The Big Read Blog (Archive)

WHY READ?

April 23, 2009
Washington, DC

This Saturday is the official ?"home opener" for DC?s Big Read of Carson McCuller?s The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter. (Visit The Big Read Web site to take a look at what the Humanities Council of Washington, DC has lined up for this year's lit lovefest.) On hand at the festivities will be hometown mystery writer George Pelecanos who?s doing the honors as this year's honorary chair for the District?s Read. Pelecanos gamely offered the following response to "Why read?"

"On the shelf behind my desk, there are perhaps a dozen books that were given to me, over forty years ago, by a woman named Estelle Petrulakis. 'Mrs. Pet,' as we called her, was a public school teacher who worked in some of the more impoverished sections of Washington, D.C. She was also a Sunday-school teacher with my mother, Ruby Pelecanos, at our church, St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral. Mrs. Pet understood the value in reading, especially for kids who wanted to go "someplace else" and leave the sameness of their day-to-day. She recognized that I had an active imagination. She also felt that by turning me on to fiction my imagination would be further ignited and I would acquire a lifetime love of not just stories but of language itself. I'm convinced that I am a professional writer and a voracious reader to this day because of Mrs. Pet and other key teachers who made a difference in my life. I read to go to that someplace else."

-- George Pelecanos