'The Big Read' program inspires
a jump into several new books
The National Endowment for the Arts sponsors a program called “The Big Read,” which encourages community organizations to choose one book to promote. The object is to get as many people as possible to read, and talk about, that one selection.
Here is a list of the titles offered by “The Big Read:”
“Bless Me, Ultima,” by Rudolfo Anaya
“Fahrenheit 451,” by Ray Bradbury
“My Antonia,” by Willa Cather
“The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
“A Lesson Before Dying,” by Ernest Gaines
“The Maltese Falcon,” by Dashiell Hammett
“A Farewell to Arms,” by Ernest Hemingway
“Their Eyes Were Watching God,” by Zora Neale Hurston
“To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee
“The Call of the Wild,” by Jack London
“The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter,” by Carson McCullers
“The Shawl,” by Cynthia Ozick
“The Grapes of Wrath,” by John Steinbeck
“The Joy Luck Club,” by Amy Tan
“The Death of Ivan Ilyich,” by Leo Tolstoy
“The Age of Innocence,” by Edith Wharton
How many have you read? Sadly, I’ve read just “The Call of the Wild,” and that was last year, listening to an audiobook on my iPod.
I am working with the librarians at Valencia Community College to get the college involved in “The Big Read,” and I plan to assign the students in all of my classes this fall to read “Their Eyes Were Watching God.”
Zora Neale Hurston lived for many years in Eatonville outside of Orlando, and there is an annual festival there celebrating her life and career. Seems like a good first choice. I’ll assign a different title every semester until I’ve read all 15!
Want to join in the fun? “Their Eyes Were Watching God” was available at my local Sam’s Club for $9.97, so if you see it, buy a copy and get in on the discussion.
And by all means, promote reading with your kids, your friends, your colleagues. If we don’t keep the tradition alive, Ray Bradbury’s world with no books – the scenario in “Fahrenheit 451” – could become a reality.
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You might notice that the “What I’m Reading” section to the right has been updated. I just finished “The Tender Bar,” J.R. Moehringer’s excellent memoir about coming of age with the help of a ragtag cast of characters in a local pub. It was well written, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny, often touching, and always entertaining. It was my “nightstander” for months, so at 4-5 pages before dozing off it took me a while to finish it, but a dedicated beach reader could knock it off in a weekend.
• “Made to Stick” is a book offered through a reading circle at Valencia, and we’ll have a campus-wide discussion of it July 19. I’ll have to get on the stick, pun intended.
• “The Assault on Reason” is my current drive-time audiobook selection. Will Patton – a coach in “Remember the Titans” and the bad guy in “No Way Out” – is the narrator.
Finally, on my 6,011-mile road trip in May, I listened to “Mary Mary” by James Patterson, “The Hard Way” by Lee Chill, “Shadow Man” by Cody McFadyen, “At Risk” by Patricia Cornwell, “The Interpretation of Murder” by Jed Rubenfeld, and “Winston Churchill: Man of the Century” by John Ramsden.
That works out to one book every 1,000 miles! I think I could be a cross-country truck driver as long as the iPod is working!