'The Big Read' 1

11th Edition to Focus on Being Mortal

For the past decade, the Pioneer Library System has made its PLS Big Read and NEA Big Read a springtime tradition. The 11th edition of the event is bringing literature into the 11 communities served by the library system.

This year marks the first time the book has been a nonfiction selection and also the first time it’s come from outside the NEA’s list. Being Mortal, by Atul Gawande, focuses on a difficult topic–the end of life. The author, a practicing surgeon, looks into the way medicine can not only improve life but also the process of its ending.

The PLS Big Read is presented this year in a collaboration between PLS and the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine.

Two separate programs throughout the PLS service area during the PLS Big Read will focus on the book.

Each PLS Hometown library will host a scholar-moderated community book discussion of Being Mortal. Discussions include: Shawnee, 7 p.m. March 2; Norman Central, 2 p.m. March 5; McLoud, 6 p.m. March 7; Newcastle, 6 p.m. March 7; Noble, 1 p.m. March 9; Purcell, 6 p.m. March 9; Southwest Oklahoma City, 6:30 p.m. March 9; Tecumseh, 6:30 p.m. March 9; Norman West, 7 p.m. March 13; Moore, 5:30 p.m. March 20.

Also, each library will host a screening for the FRONTLINE film Being Mortal, followed by a panel discussion of local authorities. The 60-minute film was produced by the WGBH Educational Foundation in Boston. Dates for this presentation are: Norman Central, 6 p.m. March 9; McLoud, 6 p.m. March 21; Moore, 6 p.m. March 21; Newcastle, 6 p.m. March 21; Shawnee, 7 p.m. March 21; Tecumseh, 6:30 p.m. March 21; Blanchard, 5:30 p.m. March 23; Noble, 5:30 p.m. March 23; Norman West, 2 p.m. March 25; Purcell, 2 p.m. March 26; Southwest Oklahoma City, 6:30 p.m. March 29.

PLS has an experienced group of scholars who will share duties facilitating the programs during the PLS Big Read:

  • Carolyn Ann Barry Cole, Crouch-Mathis Professor of English at Oklahoma Baptist University from 1987 to 2012
  • Bob French, an attorney with Monnet, Hayes, Bullis, Thompson & Edwards PLLC in Oklahoma City and musician
  • Katheleen R. Guzman, MAPCO/Williams Presidential Professor in the OU College of Law
  • Rebecca Huskey, associate professor of classics and letters at OU
  • Annette H. Prince, clinical assistant professor, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, OU Health Sciences Center
  • Kathryn Ramsay, who serves as the local history and genealogy resources librarian for the Pioneer Library System
  • Robert C. Salinas, associate professor in the OU College of Medicine
  • Cynthia Thomas, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and assistant professor in the OU Department of Family and Preventive Medicine

In addition to previously featuring fiction works, Pioneer’s Big Read events also have tended to feature older classics, like True Grit, To Kill a Mockingbird and The Grapes of Wrath. But this year’s title was published less than three years ago, in late 2014, through Henry Holt and Company Inc., with an international edition released in 2015 through Picador.

Being Mortal was the 2015 Indies Choice Book Award-winner in the Adult Non-Fiction category. The author also is the recipient of the Lewis Thomas Prize for Writing about Science and two national magazine awards.

Sponsors for this year’s PLS Big Read are the Pioneer Library System Foundation and the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation.

Find out more by going online to pioneerlibrarysystem.org/bigread.