Art Works Blog

NEA staff answers, “which Big Read novel is your favorite and why?”

You may have a lot more in common with some of our NEA staff members than you think. For a little Friday fun, we did an informal poll of our colleagues and had them share with us, which Big Read novel is your favorite and why? Check out what they had to say and tell us, are you on the same page as them?

“My favorite Big Read book has to be A Farewell to Arms. A book (Big Read or not) has never elicited an emotional reaction from me quite like A Farewell to Arms did. It was one of the few, possibly the only, time where I finished the book and my own life didn’t even seem real. It’s been a while since I’ve read it and I’m not sure I have it in me to reread it again anytime soon!” – Meg McGillivray

The Great Gatsby. When I was in high school I had to read it. Then I read it a couple of times after. I always related to Jay. F. Scott Fitzgerald is an intriguing writer.” – Jared McDermott

To Kill a Mockingbird. It was the first book I read as a child that really touched me. I still cry when I read the part about Atticus sitting in front of the jail all night to protect his client Tom Robinson.” – Kristen Hagan

“Tim O’Brien’s, The Things They Carried. As a veteran writer, this book showed me how ugliness and beauty can overlap through literature.” – Mohamed Sheriff

“I absolutely love To Kill a Mockingbird. Although this book shines light on darker points within society, I love how Harper Lee brings hope, optimism, and empathy to the table – for all people, races, disabilities, and differences today.” – Kristen Duquette

“Rudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima is one of my favorite books in the Big Read library— I love how he weaves folklore into Antonio’s story. The book is filled with this beautiful, almost mesmerizing, language.” – Elizabeth Auclair    

“Oh, definitely The Great Gatsby. I like the description of the billowing white curtains. That left quite an impression on me.” – Daniel Beattie

“I adore Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston! It’s such beautiful story, affirming feminine identity and liberation. I read this book during my freshman year in college, and although it was written years before I was born, I do remember recognizing my own sense of self mirrored within the book. I can’t overemphasize how important authors like Zora Neale Hurston are to my development as a young woman, because the complexity of female identity and experience is rarely communicated through mainstream media.” – Takenya LaViscount

“My favorite Big Read title is Ursula K. Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea, which I don’t think I would have stumbled onto without the Big Read. After reading it, I looked up the rest of the trilogy and read them back to back. A Wizard of Earthsea is all about language, and how we call ourselves and our world into being by naming things, which is exactly what I try to do as a poet.” – Paulette Beete

“Fitzgerald has always been one of my favorite authors and The Great Gatsby, one of my favorite novels. The book effortlessly lures the reader into Gatsby’s world of love and loss, greed and betrayal, and excess and poverty all amidst the backdrop of Fitzgerald’s Jazz Age New York. Each time I finish reading again, I cannot help but empathize with the heartache and despair that sweeps over so many characters.  Still after 91 years, I find that we are Nick Carraway trying to learn the lessons of life from the once great but now fallen Jay Gatsby.” – Mike Griffin

Their Eyes Were Watching God. It was a powerful, supremely lyrical book that offered insights into a world I could never have known and a person I would so love to meet.” – Victoria Hutter 

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