New Hampshire’s BIG READ invites us to explore how we share stories, understand our world, and envision a better future for New Hampshire. Through free local book discussions, lectures, poetry, and programs that blend the humanities, arts, and science, generations of Granite Staters will gather to read, think, and understand our shared story of New Hampshire.
New Hampshire Humanities (NHH) is one of 62 organizations nationwide selected to receive a 2023-2024 National Endowment for the Arts Big Read grant of $20,000.
An initiative of the NEA, in partnership with Arts Midwest, a Big Read broadens understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the power of a shared reading experience. In partnership with the Center for the Book at the NH State Library, NH State Council for the Arts, New Hampshire Public Radio, NH Department of Corrections-Family Connections Center, 50 local libraries and community organizations, the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center, Gibson’s Bookstore, and scholars, NHH’s Big Read will bring more than 5,000 Granite Staters together to discuss a selected book, The Bear by New Hampshire author Andrew Krivak.
The Big Read will take place from September through November 2023 and will feature book discussions, public programs, and a public Q&A with Andrew Krivak, all free and open to the public. Events will take place in all ten counties of the state.
With financial support from NHH, 50 public libraries will partner with a community organization to host both a community event and discussion of The Bear. NHH will provide all participants with a complimentary copy of the book, purchased through Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord.
In addition to supporting these local events, NHH will host four public programs and a culminating event. The Big Read will kick off with a public event on September 6 at Great North Aleworks in Manchester and feature a dramatic reading from the novel. On September 8, NHH will host Dr. Brent Ryan Bellamy for a virtual discussion exploring what a recent slate of postapocalyptic books might reveal about our contemporary anxieties. On September 23, NHH will partner with the McAuliffe-Shepard Discovery Center for a planetarium show in which participants will experience how the daughter used the stars to track the passage of time in the novel. On November 3, poet Midge Goldberg will examine how poets have told stories about the night sky throughout human history.
Working with the NH Department of Corrections through our Connections program, NHH will use The Bear to encourage incarcerated parents to tell their own stories and reflect on the role parents hold in sharing knowledge of the past with their children.
The Big Read will culminate with public discussion and book signing with author Andrew Krivak at the Bank of New Hampshire Stage in Concord on October 14.
In an Edenic future, a girl and her father live close to the land in the shadow of a lone mountain. They possess a few remnants of civilization: some books, a pane of glass, a set of flint and steel, a comb. The father teaches the girl how to fish and hunt, the secrets of the seasons and the stars. He is preparing her for an adulthood in harmony with nature, for they are the last of humankind. But when the girl finds herself alone in an unknown landscape, it is a bear that will lead her back home through a vast wilderness that offers the greatest lessons of all, if she can only learn to listen.
A cautionary tale of human fragility, of love and loss, The Bear is a stunning tribute to the beauty of nature’s dominion and explores powerful themes about the importance of intergenerational storytelling, our complicated relationship with the environment, and how to prepare for an unknown future.
― Andrew Krivak, The BearListen to an interview with Andrew Krivak on the National Endowment for the Arts Podcast for the Big Read.
Andrew Krivak is the author of The Bear, a Mountain Book Competition winner, Massachusetts Book Award winner, and NEA Big Read selection; and the Dardan Trilogy, which includes The Sojourn, a National Book Award finalist and winner of both the Chautauqua Prize and Dayton Literary Peace Prize; The Signal Flame, a Chautauqua Prize finalist; and Like the Appearance of Horses. He is also the author of the poetry collection Ghosts of the Monadnock Wolves and the memoir A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life, as well as the editor of The Letters of William Carlos Williams to Edgar Irving Williams, 1902–1912, which received the Louis L. Martz Prize. Krivak lives with his wife and three children in Somerville, Massachusetts, and Jaffrey, New Hampshire, in the shadow of Mount Monadnock, which inspired much of the landscape in The Bear.
Watch for our upcoming announcements of Big Read events hosted by New Hampshire Humanities and our partners. Not on our email list? To receive updates about upcoming events, sign up here!
Thank you to our Big Read Lead Partners and Participating Libraries:
Big Read Marketing and Grant Acknowledgment Resources
Big Read Partner Library Evaluation
Big Read Participant Evaluation
NEA Big Read is a program of National Endowment for the Arts in Partnership with Arts Midwest.
New Hampshire Humanities programs are made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this these programs do not necessarily represent those of the NEH or New Hampshire Humanities.