The Great Read

Join us for a Great Read!

'Changing Natures', our specially commissioned Welcome e-book, features seven thought-provoking and conversation-inspiring short stories. The stories are written by an incredibly diverse range of authors - from George Orwell to our own students - each exploring the themes of human nature and the changing world around us. What will they mean to you?


The Great Read is a ‘shared reading’ campaign that aims to enhance our sense of community, creating a shared interest amongst students and staff and acting as a catalyst for conversation and connection.

Each year we choose a book to share with the whole University of Liverpool community – every member of staff and every student receives an e-book* of the chosen text to read over Summer. We then hold related events in Semester 1, with everyone welcome to attend and share their thoughts or listen to the conversation – it’s like a giant book club!

The stories we have chosen for our Great Read are:

  • Shooting An Elephant by George Orwell
  • Recitatif by Toni Morrison
  • The Last Question by Isaac Asimov
  • The Demon Lover by Elizabeth Bowen
  • A Cadaver’s Guide to Referenda by Sammy Ali, University of Liverpool medical student
  • Loggerhead by Saul Leslie, University of Liverpool PhD candidate
  • Nothing Rests by Professor Frank Shovlin, University of Liverpool Institute of Irish Studies

Download the FREE e-book 

How do I get involved?

Well, first of all – read the e-book The Great Read! Download it to your reading device and get reading! After that, well there’s no limit to the ways you could get involved – but here are a few suggestions:

  • Discuss the stories with your friends, coursemates, colleagues and members of staff – ask them if they’ve read the stories and what they thought of them – this could be a great ice-breaker
  • We’d love to know what you thought of the stories! Post your thought on social media using the hashtag #LivGreatRead
  • Join us for the events below

The Great Read is copyright protected and supplied to University of Liverpool staff and students for their personal use only. To protect against unauthorised copying, printing and downloading, it is understood and agreed that University of Liverpool staff and students will not share either the link or their copy of the text.

If you require the text in a different format please contact us.


The Great Read discussion events

Reading a book

Come along to two events celebrating this year’s Great Read anthology Changing Natures. Organised by the Department of English, these roundtable discussions explore stories from the anthology in relation to two provocations, ‘Matters of Life and Death’ and ‘What is right?'. The events will include contributions from the prize-winning student and staff authors. Together we’ll consider big questions both existential and ethical, and ask how writing and reading can help us answer them.


Event 1: Matters of Life and Death will consider the stories ‘A Cadaver’s Guide to Referenda’, ‘The Demon Lover’, ‘Nothing Rests’ and ‘The Last Question’.

Monday 15th November, 5-6pm, via Zoom – register to attend here:

In conversation with Will Slocombe from the Department of English will be Sammy Ali (medical student, and author of ‘A Cadaver’s Guide to Referenda’), Frank Shovlin (Institute of Irish Studies, and author of ‘Nothing Rests’) and Ciara Kierans (Public Health, Policy and Systems).


Event 2: What is right? will explore the stories ‘Shooting an Elephant’, ‘Recitatif’ and ‘Loggerhead’.

Monday 6th December, 5-6pm, Zoom – register to attend here

In conversation with Sophie Oliver and Danny O’Connor from the Department of English will be Saul Leslie (doctoral student in English, and author of ‘Loggerhead’), Liz Sheffield (Earth and Ocean Sciences) and Michael Hauskeller (Philosophy).

"We read to know that we are not alone"...

William Nicholson
The Great Read event

The History of The Great Read

In 2019 the University of Liverpool launched The Great Read, our first University-wide shared reading project. All staff and students received a copy of the sci-fi classic, The Time Machine by H. G. Wells. As we’d hoped, the story fed into discussions across campus – Professor Rodi Herzberg joined Dr Mathew Bradley to explain how ‘spaghettification’ made time travel an unlikely scenario, and we watched Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’, drawing parallels between the 1895 novella and the 2019 horror film. In 2020 the project was shaped by the pandemic as we shared a collection of four short stories in an e-book, hoping to create connections as we worked and studied from home (“We read to know that we are not alone”). The project also began to be embedded in the curriculum, with language students translating the stories into Portuguese as part of their studies.

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