“Stuff your eyes with wonder.”

The title comes from Ray Bradbury, according to the blog connected to ‘The Big Read,’ a website from the American National Endowment for the Arts. If it’s not familiar you may find some very useful (as well as delightful) materials there.

A number of novels ( e.g., by Steinbeck, Erdrich, Hurston, Fitzgerald and others)  and some poetry, have been given very rich treatment with introductions to the works, a Teacher’s Guide that elaborates some approaches to the text, and a Media addition.  In the case, for example, of Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, excellent readings of passages from the novel are offered, with comments by Bradbury and others.  Emily Dickinson’s poetry is accompanied by readings of the poems by Mary Jo Salter, a contemporary poet, and commentary by John Barr, a man of many interests. And there are many more.

Not the least of the site’s attractions is its blog which contains conversations with authors like Tobias Wolff; reports of community book events; quizzes on writers and their works, as well as odd facts about writers like the following:

Victor Hugo: Everyone knows that writing a novel takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline. To enforce this, some writers have employed unusual strategies. When Victor Hugo was writing The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, he essentially put himself on house arrest by having his valet hide all his clothes. For months, he wore only a full-length knitted shawl, which he had bought especially for the occasion. The strategy worked, and Hugo finished the novel in about six months. “
It’s worth your while to check out the works that are included as well as the blog; you may find some further ways to celebrate the phenomenon of books.

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