Read, Connect, Act: United Nations and University of Virginia Launch Humanitarian Book Club to Spur Action to Help People in Need – World

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The Humanitarian Book Club connects readers and relief experts from around the world to inspire real action for people caught in crises

(New York, November 7, 2022) Today’s launch of Read for Action: Humanitarian Book Club kicks off a unique, global initiative connecting book lovers and relief experts to inspire fresh ideas and real action to alleviate human suffering caused by violent conflict and climate crisis.

Created by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the University of Virginia (UVA) Humanitarian Collaborative and funded by the UVA Environmental Resilience Institute, the book club is an online initiative that brings together readers, writers, humanitarian experts and academics through the online discussion platform Discord. Participants will debate and analyze curated books on humanitarian challenges and find ways to take meaningful action.

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“Our project draws on fiction to raise public awareness, stimulate constructive dialogue and, most importantly, encourage action to help people caught in crises,” said Martin Griffiths, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Relief Coordinator. “We want to encourage people to read, connect and act together for the greater good.”

Kirsten Gelsdorf and Dr. Adrienne Ghaly of the UVA Humanitarian Collaborative said, “By bringing together the power of fiction with the realities of the global humanitarian response, we aim to create a community of readers engaged in pro-climate and pro-humanitarian action.”

This new initiative is being launched as the United Nations Climate Change Conference, known as COP27, gets under way in Sharm El Sheik, Egypt. The book club’s first series of online discussions, running from November 7 to December 7, will explore The Displacements by Bruce Holsinger, which tells the story of lives upended by climate catastrophe.

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“I’m eager to be a part of these new conversations around fiction and humanitarian action, and I’m excited to see how the diverse constituencies involved in Read for Action engage with the important issues at the heart of the project ,” said Mr. Holsinger.

Readers are encouraged to join Discord today to join the author, experts, researchers, and fellow readers for in-depth discussions, questions and answers, and live-streamed events.

The book club website lists details of upcoming discussions on Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West (January 15 – February 15) and Imbolo Mbue’s How Beautiful We Were (February 20 – March 20).

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For more information, contact:

Tomas de Mul ([email protected])

Dr. Adrienne Ghaly ([email protected])

About OCHA: OCHA’s mission is to coordinate global emergency response to save lives and protect people in humanitarian crises. We are in favor of effective and principled humanitarian efforts by everyone, for everyone.

About the UVA Humanitarian Collaborative: The UVA Humanitarian Collaborative at the University of Virginia Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy brings together researchers, practitioners, university students and community partners to address the world’s pressing humanitarian and development challenges. We conduct applied interdisciplinary research, engage in real-time analysis and assessment, and provide strategic recommendations.


United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
To learn more about OCHA’s activities, please visit


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