Think about multiplying your reading experience when you join 2Book Topeka, our new community reading initiative. Everyone in Shawnee County has the opportunity to read two books about the core of what makes us human: our DNA.

We are a reading community and have come together 11 times in the past to read the same book, talk about it, and enjoy events. Think of 2Book Topeka as “big read” times two!


  • Sat., June 3 | 7:30 – noon — Visit the 2Book Topeka booth at the Downtown Farmers’ Market for a chance to win one of the 2Book Topeka books.
  • Tues., June 20 | 7 – 8:45 p.m. — Share your insights during a discussion of The House of the Scorpion.
  • Sat., June 24 | 3 – 5 p.m. — Explore the ethical themes of the 2Book Topeka selections with Mary B. Sundal, Ph.D., Washburn University Associate Professor of Anthropology.
  • Thur., July 6 | 2 – 4 p.m. — Discuss your thoughts on The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
  • Sun., July 23 | 2 – 4 p.m. — Examine both 2Book Topeka books during this community discussion.
  • Sun., July 30 | 3 – 6 p.m. — End the 2Book Topeka community read with the Science Exploration Party! Join the party and learn a little more about science, cells and DNA. Earn a chance to win a DNA testing kit for genealogy purposes.

See the events page for more details.


Book #1:  The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot

Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer, yet her cells–taken without her knowledge–became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though she has been dead for more than sixty years. HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer and viruses; helped lead to in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks is buried in an unmarked grave. Her family did not learn of her “immortality” until more than twenty years after her death, when scientists began using her husband and children in research without informed consent. The story of the Lacks family is inextricably connected to the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, the birth of bioethics, and the legal battles over whether we control the stuff we are made of–From publisher description.

Book #2:  The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer

In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the young clone of El Patron, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States.

DNA Test Results