Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Big Read Is a Big Deal

Lucy Lee (right) addressed a room full of readers this afternoon at the Higher Education Center in Roanoke^

The Big Read is underway and not much is going to get in the way of this tidal wave, if the first meeting is any indication of its energy. While the Roanoke Valley went semi-ga-ga a couple of weeks ago over the announcement of a marathon on the Blue Ridge Parkway, my guess is the Read--which will exercise a different part of your physiology--will outrun the marathon by a full lap, when it comes to numbers of people participating.

Organizer Lucy Lee, a voracious reader, called a couple of weeks ago and asked if Valley Business FRONT (my magazine) would support the Read and I told her of course we would, not realizing that Lucy was going to make this thing big. And big it will be. The premise is that as many people as we can gather together will read Earnest Gaines' 1993 A Lesson Before Dying, which has become something of a late century classic. It deals with "justice" in the 1930s and has strong racial overtones (not unlike the To Kill a Mockingbird).

The Big Read (a national franchise) will make a Big Deal out of this book with hundreds reading and discussing it, movies, plays being presented about it. An art show concerning it. Children and adults will be involved. People who don't normally read a lot will love the camaraderie of involvement.

We met this evening to discuss ideas for events sorrounding Read and even this early in the process, the ideas were running wild. This dealie is going to give us a new understanding of what it means to read and I'm for that. As one who couldn't read until after I'd been writing professionally for several years (a touch of dyslexia, I'm told; I could also dive before I could swim), I fully appreciate a good book and find them as enjoyable to share as good cooking (mine).

Go to the Web site here and see what it's about. Get involved. This is networking, socializing, reading, discussing and getting to know your neighbors with a book at the middle.

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