2018 Book Selection Ron Carlson’s Five Skies

When it comes to the “best of” in the local library scene, not much is a bigger deal on a yearly basis than the Pioneer Library System’s participation in The Big Read.

The Big Read is a celebration of literature started by the National Endowment for the Arts as a way for communities to get together for activities centered around classic literature.

“This program was created to bring people together for the joy of reading a good book,” said Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Since its inception, PLS has participated each year, either as an official nationally funded Big Read or strictly through local funding from organizations like the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, Norman Arts Council, Pioneer Library System Foundation and local Friends of the Library groups.

This year marks the 12th edition of The Big Read in PLS, and the featured book selected by PLS representatives is Five Skies by Ron Carlson.

Carlson is a longtime and award-winning short story writer who wrote Five Skies after a break of about 30 years from novel writing. It tells the story of three men from different backgrounds brought together for a summer construction project in the Rocky Mountains. It builds a story from how their collective pasts intertwine.

“The opportunities in a novel are so different from those in a story,” Carlson said in a review. “The world is larger and requires patience in every way. The writing isn’t full of sudden surprises, but discoveries that evolve credibly over time.”

Each of the 11 libraries in the system will participate in various activities related to the book during February and March, including scholar-led book discussions, plans for a visit to Oklahoma by the author in March and other programs.

A unique element to this year’s Big Read is a photography contest. Entries will be accepted throughout February for the PLS Big Read Photo Contest.

Themes for the concert are based on the book and include good work, nature, friendship/relationship, mercy, guilt or building/rebuilding. Check with hometown libraries for full rules and information on submissions.

The NEA has funded five Big Read projects for PLS: The Grapes of Wrath in 2007; Bless Me, Ultima in 2008; The Maltese Falcon in 2010, Old School in 2013 and A Wizard of Earthsea in 2015. PLS Big Reads produced solely with state and local funding include were To Kill a Mockingbird in 2009; The Things They Carried in 2011, The Joy Luck Club in 2012, True Grit in 2014, Fahrenheit 451 in 2016, Being Mortal in 2017, and this year’s project.

Sponsors for this year’s activities are the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation, Norman Arts Council, Pioneer Library System Foundation and the Pioneer Library System.

For more information, go online to pioneerlibrarysystem.org/bigread.