“Great Gatsby” topic of Big Read event

Students looking to immerse themselves in classic American literature may want to check out this year’s Big Read.

With around 30 titles to choose from, “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald is the selection for the 2012 year, Reference Librarian Rachel Butler said.

She said OCCC has participated in the program now for about four years.

“The overall goal is to get town and student communities reading the same book and discussing it,” Butler said. “It’s one way to share something and think about it.”


OCCC’s Big Read event will take place at 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 in the Student Union as part of Humanities Week . No registration is required. 

Butler said guest speaker and former OCCC English Professor Richard Rouillard will be speaking to students as if he were a character associated with the novel.

“He won’t be acting as an actual character from the book but rather a friend looking back and telling about the bigger picture of what was going on in American society then,” Butler said. “This book is set in the 1920s but a lot of stuff going on then is somewhat similar to what’s going on in the news right now.”Established in 2004, the program was created by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as a way to boost the critical decline in literacy reading.

According to NEA’s website, more than 1,000 Big Read programs have been funded via grants and local funding.

Since the NEA’s list includes both a mixture of classic and modern literature, Butler said, each Big Read is a new experience. She said the library tries to offer something totally different each year.

To help discuss last year’s Big Read selection, “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines, an Oklahoman man wrongly convicted and locked in prison for 20 years, was brought in to speak.

Butler said overall the program is a good way to branch out and read things you might not have read on your own.

“Sometimes you find something cool that you otherwise wouldn’t have known,” she said. “In listening and talking about [the literature], you find they have themes that mean something to you, even as a modern person now.”

Business major Chelsea Rodriguez says she feels the Big Read would be a good way to interact with others about literature.

“Sometimes you read something yourself and it has its own personal meaning to you,” Rodriguez said. “By discussing literature in a setting like this, you get to see and discuss people’s different point of views.”

To learn more about the national Big Read program, visit www.neabigread.org, or visit www.occc.edu/library/bigread for current information on OCCC’s Big Read and past events.

You may also reach Butler at the Keith Leftwich Memorial Libabary  at 405-682-1611, ext. 7564.

To contact Erin Peden, email staffwriter1@occc.edu.

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