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Read the book. Join the conversation. It's that simple! Big Read with us this fall, Sept. 15 - Oct. 27, 2018.
For our inaugural Big Read, we're reading The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri.

About NEA Big Read

NEA Big Read is a time for everyone in our community to read the same book and have conversations about the book and its themes. It's a new way to bring us all together to talk about families, immigrants, finding yourself in a new place NEA logoand uncovering your own identity.

NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to broaden our understanding of our world, our communities and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. We're proud to be one of 79 organizations to receive an NEA Big Read grant this year to support this initiative. The NEA presents NEA Big Read in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Send your questions, thoughts and feedback to bigread@stdl.org.

Little Read

Your whole family can Big Read with us thanks to our Little Read books that address similar themes of finding yourself in a new place and uncovering your own identity.

  • I’m New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien – a picture book recommended for ages 5-8
  • Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan – a chapter book recommended for ages 8-12
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon – a young adult novel recommended for teens

Get your kids talking with these Little Read Conversation Starters. 

How to Participate

Talk About It

Join the conversation. Register for any of our Big Read Discussions to talk about The Namesake with others in the community.

9
SEP
Young(ish) Adult Book Club - When Dimple Met Rishi
1-2 p.m.
Wallys Coffeehouse
17
SEP
BeTween the Lines Book Club - 9-12 years
4-5 p.m.
Craft Room
18
SEP
Beyond the Book - The Namesake
10-11 a.m.
Rasmussen South
20
SEP
Beyond the Book - The Namesake
7:30-8:30 p.m.
Rasmussen South
25
SEP
Beyond the Book - The Namesake
1:30-2:30 p.m.
Rasmussen South
3
OCT
Big Read Book Discussion - The Namesake
2-3 p.m.
Wally's Coffeehouse
4
OCT
Big Read Book Discussion - The Namesake
10-11 a.m.
Country Style Donuts
9
OCT
Big Read Book Discussion - The Namesake
7-8 p.m.
Workshop
15
OCT
Big Read Book Discussion - The Namesake
10-11 a.m.
Schaumburg Community Recreation Center
16
OCT
Big Read Book Discussion - The Namesake
4-5 p.m.
Half Price Books
17
OCT
Big Read Book Discussion - The Namesake
7-8 p.m.
Hanover Park Branch
23
OCT
Big Read Book Discussion - The Namesake
7-8 p.m.
Hoffman Estates Branch

Attend a Program

Extend your Big Read experience with these related programs.

5
SEP
Diverse Reads Kick-off
10-11 a.m.
Workshop
15
SEP
NEA Big Read Kickoff
2-4 p.m.
The Commons
17
SEP
The Enchanting Rituals of Indian Weddings
7-8:30 p.m.
Rasmussen Room
18
SEP
Author Visit: Anne Sibley O'Brien - 5-8 years
5:30-6:30 p.m.
Workshop
19
SEP
Untidy Toddlers: I'm New Here - 1-3 years
10-10:45 a.m.
Craft Room
19
SEP
Creative Writing with Author Gita Varadarajan - 7-12 years
2-3 p.m.
Program Room
19
SEP
Author Visit: Gita Varadarajan - 7-12 years
3:30-4:30 p.m.
Program Room
20
SEP
Mandala Art
7-8 p.m.
Teen Program Room
1
OCT
Teen Tasters
6-7 p.m.
Teen Program Room
3
OCT
DIY Designs: Kantha Embroidery - 9-12 years
3:30-4:30 p.m.
Craft Room
6
OCT
How Modern India & the Diaspora Shaped The Namesake
2-3 p.m.
Rasmussen North
11
OCT
Henna
6-7 p.m.
Teen Program Room
22
OCT
The Immigrant Experience
7-8:30 p.m.
Workshop
23
OCT
Book Explorers: I'm New Here - 5-8 years
4-5 p.m.
Craft Room
25
OCT
Author Visit: Sandhya Menon
7-8 p.m.
Rasmussen Room

Visit the Exhibit

From Sep. 15 – Oct. 15, we're hosting a special exhibit from Changing Worlds titled “The Immigrant Experience through the Eyes of Teens.” Through painted images, photographs, collage, poetry and prose, teens share what it was like to leave their home countries and adjust to their new lives in Chicago. Stop by the Central Library during our regular hours to check out the exhibit.

DIY Discussions

Host your own Big Read discussion for family, friends, neighbors or coworkers using our DIY Discussion Guide. The guide includes discussion questions and suggestions to spark rich, engaging conversation about The Namesake.

Write Your Own Story

Writing a short story is no easy task. But that’s just what we’re asking you to do in our Flash Fiction Contest. To tie in with our Big Read, this year’s theme is: finding yourself in a new situation. Learn more and enter the contest.

Diverse Read

You can Diverse Read while you Big Read! Our new Diverse Reads initiative encourages you to read outside of your comfort zone by reading books from different perspectives about a wide range topics. Find out how to get started with Diverse Reads.

Read Alikes

Did you enjoy reading The Namesake? Try some of these similar titles.

Book River Items

A Good Indian Wife (2008)

by Anne Cherian

Anesthesiologist Neel is sure he can resist his family’s pleas that he marry a “good” Indian girl. With a girlfriend and a career back in San Francisco, the last thing Neel needs is an arranged marriage. But that’s precisely what he gets.

Arranged Marriage (1996)

by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Arranged Marriage, Divakaruni's first collection of stories, spent five weeks on the San Francisco Chronicle bestseller list. For the young girls and women brought to life in these stories, the possibility of change, of starting anew, is both as terrifying and filled with promise as the ocean that separates them from their homes in India.

Secret Daughter (2010)

by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

This title interweaves the stories of a baby girl in India, the American doctor who adopted her, and the Indian mother who gave her up in favor of a son, as two families – one in India, the other in the United States – are changed by the child that connects them.

And the Mountains Echoed (2013)

by Khaled Hosseini

Khaled Hosseini writes about the bonds that define us and shape our lives, the ways in which we help our loved ones in need, how the choices we make resonate through history and how we are often surprised by the people closest to us.

Atlas of Unknowns (2009)

by Tania James

Linno is a gifted artist, despite a childhood accident that has left her badly maimed. Her sister Anju is one of Kerala’s most promising students. Both girls dream of coming to the United States, but Anju wins a scholarship to a school in New York. She seizes it, even though it means lying and betraying her sister. When her lie is discovered, Anju disappears. Back in Kerala, Linno is undergoing a transformation of her own. When she learns of Anju’s disappearance, Linno schemes to procure a visa to America to look for her sister and save them both.