The Big Read

                February 2nd marks the start of a community-wide event, The Big Read. Now, you may ask, “What in the world is The Big Read?” The Big Read is sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with Arts Midwest. The program is “designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The Big Read provides competitive grants to support innovative reading programs in selected communities.  Through The Big Read, selected communities come together to read, discuss, and celebrate one of 36 selections from U.S. and world literature.” (

            Every year, about 75 communities are chosen to take part in the program. To date, more than 1,000 grants have been awarded to communities in the U.S. to host Big Reads since the program’s 2007 national launch.

            This year, Evansville’s chosen book described by USI’s news release about the event is, “The Grapes of Wrath, a novel that depicts economic hard times and environmental issues faced by those who lived through the Great Depression, was selected for the community read as it closely relates to the world we live in today. I read this book back in high school and it was one of my favorites. It is a great story of how people overcame economic hardship, drought on a farm, and hopelessness. This novel is very inspiring and would be a great read for any student. Whether you read the entire novel or just a couple chapters, I encourage all students to try to take little time out of their day and explore this novel.Image

             As I mentioned, Rice Library will be encouraging students to read The Grapes of Wrath during The Big Read. So in order to help students indulge in this novel they will have the book available at all times so students can read it whenever works best for them. The Grapes of Wrath will be set aside on reserve at the front desk for all students. All you have to do is ask for the reserve version of The Grapes of Wrath at the front desk and it will be all yours for 24 hours and you can take it home, as well. Pretty easy, right?

             Some of you may not be huge readers, I understand. Even if you don’t have the urge to read The Grapes of Wrath on your spare time, there is another way you can participate in The Big Read. There is also a movie version of The Grapes of Wrath. Like the book, Rice Library will have the movie on reserve, as well, so that you can enjoy the story in a different form. This will be available for an entire week! I’m thinking a Grapes of Wrath viewing party is in order!

              Starting February 2nd there will be multiple events for The Big Read. Each event will be promoting people getting involved in reading The Grapes of Wrath, as well as making it easier for people to do so. Some of the events are as listed:

  • February 2nd , 2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
    • A panel of USI faculty will discuss the relevance of the book and books will be distributed
  • February 21st, 7:00 P.M.
    • Showing of The Grapes of Wrath movie in Forum 1 on USI campus
  • March 2nd, 2:00 P.M. – 4:00 P.M.
    • Closing panel of The Big Read at Evansville Vanderburgh Library

There are also multiple book discussions at public libraries throughout The Big Read so be sure to check those out as well. All of the events are listed at this URL:

             I  hope that many of you will do your best to participate in The Big Read this year. It is a great event that expands literacy across our country and helps people become more familiar with our greatest works of literature. Be sure to stop by the library on February 2nd or after to pick up a copy of The Grapes of Wrath and be a part of one of the biggest reading events of the year!

Read on,

                        Austin Viano

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