The Wichita Public Library has launched its third annual Big Read, which invites everyone in the area to read the same book, and then discuss and share their thoughts on it.
This year's book is "Their Eyes Were Watching God" by Harlem Renaissance writer Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston's lyrically written, evocative story follows a strong woman, granddaughter of a slave, in rural Florida through three marriages, passions, crises, and one heck of a hurricane.
If you haven't read "Their Eyes Were Watching God," it's worth a read; if it's been a while since you've read it, it's worth revisiting.
But there's another reason the Big Read is a worthwhile endeavor: to give Wichitans something in common.
The Big Read is more than an opportunity to read a great book — though it is that — it's a way to come together as a community through one story, shared, with varied interpretations and reactions. Literature is the starting point, not the end point.
Dozens of Big Read events are planned, including lectures, book discussions, presentations on history, and children's programs. Most are at libraries; some are at area museums and other venues. A list of events can be found at: www.bigreadwichita.org/Events.
The Big read is led by the Wichita Public Library, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest.
This year's companion books for younger readers are: "Roy Makes a Car" by Mary Lyons and illustrated by Terry Widener, based on a story collected by Zora Neale Hurston (up to second grade); "Lies and Other Tales," collected by Zora Neale Hurston, illustrated by Christopher Myers (third through fifth grades); and "The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural," by Patricia McKissack and illustrated by Brian Pinkney (sixth through eighth grades).
'Cowboy's Lament' presents memoirs of song composer
Kansas cowboy Frank Maynard made his lasting mark not on the cattle trail but in the music books, writing "The Cowboy's Lament," the song that became known as "The Streets of Laredo." But his career as a cowboy led him to some interesting places and into acquaintance with some legendary figures of the Old West.
In " Cowboy's Lament" (Texas Tech University Press, 216 pages, $29.95) , cowboy scholar and Emporia State University professor Jim Hoy collects Maynard's memoirs of life on the range and the trail, his cowboy poems and his journalistic writings, interspersed with archival photos.
Hoy will appear at the Wichita-Sedgwick County Historical Museum at 7 p.m. on Nov. 3.