NEA Big Read

Together We Read

Read The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien together with your community. Get a copy from your local public library March 5 – April 17.

Book cover - The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

What is the NEA Big Read?

The NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation and discovery through a shared experience in which the community reads the same book at the same time.

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

Get Involved

Read The Things They Carried

Book cover - The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien

Borrow a copy from your local library, download a digital copy, purchase a copy and have it signed at Tim O’Brien’s visit, or attend the Hometown Heroes Community Event where complimentary copies of The Things They Carried – which has a mature theme best suited for older teens and adults – will be available as supplies last.

Get a Library Copy Get a Digital Copy

Attend the Kickoff Event

March 7, 10:00 a.m.
Veterans Memorial Park
Celebrate the start of NEA Big Read at the Hometown Heroes Community Fair. Meet local organizations that support our community, bring the kids to touch a truck, and spend time visiting the different areas of Veterans Memorial Park. This date honors National Vietnam War Veterans Day and coincides with the 30-year anniversary of the release of The Things They Carried.


  • Veterans Council
  • James Haley VA - Voluntary Services
  • Tampa Buffalo Soldiers
  • Team Red White & Blue
  • International Institute of Orthotics & Prosthetics
  • Support the Troops
  • Honor Flight West Central FL
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Wounded Warriors
  • Action Zone
  • Carry the Load
  • Hillsborough County Fire Rescue
  • The Vietnam Veterans of America
  • National Anthem
  • Presentation of Flag
  • American Red Cross
  • Boy Scouts of America Troop 61
  • Veterans Alternative

Meet the Author

Headshot of Tim O'Brien
April 17, 6:00 p.m.
Jimmie B. Keel Regional Library
Join National Book Award-winning author Tim O’Brien as he discusses The Things They Carried and his experiences in the Vietnam War. Talk to be followed by question and answer and book signing.

Hometown Heroes

Proud to honor some of the dedicated first responders and military servicemen and women in our community.

Profile photo of Alex Antongiorgi
Alex Antongiorgi
United States Marine Corps
“9.5 years service. 2 deployments. Afghanistan combat veteran.”
Submitted by Jenna
Profile photo of Gary W. Smith
Gary W. Smith
Marine/Lance Corporal
Submitted by Teressa Fraser
Profile photo of Craig F. Cloversettle
Craig F. Cloversettle
Submitted by Jen Cloversettle
Profile photo of TSgt. Glen DeLozier
TSgt. Glen DeLozier
“Pictured is my husband, stationed here at MacDill AFB with our 5 year old son, Nicolas. He has a total of 11 years of service thus far.”
Submitted by Dioni Gonzalez-DeLozier
Profile photo of Richard M. Meer
Richard M. Meer
“During World War II, 76 years ago this June, at the age of 18 my father was the coxswain of an Assault Landing Craft that landed at Normandy. He was always very proud of the service he provided to our country.”
Submitted by Richard D. Meer
Profile photo of Abbi J. Wood
Abbi J. Wood
“SSgt Wood spent 4 years 5 months before being honorably discharged from Mountain Home AFB, Idaho. She deployed one time in support of Operation Enduring Freedom while on active duty.”
Submitted by (Ret) MSgt Jerry A. Wood Jr.
Profile photo of Jerry A. Wood Jr.
Retired Master Sergeant Jerry A. Wood
“MSgt Wood served various locations while on active duty for 20 years before he decided to retire from Mountain Home AFB in Idaho. He deployed at a minimum of 12 times defending our country. He is a hero to his family!”
Submitted by Abbi Wood

Is there a hero in your life we should feature? Submit a Hometown Heroes photo.

Other Events

Book Discussions

March 12 - April 14
Come together with fellow readers in your area and share your thoughts on The Things They Carried. Find a discussion

Veterans Photo Exhibit

March 15 - April 17
An exhibition of photographs by veterans showcasing their unique perspective on returning to civilian life. Details

Veterans Photo Exhibit Art Reception

March 16, 6:00 p.m.
A special art reception for the Veterans Photo Exhibit. Details

Introductory Veteran's Writing Workshop

March 19, 1:30 p.m.
Participants will gain a better understanding of such story elements such as structure, conflict, and point of view. Details

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place: American Songs From The Vietnam Era

March 29, 3:00 p.m.
A tribute to the music that helped soldiers and veterans connect to each other and to life back home, and to cope with the complexities of the war they had been sent to fight. Details

About the Book

The Things They Carried (1990) is considered one of the finest books about the Vietnam War. Far from a combat story of pride and glory, it is a compassionate tale of the American soldier, brimming with raw honesty and thoughtful reflection. This award-winning work is a brutal, sometimes funny, often profound narrative about the human heart—how it fares under pressure and what it can endure.

The Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education features a timeline of the Vietnam War and a great interview with author Tim O’Brien. Use it to enhance your reading and discussion.

Read the Guide

Read Alikes

About the Author

Related Reading

Vietnam War History

Vietnam War Era

Books for Military Children