The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest, designed to give readers an opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their community and to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment.
The Big Read was created in response to reports by the National Endowment for the Arts in 2004 and 2007 that found that literary reading in American was declining rapidly among all groups, especially among the young. These declines in reading had civic, social and economic implications: literary readers were more likely to perform volunteer and charity work, visit art museums, attend performing arts events and attend sporting events. Fortunately, a 2008 NEA study, Reading on the Rise, has shown an uptick in literary reading rates.
The Pioneer Library System began its annual Big Read event in 2007 with The Grapes of Wrath, followed by Bless Me Ultima, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Maltese Falcon, The Things They Carried, and The Joy Luck Club. Each title was unique in its own way and each presented different opportunities for discussion and community events.
This year’s choice, Old School by Tobias Wolff, is, as Amazon.com describes it, “…a shrewdly—and at times devastatingly—observed first novel [about a] boy at an elite prep school in 1960. He is an outsider who has learned to mimic the negligent manner of his more privileged classmates. Like many of them, he wants more than anything on earth to become a writer. But to do that he must first learn to tell the truth about himself. The agency of revelation is the school literary contest, whose winner will be awarded an audience with the most legendary writer of his time. As the fever of competition infects the boy and his classmates, fraying alliances, exposing weaknesses, Old School explores the ensuing deceptions and betrayals with an unblinking eye and a bottomless store of empathy. The result is further evidence that Wolff is an authentic American master.”
Whether this is your first or seventh Big Read with us, we hope you participate in The Big Read: Old School to read, discuss and join in as many events as you can. The official The Big Read: Old School project begins March 27, 2013 and culminates with public presentations by the author, Tobias Wolff, in Shawnee, Norman, and Moore April 25 & 26.
Pioneer Library System