Community Reads


SMU Community Reads 2016-18 Book Selection

book cover

Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital by Sheri Fink, Ph.D

Sheri Fink’s book “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital” has been selected as SMU’s Community Reads book for 2016-2018.

This “can’t-put-down” page-turner explores the thoughts, emotions, ethics and actions of health professionals and patients trapped by floodwaters in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina as they suffered intense heat, humidity, and unsanitary conditions without electricity, water or aid in New Orleans’ premier public hospital. Pulitzer Prize winning author, physician, and journalist, Sheri Fink has served as a relief worker in disaster and conflict zones.

Fink writes:

Concepts of triage and medical rationing are a barometer of how those in power in a society value human life…. Emergencies are crucibles that contain and reveal the daily slower burning problems of medicine and beyond—our vulnerabilities, our trouble grappling with uncertainty; how we die, how we prioritize and divide what is precious and vital and limited; even our biases and blindness (page 464).

Join us in reading and exploring together this true story that stirs the mind and heart to learn about critical issues that include the challenges of disaster relief, end-of-life decisions, team power struggles, human response under crisis, institutional inequities, and social justice. What determines health, illness, treatment choices, and even the length of a person’s life?


About SMU Community Reads
Community Reads is a two year community-wide initiative centered on shared reading of literature & deep dialogue related to critical issues in healthcare. Throughout the year we will engage as a community of scholars & a community of shared conscience as we read & explore issues related to health disparities and the changes we want to see. 

Criteria for Annual Book Selection

  • Addresses health disparities, health care, race
  • Published within 3-5 years
  • Compelling and interesting
  • Available teacher's guide
  • Availability of author or other relevant/authoritative speakers

Recommendations for future  SMU Community Reads' book?
To suggest a book related to health disparities to the SMU Community Reads Committee to consider, please email your recommendation to: .

Article for Further Reading

Community Reads Committee

  • Shirley Strong, Chief Diversity Officer, Office of Diversity & Inclusion
  • Hai-Thom Sota, Director, Library
  • Marjorie Hammer, Assistant Professor, School of Nursing
  • Ché Abram, Associate Director of Diversity, Office of Diversity & Inclusion
  • Monique Pinkney, Technology Training & Development Specialist, Information Technology
  • Shawna Holbrook, Admission Counselor, Office of Admission
  • Latricia Maddox, Adminstrative Assistant, Office of Diversity & Inclusion



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