Big Read launches, more events to come

Medical science, Shakespeare and survival skills have more in common than it seems. These topics are all featured in events created by the NEA Big Read Lakeshore. This past week was the beginning of a month-long series of public events designed to revitalize the role of reading in the Holland-area community. The selected novel for this year, “Station Eleven,” is a post-apocalyptic story that includes themes of survival and culture. The kickoff event, attended by students and community members alike, featured three TED-style talks from knowledgeable, local speakers on these themes. “We appropriate literature best in community, which is why the Big Read is a blessing to our community,” said Mark Hiskes, a teacher from Holland Christian, during his speech.

The Big Read is a Hope College program and is in its fifth year, having expanded geographically and thematically over the years. It now partners with organizations from Saugatuck and Grand Haven, working to connect with readers of all ages. In tandem with Holland Museum and Herrick District Library, the Big Read had several events this past week that were both fun and educational for young readers. An exhibit geared toward linking with the themes of “Station Eleven” opened at the Kruizenga Art Museum, and several Hope students and faculty attended the opening discussion. Pigeon Creek Shakespeare Company also performed selections from multiple Shakespeare plays which were mentioned in “Station Eleven,” bringing the novel to life for attendees.

Activities are just getting started though, and the Big Read has something to offer for students with a variety of interests. For religion majors,the lecture with Dr. David Dark on Nov. 8 at Western Theological Seminary is sure to be thought-provoking. The Holland Area Arts Council will be hosting a graphic novel workshop on Nov. 10, guided by Hope’s own Dr. Beth Trembley. Students who are interested in pursuing medical careers are welcome at the Holland Hospital book discussion on Nov. 14. The best parts of these events is that they are free of charge and it’s not necessary to have read the book in order to participate. The highlight of the month will be a visit from the author of “Station Eleven,” Emily St. John Mandel.

On Nov. 13 at 11 a.m., there will be a question and-answer segment for students to attend. Mandel will also give a keynote address at 7 p.m. that same day at the Jack H. Miller Center. For further details on the events mentioned above, as well as others, visit

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