centered on minorities, but hopeful and resilient…[I] know that there are pockets of students who are going to be really transformed by this experience.” – Fee Christoph 

“I really enjoyed the book, but there’s a lot of subject matter that was tough to read—anti-Black racism, rape, cannibalism, death, dismemberment, and torture, to name a few.” – Tess Mello

“This book offers a subtle critique on many parts of modern society, and is eerily familiar despite its pre-21st century publish date. While engineering is rarely explicitly mentioned, there are many events that can be analyzed through an engineering lens. This book offers a unique way to consider the role engineering plays in society.” – Niyati Puranik

Beyond the Michigan Engineering Community Read:

Michigan Engineering Common Reading Experience Background Information – The Michigan Engineering Community Read of Parable of the Sower is sponsored by the Michigan Engineering Common Reading Experience.  Each year, incoming, first-year Michigan Engineering undergraduate students receive a copy of a student-selected title and read the book in preparation for arrival on campus during Welcome Week in September. Students participate in small group discussions, as well as numerous events throughout the Fall semester. The book selection for the first-year Common Reading Experience in 2021 and 2022 is Born a Crime by Trevor Noah.  Learn more about the Michigan Engineering Common Reading Experience for first-year students.