Troy University, for the first time, has received a grant to host The Big Read, a program whose main goal is encouraging the value of reading for pleasure and learning.
Troy is the only city in Alabama that received the grant this year.
This program is part of the National Endowment for the Arts and focuses on exposing citizens to valuable works of literature. The NEA has around 20 books to choose from, and the committee selected “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury before the Common Reading Initiative book was chosen.
The decision to make the Common Reader the same as The Big Read was so both would be able to pool resources and have more activities.
“We chose ‘Fahrenheit 451’ because it is so appropriate,” said Writing Center Coordinator Elaine Bassett. “It was written over 60 years ago, but it is all about the oppression of ideas and the superficial nature that people take on when they don’t think.”
Kickoff for The Big Read will take place at the Johnson Center for the Arts downtown on Tuesday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. Speakers including Hal Fulmer, associate provost and dean of undergraduate and first-year studies, and Priya Menon, assistant professor of English, will be present to talk about The Big Read.
The kickoff will explain to locals what The Big Read is, why “Fahrenheit 451” was chosen and what events will be hosted this fall. Fire-related refreshments will be served.
A film festival will start on Tuesday, Sept. 23, and will continue to take place every following Tuesday at 7 p.m. in Patterson Hall Room 101.
The series focuses on book-to-movie adaptations, and the first movie shown will be “Fahrenheit 451.” The other films that are included are “Capote,” “Girl Rising,” “Dead Poets Society,” “The Name of the Rose,” “The Book Thief,” “The Princess Bride,” “Educating Rita,” and “Wonder Boys.”
“They’re all about that freedom of thought, allowing the mind to expand,” Bassett said. “Some of them like ‘The Princess Bride’ are fun ones, but even underneath that there are some serious themes that are going through.”
Each film will have a different discussion leader who will talk about the film and its relation to “Fahrenheit 451.” Discussion groups will be held across campus and in the community. Other events The Big Read will host are a used-book sale in Eldridge Hall on Oct. 9-10 and a 5K race on Oct. 18.
A variety of books have been donated by professors and locals for the sale. The book sale is cash only, with paperbacks being sold for 50 cents and hardbacks for $1.
Students are encouraged to talk to Bassett if they have any ideas involving the book or if they want to help with any of the activities.
Bassett’s advice for students wanting to participate in The Big Read is to read, discuss and be engaged with the different events, such as the film festival.
“Read anything,” Bassett said. “Just read, find something you’re interested in. Eventually, you’ll come across something that fits your attention and you want to know more about it.”
The Big Read will last until mid-November. Depending on how well the program does, Troy may apply again for the grant. To stay up to date with The Big Read events, follow them on Twitter @troybigread and check out the Facebook page “Troy Big Read.”