INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Sierra Nevada College recently received funding for The Big Read a program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, which encourages communities to collectively read the same book, and then participate in programs around the book's theme.The SNC grant was received through the Library Services and Technology Act administered by the Nevada State Library and Archives. The funding comes from the federal agency, Institute for Museum and Library Services.SNC has done a remarkable job in securing the funding and has developed a calendar of incredible events around the book that will be open to the communities of Incline Village, North Lake Tahoe and Truckee.SNC chose a Vietnam-era based book “The Things They Carried” and I encourage high school students and adults alike to read it! Oddly enough my daughter read it in her high school English class then suggested I read it, which I did. The book's title is appropriately named as it explores what characters take with them (both figuratively and literally) onto the battlefield as they experience the trauma of war and the strengths and frailties of human existence in the midst of chaos. The Things They Carried has become required reading for many English classes, in both High School and College level. But its popularity is wide, and if you have not read it then I highly recommend that you find The Big Read as the perfect reason to make it the next book you and/or your high school age students pick up.
But don't take just my word for it — here is what the New York Times Critics had to say:“Only a handful of novels and short stories have managed to clarify, in any lasting way, the meaning of the war in Vietnam for America and for the soldiers who served there. With ‘The Things They Carried,' Tim O'Brien adds his second title to the short list of essential fiction about Vietnam. As he did in his novel ‘Going After Cacciato'' (1978), which won a National Book Award, he captures the war's pulsating rhythms and nerve-racking dangers. But he goes much further. 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, he places ‘The Things They Carried' high up on the list of best fiction about any war.”And then there are the high school and college age critics:• Jeremy Preacher wrote: “That's one of my favorite books ever — I read it in high school. O'Brien is excellent overall but that's by far his best!”• College student Sarah wrote: “This was my first Tim O'Brien. Whatever the appropriate adjective for whatever this is ‘spectacular' is tonally off. ‘Awesome', even in the non-colloquial sense, doesn't do justice to the masterfully-handled small moments.”The Big Read is a wonderful opportunity for our region to read together and to remember that war is not about unmanned drones that we can simply push out of our minds. War is a human reality that we are all living with today in one form or another.By understanding what our fellow Americans have experienced we can better prepare to welcome them home and to search for ways for peaceful solutions and avoid war at every possible turn. Read “The Things They Carried” with your high school students, talk about the book together as a family or as a class and mark your calendars for these community events!