Friday, September 28, 2007

The Big Read

The National Endowment for the Arts has a program called the Big Read that is "designed to restore reading to the center of American culture." They have chosen 12 books to be read, discussed and celebrated in communities around the US: Bless Me, Ultima, The Great Gatsby, The Maltese Falcon, Their Eyes were Watching God, Fahrenheit 451, A Farewell to Arms To Kill A Mockingbird, The Grapes of Wrath, My Antonia, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The Joy Luck Club, The Age of Innocence An interesting group, to be sure. (look Kaaren - more Hemingway made the list) Of the 12 I have at least heard of 11 of them (sorry Bless Me, Ultima), but have only actually read 3 of them (don't ask how many i have been assigned to read at some point or another cause that is a totally different number). 5 of them are on my "to be read" lists and 2 of them are physically sitting on the "to be read" shelf as we speak. I have decided that I am going to have all 12 of them read in the next 12 months. I was at a library that had a display about the Big Read, which is how i heard about the initiative. There were snazzy bookmarks with all of the books listed on it, and there was a display for Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 (one of my favorite books, BTW), which was the book being highlighted. Along with multiple copies of the book, there was a booklet with discussion questions, commentary and an interview with Bradbury. It seemed well put together. In researching the event in Maryland, I just found out that Baltimore County Libraries have chosen this as the book they are going to focus on. Yippee! (LIGHTBULB MOMENT: i was at a BCPL facility when i saw the display on Wed cause i was returning books! it all comes together...) Anybody want to go see the movie on October 15th with me? I really liked one of the questions posed to Bradbury in his interview: If you had to memorize one book for posterity, what would it be? His reply was A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I think mine would be A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle; i can read it over and over again dreaming of tesseracts and meeting Aunt Beast. However, The View From Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis would each run a close second. All three books are deceptively simple (considered juvenile fiction- 2 out of 3 are even Newberry winners- and less than 200 pages), but carry an important theme about being a better person through love and self-less action. That is a message I would want to carry for posterity. What book would you choose?

3 comments:

Kaaren said...

Wow, most of those books are on my "Top 100 to read" list. Maybe another Hemingway will be better?? (please, God.)

I loved all The Wrinkle in Times books. My problem....swiss cheese memory. If I don't write things down (hence the blog) I forget EVERYTHING I've read. It's really bad. So, for now, I can't really pick "the" book. I know that of my most recent ones, The Grapes of Wrath was amazing. I loved it. I loved the "fambly" and the feeling of hope, even after everything is stripped from them; home, work, several members of the family leaving, the baby....they still had faith and never lost their sense of self-worth and love for each other. So, right now, that's mine.

srapalmateer said...

I am right there with you on THE VIEW FROM SATURDAY...what an awesome book!

Rea said...

The book of Philippians, in the Bible. So much good stuff...that's what I would (and am) memorizing.