What is the NEA Big Read?

The NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery through a shared experience in which the community reads the same book at the same time.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Online Book Discussion

Book cover - The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
November 30, 6:30 p.m.
Join us live to discuss one of the finest books about the Vietnam War. Far from a combat story of pride and glory, Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried is a compassionate tale of the American soldier, brimming with raw honesty and thoughtful reflection. This award-winning work is a brutal, sometimes funny, often profound narrative about the human heart—how it fares under pressure and what it can endure. The first 15 to register will receive a free paperback copy of the book.
Register to participate

Hometown Heroes

Proud to honor some of the dedicated first responders and military servicemen and women in our community.

Profile photo of Alex Antongiorgi
Alex Antongiorgi
United States Marine Corps
“9.5 years service. 2 deployments. Afghanistan combat veteran.”
Submitted by Jenna
Profile photo of Gary W. Smith
Gary W. Smith
Marine/Lance Corporal
Submitted by Teressa Fraser
Profile photo of Craig F. Cloversettle
Craig F. Cloversettle
USAF MP
Submitted by Jen Cloversettle
Profile photo of TSgt. Glen DeLozier
TSgt. Glen DeLozier
USAF/TSgt
“Pictured is my husband, stationed here at MacDill AFB with our 5 year old son, Nicolas. He has a total of 11 years of service thus far.”
Submitted by Dioni Gonzalez-DeLozier
Profile photo of Richard M. Meer
Richard M. Meer
Navy
“During World War II, 76 years ago this June, at the age of 18 my father was the coxswain of an Assault Landing Craft that landed at Normandy. He was always very proud of the service he provided to our country.”
Submitted by Richard D. Meer
Profile photo of Abbi J. Wood
Abbi J. Wood
USAF/SSgt
“SSgt Wood spent 4 years 5 months before being honorably discharged from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. She deployed one time in support of Operation Enduring Freedom while on active duty.”
Submitted by (Ret) MSgt Jerry A. Wood Jr.
Profile photo of Jerry A. Wood Jr.
Retired Master Sergeant Jerry A. Wood
USAF/MSgt
“MSgt Wood served various locations while on active duty for 20 years before he decided to retire from Mountain Home AFB in Idaho. He deployed at a minimum of 12 times defending our country. He is a hero to his family!”
Submitted by Abbi Wood

Is there a hero in your life we should feature? Submit a Hometown Heroes photo.

Veterans Exhibition

In a Time of X by Bob Terri

In partnership with the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library, the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts has created an exhibition of photographs by veterans to showcase their unique perspective on returning to civilian life after many years in the Armed Forces. For some of these veterans, this photographic project and exhibit will serve as a healing process in part for severe PTSD and combat-related injuries.

View the exhibit online

About the Book

The Things They Carried (1990) is considered one of the finest books about the Vietnam War. Far from a combat story of pride and glory, it is a compassionate tale of the American soldier, brimming with raw honesty and thoughtful reflection. This award-winning work is a brutal, sometimes funny, often profound narrative about the human heart—how it fares under pressure and what it can endure.

The Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education features a timeline of the Vietnam War and a great interview with author Tim O’Brien. Use it to enhance your reading and discussion.

Read the guide

The Things They Carried has a mature theme best suited for older teens and adults.

Read Alikes

About the Author

Related Reading

Vietnam War History

Vietnam War Era

Books for Military Children