Over the last four years, The Big Read has changed the Lakeshore community and all who have participated in it. We have grown as a community and as individuals through this shared experience. Together, with Harper Lee we witnessed Tom Robinson’s court case in 1930s Alabama; with Tim O’Brien, we fought a long and oftentimes heartless war in Vietnam; with Edwidge Danticat we traveled to Haiti and glimpsed the grueling, sometimes cruel, process of United States immigration; last year, with Julie Otsuka, we saw the pain and turmoil of the Japanese internment camps.
This year, we go not back in time, but forward. Together we will see what our own home looks like after a global catastrophe shatters civilization as we know it, and observe a broken world begin to put itself back together. In the upcoming month we will learn and discuss the science behind pandemics, the role of art in our lives, and what it means, precisely, to be part of a community.
We hope that the learning and discussion will not be confined to any one event, group, location, or time. As we celebrate the start of another Big Read and welcome you to the 2018 program, we also extend to everyone an invitation. We invite you to read the novel Station Eleven, whether it be for the first time or the fifth, along with our middle-grade novel The Giver by Lois Lowry, and our Little Read selection Blackout by John Rocco. We invite you to reflect, individually or with others, on the meaning these books hold. We invite you to join us, to become another voice at discussions and another integral member of this community. And finally we invite you to speak, to keep the conversation going with friends, family, and neighbors, even after the events have finished and the program ended.
As our program has expanded geographically and thematically over the last few years, we are also expanding digitally. I would like to take a moment to invite everybody to share your experiences and ideas on your preferred digital platform, and be sure to tag @NEABigReadLakeshore or else to use the hashtag #bigreadlakeshore and become part of our digital network.
Contributed by Annika Gidley
Annika is a senior at Hope College, studying English and Spanish, and this year’s NEA Big Read Lakeshore student intern. When not at the library or talking about Harry Potter, you can find her at a local coffee shop or the nearest Big Read event.