Saint Catharine College Clock Tower photo

The Big Read is Big News in Central Kentucky

St. Catharine College embraces the idea that it is The College for central Kentucky. And recently, nothing has brought that regional status more into focus than the Big Read. That is the project orchestrated by the St. Catharine’s Reading Program:  rt l³: read to learn. read to lead. read to live . that will envelope the tri-county area beginning in late February.

The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to restore reading to the center of American culture. The NEA presents The Big Read in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage reading for pleasure and enlightenment within communities.  

“I wrote the grant without any idea if we would be selected,” said rt Director Evelyn Silliman. “We received over $5,000 which has allowed us to buy 620 books that we will use in the three counties [Washington, Nelson and Marion].”

From a list of 27 books, St. Catharine chose The Maltese Falcon for the local Big Read. And, while adults will be reading that work, 70 copies of The Malted Falcon , the children’s version of the classic, will be distributed to local elementary school students.

A total of 16 Big Read events in the tri-county will be held over a one month period beginning February 28th. The events will include a contest to design a new cover for the old classic, many discussion groups, a “Meet the Mystery Writers Day” along with distribution of the free books. For a list of all events in the three counties visit

St. Catharine College will launch the Big Read on Sunday, February 28th with a visit from Lynn Hightower, noted mystery writer and long-time Kentucky resident. That will take place in Pettus Auditorium from 6:00 to 7:30. Hightower is a graduate of the University of Kentucky where she studied creative writing with Wendell Berry. Her books have been included in the New York Times List of Notable Books, the London Times Bestseller List, and the W.H.. Smith Fresh Talent Awards. She has received the Shamus Award, and been nominated for the Kentucky Literary Award, the Kentucky Librarians First Choice Award, and the Mary Higgins Clark Award.

“We are really excited about all of the events we have planned,” added Silliman. “It will be a month of fun and conversation about this classic detective novel.  Everyone in the tri-county area is invited to join in The Big Read.”

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