Friday, May 7, 2010

The Big Read

I can't let May go by and without a post on the Big Read. Perhaps you haven't visited us for a while, or even if you have, maybe you hadn't noticed all those stacks of Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried displayed in various places around both libraries, as well as the posters that highlight the book and the events scheduled in Snohomish and Island Counties. After all, I read somewhere that only 12% of all women and 5% of all men (I will resist making any snide comments here) actually read signs. So you might have missed the fact that Everett Public Library and Sno-Isle Libraries are collaborating on the Big Read, a National Endowment for the Humanities program designed to foster reading and book discussions.

We did this last year with Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon. I am much more interested in this year's book selection. The Things They Carried, a novel about the Vietnam War and its aftermath told from the perspective of a group of soldiers who served together, is a powerful book. Unlike the The Maltese Falcon, O'Brien's book lends itself to discussion on many levels--whether your interests are literary, historical, or sociological, O'Brien has managed to make his characters and the situation they find themselves in real and intelligible even to those of us who know little about Vietnam.

We bought over 500 copies of the book in a variety of formats. More than half of them are checked out, including most of our book group sets. I would not have guessed that we could get Everett residents to check out almost 300 copies of the same book at the same time. And it's not even a bestseller, having been originally published in 1990. I hope you'll read the book, attend some of the outstanding programs we've scheduled during the month, and most of all, I hope you'll talk about what you've read, whether at a library event or among friends. It's a great way to connect with your community.

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