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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

New Books Announced For 'The Big Read'

June 10, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Communities looking to rekindle their love of reading by joining the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) reading initiative The Big Read will now have even more great books to choose from.

Recently the NEA announced the addition of the following selections to The Big Read library:

— - Love Medicine, Louise Erdrich's first novel, joins the list for her stirringly humane attention to lives on the margin and voices little heard.

— - The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien is a contemporary look at the consequences of war and the arguably redemptive uses of storytelling.

— - The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder is a timeless and timely study of seemingly random human mortality. Communities celebrating Wilder for their Big Read project will be encouraged to enrich their programming with a production of Our Town, Wilder's enduring dramatic study of life in a small town.

— - A special collection of Edgar Allan Poe's short fiction and poetry will acquaint cities and towns with this titan of American literature who pioneered both the horror story and detective fiction, and whose verse marks the first appearance of poetry on the national Big Read list.

These titles will be available for Big Read grant projects taking place from Sept. 2009-June 2010. The Big Read library currently features 22 novels; a complete list is available at

Several U.S. publishers, including Random House, Picador, and Grand Central Publishing, are supporting The Big Read by identifying select titles with an official Big Read seal. The NEA chooses new books for The Big Read in consultation with the Readers Circle, a distinguished group of 22 writers, scholars, librarians, critics, artists, and publishing professionals.

The Big Read provides citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their communities. By 2009, the NEA will have funded more than 500 Big Read projects in the nation's towns and cities. The initiative comprises innovative reading programs in selected communities; expansive outreach and publicity campaigns, including broadcast and print publicity; compelling resources for discussing outstanding literature; and an extensive Web site offering comprehensive information about the featured Big Read authors and their works.

Each community's Big Read includes a kick-off, activities devoted specifically to its Big Read selection (e.g. panel discussions, lectures, public readings), events using the book as a point of departure (e.g. film screenings, theatrical readings, exhibits), and book discussions in diverse locations aimed at a wide range of audiences.

Communities that participate in The Big Read receive high-quality, free-of-charge educational materials to supplement each title. Reader's guides include features such as author biographies, historical context for the novel, and discussion questions. Teacher's guides adhere to National Council of Teachers of English standards and include lesson plans, essay topics, and reproducible handouts. The Big Read audio guides, which also can be used as radio programming, feature readings from the novel along with commentary from renowned artists, educators, and public figures.

A! ExtraTopics: Literature