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The Big Read: 'Something More Pleasant'

Couldn’t we use a few more pleasant things to talk about? Join us for a series of events featuring Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant by Roz Chast. This graphic memoir by The New Yorker’s most famous cartoonist tells the story of Chast’s parents’ final years through cartoons, family photos, found documents, and narrative prose.

As Athens’ National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Big Read book selection, events in this series will help us dance, draw, and talk about all that is more or less pleasant! The events—which will touch upon aging, parenting, caretaking and the poetry of all of it—begin in April (poetry month) and run through May (Older Americans Month and Mothers’ Day).

The NEA Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest. This program is also supported by numerous Athens institutions and organizations including the UGA Mary Frances Early College of Education, Congregation Children of Israel, Athica Gallery, UGA’s Willson Center, Torrance Festival of Ideas, Athens-Clarke County Library, and Rutgers University.

Join us as we celebrate our fourth Big Read event in Athens!

To receive a copy of the book, contact book clubs at the Athens Clarke County Library, the Athens Community Council on Aging or the Georgia Museum of Art.

Upcoming Events

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Previous Big Read events in Athens

Athens has hosted NEA Big Read events for several years. In 2015, the city celebrated poet Robinson Jeffers; in 2016 it was writer Edgar Allan Poe; 2018, Chinese novelist, Yu Hua; 2019, poet Claudia Rankine; and now 2021 graphic memoirist, Roz Chast.

2019: Citizen: An American LyricThis series of events includes numerous events that shift expectations of micro-aggression toward validation through deep attention to the past, present, and possible futures at UGA and in our larger Athens community.
2018: The Year of the DawgTo Live is a novel written by Chinese novelist Yu Hua in 1993. It describes the struggles endured by the son of a wealthy landowner, Fugui. The personal story also intertwined with the historical events caused by the Chinese Revolution which fundamentally altered the nature of Chinese society.
2016: Poe-ToberAthens celebrated the works of Edgar Allan Poe during October 2016. Events kicked off with a celebration at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia and wrapped up with an lecture on All Soul’s Day, Nov. 1, at the Georgia Museum of Art.
2015: A Focus on Robinson Jeffers

Robinson Jeffers lived much of his life in the Big Sur area of the California coast. He wrote about the rough beauty of the natural world and is considered by some to be an early leader of the environmental movement.

This slate of events, which kicked off in April 2015 to conincide with National Poetry Month, intertwined the work of Jeffers with the culture and landscape of the South

About NEA Big Read

NEA Big Read logo

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

El proyecto NEA Big Read es una iniciativa del National Endowment for the Arts (el Fondo Nacional para las Artes de Estados Unidos) en cooperación con Arts Midwest.

About the Organizer

Melisa “Misha” Cahnmann-Taylor is a professor of Language and Literacy Education at the University of Georgia’s Mary Frances Early College of Education. She is the author of five books that address the intersection of language education and the literary, visual, and performing arts, including one book of poems. Her newest book, “Enlivening Instruction with Drama and Improv ,” will be published in spring 2021.

Her research is focused on English language learners and their educators engaged in the art of acquiring a second or additional language. Supported by grants and prizes from the Georgia Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, Resplandor, Fulbright, the Beckman award for professors who inspire, and the Willson Center, her work narrates the heartache, headache, and joy of teaching and learning language. She currently serves as a 2020-2022 U.S. Fulbright Scholar Ambassador.

Support Our Programs

Big Read Athens events focus on community celebrations of great literature! Events attract a wide diversity of readers and are free or low cost, but similar events are made possible thanks to donations. To donate to this or future events, visit LLE’s support fund page .

Funds are for the NEA Big Read or Misha’s Creative Literacy programs.


Our Partners

Athens Cultural Affairs Commission Logo Georgia Museum of Art Logo Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at UGA Logo nimbl New Movement and Performance Space Logo Athens Community Council on Aging Logo Athens Regional Library System Logo
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