Jefferson-Madison Regional Library Credit: Jefferson-Madison Regional Library

The Jefferson-Madison Regional Library invites all readers to participate in a month-long community event that will be held during March 2016. JMRL is partnering with the National Endowment for the Arts in the library’s tenth annual Big Read.

The Big Read concept is simple: to have as many people as possible in our community reading and discussing the same book at the same time. This year, that book is “The Heart is a Lonely Hunter” by Carson McCullers. All JMRL branches will be hosting free community programs and discussions about the book and its themes, such as isolation and deaf culture. The schedule of events for the 2016 Big Read can be found at

The Big Read will kick off this year on the front steps of Central Library on Saturday, February 27, at 2 p.m. with the Big Read proclamation being read by local officials. The Kickoff After Party will take place at 3 p.m. at Champion Brewery, where guests can sample the limited-edition Lonely Hunter Pale Ale and pick up a free copy of the book (while supplies last).

What is the book about? A motley crew of individuals who confess their secrets to a deaf mute in McCullers’s dramatic story of poverty and racism in a 1930s Georgia mill town.

The National Endowment for the Arts launched The Big Read after a survey in 2004 showed a decline in the reading of literature. Less than half of American adults read literature, according to the report. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with Arts Midwest. The Big Read is also supported by the Art and Jane Hess Fund of the Library Endowment.