Art Works Blog

All I Want For the Holidays: An NEA Big Read Quiz

"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world.” -- Neil Gaiman

Need a break from holiday shopping? Sink into a comfy chair, grab your pumpkin-spice latte, and see if you can guess which gift below is inspired by a new prose title in our NEA Big Read library. If a visit to your local bookstore is on your agenda, you might also get a few ideas by checking out our full list of NEA Big Read titles.


1. 1968 Betty Crocker Cookbook

2. Oxcart

3. World Wrestling Federation t-shirt

4. Seismograph

5. Binoculars and a kid’s bike

6. 200-year-old huge, hairy handbag

7. Flatbed truck

8. Portable GPS

9. Sci-fi comic book

10. Fountain pen and leather-bound notebook


  1. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng. Ng’s mom owns this cookbook, and so does Marilyn, a character in her novel, who acquired it as a hand-me-down from her mother. Ng uses several quotes in her novel that she took directly from the real cookbook.
  2. To Live by Yu Hua. Fugui, the main character of Hua’s novel, is first seen plowing a field with an ox of the same name. The ox is a symbol of his family’s wealth.
  3. The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang. As she describes in her memoir, Kalia’s family in America enjoyed gathering around the TV to watch wrestling matches.
  4. Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra. Zambra’s novel is set in Chile, which has a history of earthquakes. The novel’s opening scene describes the aftermath of one from a young boy’s point of view.
  1. The Round House by Louise Erdrich. Joe, the protagonist of Erdrich’s novel, rides his bike around the reservation with his friends and spies on their local priest.
  1. Pretty Monsters by Kelly Link. “The Faery Handbag” is a short story in Link’s collection. Open the bag one way and you’ll find yourself in a boat on a river heading to a small village. Open it another way and you’ll face the wrath of the bag’s fierce canine guardian.
  1. Five Skies by Ron Carlson. This is the vehicle of choice for Carlson’s three male characters working a construction site in Idaho.
  1. This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff. In this childhood memoir, Wolff describes a cross-country road trip with his mom to relocate in the Pacific Northwest.
  1. Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel. “Station 11” is the name of the sci-fi comic book that Kirsten, one of the main characters in Mandel’s novel, carries around with her as she traverses the post-apocalyptic landscape.
  1. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. These are the implements used by Reverend John Ames in Robinson’s novel, who is writing a letter to his young son in Iowa in 1956.

Don't forget there's still time to apply to host an NEA Big Read in your community in 2017-18! Visit for details. 


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