The Big Read Blog (Archive)

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

What do these three tremendous actors have in common? They’ve all read excerpts of Big Read books, featured below. To hear the entire audio guides to these respective novels ---The Grapes of Wrath, The Death of Ivan Ilyich , and The Call of the Wild ---head over to The Big Read website . Start May...
Washington, DC "First Dusting" by David Hoffman via Flickr You've finished all of the selections in the Big Read library---now what? Well, if you're like me, then you'll search out other titles by the authors that you've come to know after weeks of reading, discussing, and celebrating. Here are...
Washington, DC "Leo Tolstoy in Yasnaya Polyana ", 1908, by Sergey Mikhaylovich Prokudin-Gorsky. This was the first color photo portrait in Russia. At the age of 82, Leo Tolstoy famously succumbed to pneumonia on November 20, 1910 in an abandoned train station. His strange death was recently put on...
Washington, DC "Recording Memories" by Erik Walker via Flickr This week we're beginning with endings! Can you guess which Big Read novels gave us these five last lines? 1. "I'm skimming across the surface of my own history, moving fast, riding the melt beneath the blades, doing loops and spins, and...
Washington, DC Louisville Free Public Library Foundation's Their Eyes Were Watching God kickoff. (Photo courtesy Louisville Free Public Library Foundation) Hi there--we've missed you! But don't worry, we've spent the summer plotting and planning interesting things to bring to you by way of The Big...
Washington, DC Portrait of Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy. Oil on canvas. 124 × 88 cm. The State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow. Dr. James Billington, the Librarian of Congress for more than two decades, is also a leading authority on Russian history and culture. So naturally, we asked him to chime in when we...
Washington, DC Cabinet card of Count Leo Tolstoy by Sass, Moscow. Photo from Library of Congress Collection , George Kennan Papers. Working on some research for the blog this morning, I was surprised to discover that Leo Tolstoy's late-in-life spirituality greatly influenced both Mahatma Gandhi and...
March 21, 2008 Washington, DC Lately, politicians and pundits agree that America seems reluctant to talk about racism in any but the most sensationalistic terms. They're not wrong, either. Quietly though, one city and town at a time, a nationwide program called The Big Read is starting to help...
Translation is both the most parasitic form of writing and the purest. It?s writing without storytelling, without plot, or character, or any of the other gifts that only a few lucky fictioneers have it in them to deploy. No, translation is writing at its most elemental linguistic level, with the...
August 28, 2007 Washington, DC Did you see that piece in the New York Times last week about JT Leroy, the abused-kid-turned-truck-stop-hooker who transformed himself into an acclaimed writer of literary fiction -- until he turned out to be a female freelance writer who'd transformed herself into...