The announcement was made today on UConn’s homepage: our UConn Reads book this year is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. It’s a great choice and the Steering Committee’s decision reflects a strong consensus reached after much friendly discussion (for more on that discussion, see the announcement article on UConn Today).
So what does it mean to claim The Great Gatsby as “our book?” It means, for me, a commitment to thinking about the book deeply and engaging it in multiple dimensions, especially as I work with the Steering Committee and the larger University community to plan events. These have already taken on an almost bewildering range, from a children’s coloring book for Homecoming to an exhibition of 1920s prints at the Benton Museum to an exhibition of contemporary art dealing with class and money at the Contemporary Art Galleries to a jazz concert to ideas for academic panels about issues of gender, racism and anti-Semitism, class, and regionalism in the book.
The Great Gatsby is a book that can sustain that level of engagement – I’m pretty sure of that. Although I may feel, by the end of the semester, that I’ve done enough with it, I doubt that I’ll feel tired of it.
Strangely enough, I’m already wondering when I’ll read it again. I don’t mean now, because I’ll almost certainly be delving into the book on a daily basis over the next weeks and months. I mean when I’ll really sit down and engage with it again, as a whole and new experience. Maybe when one of my kids has to read it for high school English class. Or maybe when I’m retired and reminiscing about that great semester that we did The Great Gatsby for UConn Reads. That’s the thing about a classic – you never know when it’s going to come into your life again.