What is the Big Read?
Simply put, it’s a program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to restore reading to the center of American culture.
I’ve participated in many Big Reads through the Kansas City Public Library, most recently their Great War | Great Read on the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I. But the next Big Read I’m diving into will be much closer to home (about a block away and up a hill). My home town library, the Lansing Community Library, is reading The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien along with five other Kansas libraries this fall and winter.
When does it start?
The Big Read kicks off this Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 10:30 a.m. at the Lansing Community Library, 703 1st Terrace, Lansing, KS 66043. 913-727-2929
“The kickoff event will occur on November 8th at 10:30am with a viewing of a video documentary produced by students at Lansing High School. They interviewed and recorded oral histories of veterans from World War II through Afghanistan Wars. The community will also receive an overview of the upcoming events and have the opportunity to register for them.”
— Terri Wojtalewicz, Youth Services Librarian at Lansing Community Library, interviewed by Rimsie McConiga for the Leavenworth Times Read more here: http://www.leavenworthtimes.com/article/20141101/News/141109978#ixzz3IDKOObsN
Not Just Reading
Yes, we’ll be reading a book and there will be book discussions hosted by college professors. But there will also be multimedia, a panel discussion with Vietnam veterans, a workshop on memoir writing, and an opportunity to send cards and letters to service members currently serving overseas. Oh, and free books to the first fifty people who sign up for the book discussions.
The Things They Carried
The Vietnam War still has the power to divide Americans between those for it and those against. Today it also divides us, just as surely, between those who remember its era firsthand and those not yet born when the troops came home. There may be no better bridge across these twin divides than Tim O’Brien’s novel in stories The Things They Carried. The details of warfare may have changed since Vietnam, but O’Brien’s semi-autobiographical account of a young platoon on a battlefield without a front, dodging sniper fire and their own misgivings, continues to win legions of dedicated readers, both in uniform and out.
Introduction to the Book
Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried (1990) is considered one of the finest books about the Vietnam War. Far from a combat story of pride and glory, it is a compassionate tale of the American soldier, brimming with raw honesty and thoughtful reflection.
The book’s narrator follows a platoon of infantrymen through the jungles of Vietnam. We see them trudge through the muck of a constant downpour, get hit by sniper fire, pull body parts out of a tree, laugh while they tell their stories to each other, and fall silent when faced with making sense of it all—both in the moment and twenty years later.
What Are You Waiting For?
I hope to see you Saturday morning or at one of the other Big Read events planned for the coming months in the Lansing/Leavenworth area.
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