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Read Across Texas: The Veteran Experience

2017 January 23
by Kyla Hunt

Dear Texas public library colleagues:

A few days ago, the Texas Center for the Book of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission launched Read Across Texas: The Veteran Experience, the first-ever statewide reading program to be sponsored by TSLAC. The program is designed to encourage communities across Texas to read and hold community discussions of one or more of four suggested titles addressing the veteran experience. We selected this topic because we could think of no other subject of more universal urgency or importance to our communities today. The four books selected represent a range of genres and styles—novel, short stories, non-fiction, and graphic novel—chosen to offer options for how best to approach the topic. The titles are:

  • You Know When the Men Are Gone by Siobhan Fallon
  • Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
  • What It Is Like to Go to War by Karl Marlantes
  • The White Donkey: Terminal Lance by Maximilian Uriarte

I am writing to urge you to participate in Read Across Texas and to engage your community in the important and necessary conversation that is represented by the project. To encourage you, the Friends of Libraries and Archives of Texas has arranged for the first approximately 50 participating Texas libraries to obtain 10 or 15 free copies of one of the four titles. The application process is quick and easy and the books will be shipped directly to you at no cost. All we ask is that you agree to submit a short report on your activities following your program. About 15 sets of books remain to be requested, so I urge you to apply soon.

If you prefer not to request books, or if the free books run out, I urge you to register that you are having a discussion in your community and let us know that you are participating. You can visit to learn more about this project, to apply to receive the books, review discussion guides and other resources available, and to see a map of libraries that have already signed up.

Finally, for those of you in the Austin area, I invite you to join us on Thursday, February 23 at 7:00 p.m. for An Evening with Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. This promises to be a very exciting evening featuring a conversation with the author in a panel moderated by Jennifer Stayton of KUT FM. This event will be at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives and Library Building directly east of the Texas Capitol at 1201 Brazos Street in Austin.

I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity to convene your community discussion around the issues of our veterans returning home from war. We look forward to hearing more about your programs.

Thank you,


Mark Smith, Director and Librarian | Texas State Library and Archives Commission
512 463.5460 | fax 512 463-5436 | ||


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