The Santa Barbara Public Library System will kick off its one book-one community reading program, The Big Read, at the Central Library on October 3 at 5:00 p.m. during the 1st Thursday downtown Santa Barbara art walk. The book selected is The Things They Carried, the highly acclaimed and widely read novel by Tim O’Brien. The Big Read will run for five weeks and will promote discussion of issues surrounding veterans of all American wars and present a variety of cultural events that relate to this theme. The Central Library is located at 40 E. Anapamu St. in Santa Barbara.
The kickoff event on October 3 will feature readings from the book, short speeches by local dignitaries, and a special one-day only exhibit in front of the Central Library from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. All branches of the Santa Barbara Public Library System have multiple copies of the book and e-Book to loan.
The Things They Carried is a collection of related stories about American soldiers serving in Vietnam, and their experiences before, during and after their life-changing tours of duty. First published in 1990, it was a New York Times Book of the Century, and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award. O’Brien will be honored in November as the winner of the 2013 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. As one reviewer wrote, “By moving beyond the horror of the fighting to examine with sensitivity and insight the nature of courage and fear, by questioning the role that imagination plays in helping to form our memories and our own versions of truth, [O’Brien] places The Things They Carried high up on the list of best fiction about any war.”
An Evening With Tim O’Brien, a free public talk by the author, will be held on Wednesday, October 23 at the Marjorie Luke Theatre at 7:00 p.m. Participating area high school teachers and Santa Barbara City College Library received free copies of the book for their students, and reader’s guides and teacher’s guides to facilitate classroom discussion. In addition, the Central Library will host two free documentary films related to veterans’ issues, Where Soldiers Come From and The Invisible War. Other events include Speaking of Stories performances, panel discussions at the library branches featuring local veterans and professors, and a writing contest for veterans and high school students. Community partner Ratatat Theatre Group will premier its new play, Happy Few, based on Henry V and stories of American veterans, with free performances at the Central Library and the Veterans Memorial Hall in Solvang. The Santa Barbara Museum of Art is also a participating partner and will develop a display case of objects from local veterans representing and explaining the things they carried, as well as implementing a special Dia de los Muertos event with an altar created by local veterans.
The Santa Barbara Public Library System is one of just 77 community organizations nationwide to win an award to host The Big Read this year. This is the 12th year that Santa Barbara Public Library System has offered a one book-one community program. The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. The Santa Barbara Public Library System’s The Big Read program is also generously sponsored by the Friends of the Santa Barbara Public Library, the Diana & Simon Raab Foundation, the Santa Barbara Foundation, the Allergan Foundation, the Claeyssens Veterans Museum, the Marjorie Luke Theatre’s Dreier Family Rent Subsidy Fund, University of California Santa Barbara, the Santa Barbara County Arts Commission, and the Santa Barbara Independent.
All Library programs are free and open to the public. For more information and list of The Big Read events, please visit the Santa Barbara Public Library System’s website SBPLibrary.org.