The Big Read

The Big Read

Big Read Activities | Faculty Resource | Community Partners | BIG Community Engagement

Owens Community College Campus Read

The goal of Owens Community College’s Big Read (Campus Read) is to bring awareness of different perspectives through books and accompanying activities on campus and in our surrounding communities.

The 2021-22 Big Read is How We Fight for Our Lives by Saeed Jones.

Using his own experiences as the vehicle, Jones’s How We Fight for Our Lives tells the story of how we create a place of ourselves in this world.

Saeed Jones
Saeed Jones

Saaed Jones
Message from the author, Saeed Jones

Author Saeed Jones’s Visit

Thursday, April 28, 2022

Saeed Jones is an essential author as well as a powerful voice in the world of literary activism, and his writing often takes on questions of identity. Formerly a major contributor at Buzzfeed, he shaped his platform into a tool for social awareness with his no-holds-barred personality.

Saeed Jones was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Lewisville, Texas. His debut collection, Prelude to Bruise, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and was awarded the 2015 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry. The collection also received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which described the book as, “a fever dream, something akin to magic.” His poems engage themes of intimacy, race and power, and often incorporate elements of mythology. In a 2014 interview for PEN America, Jones stated, “I’m obsessed with manhood as a brutal and artful performance. My mind always finds its way back to the crossroad where sex, race, and power collide. Journeys, transformation as well as dashed attempts to transform, fascinate me as well.”

In 2019, Saeed released his highly anticipated memoir, How We Fight for Our Lives. A review from NPR writes, “Jones’s voice and sensibility are so distinct that he turns one of the oldest of literary genres inside out and upside down.” In this memoir, Saeed has developed a one-of-a-kind style that is as beautiful as it is powerful, and he has cemented himself as an essential writer of our time.

Saeed has received a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from Cave Canem and Queer/Art/Mentorship. He lives in Columbus, Ohio, a city he advocates for with ferocity.

Book Sale:  February 8 & 9 ONLY!

Toledo Campus Library: 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Findlay Campus Library: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Founders Hall Main Office (1118): 8:30 a.m.-12 p.m. and 1:30-4:30 p.m.

Come and get your very own copy of How We Fight for Our Lives!  Cost is $10, which is about $7 cheaper than if you purchase anywhere else!  Cash and checks only.

The Big Read Activities*

January 31-April 1: The Big Read: Social Justice Art Exhibit
Terhune Art Gallery and Findlay-area Campus Library

Explore Robert Vanitvelt, an emerging visual artist based in NW Ohio with a passion for social justice, fauna & unexpected mediums, work. He is a keen observer of social injustice and takes on the topic in active ways that permeate his art, from the subject down to the materials used to create it. Vanitvelt’s work has been shown in several states including a show at Tiffin University and at the Registry Bistro in Toledo. His work can also be seen on the television show “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”  For more information, click here.>>>

February 3: The Big Read: Social Justice Art Exhibit Opening Reception
5-7 p.m. Terhune Art Gallery and via Zoom Link: TBA

February 15: The Big Read: Confronting Biases
12-1 p.m. CFPA Theatre and via Zoom Link: TBA

Join the campus and community as we hear from Andrew Erickson, Philosophy Professor and Steve Ross, Psychology Professor, on ways to become aware of biases and how to curb them.

February 24: Documentary Film Showing, TBA
6 p.m. in CFPA Theatre or watch online using Link: TBA

Discussion of the film will follow or join the discussion online.  Link: TBA.  To vote for the documentary, click here.>>>

March 10: The Big Read Presents: The Human Library
11 a.m.-1 p.m. in Toledo Campus Library

The Human Library features people as books!  This is an international organization founded to help address people’s prejudices by inviting them to conversations with people they might not have met outside of this experience.

April 13: The Center of Campus and Community Connections and The Big Read Present:  Community Action Fair 
11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Location: TBA

Come browse, chat and connect with community agencies that provide services such as food; shelter; health and wellness; recreation and outdoor activities and other resources vital to making our community strong.

April 28: The Big Read Presents: Saeed Jones
10 a.m. in CFPA Theatre and via Zoom Link: TBA
1:30 p.m. in EC 111

Join “How We Fight for Our Lives” author, Saeed Jones, as he discusses his novel and how we all “fight for our lives.”  Saeed will also be signing his book at this event.

*Events may be adjusted due to COVID-19.

“Let’s Talk BIG with Jane & Jen”

Tune into the Owens Community College Radio on Thursdays at 7 a.m., 11 a.m., 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. to listen to Jen Hazel and Jane Berger discuss this year’s The Big Read.

Visit:   Then, click the “Listen” button.

To listen to old episodes, please click on the links below.

Episode One: Introducing The Big Read–September 2, 2021

Episode Two: Diving into the Book–September 9, 2021

Episode Three: Chatting with Krista Kiessling–September 16, 2021 

Episode Four: Community Action Fair with Krista Kiessling–September 23, 2021

Episode Five: The Human Library with Chris Smith–October 1, 2021

Episode Six: Human Library Wrap Up–October 7, 2021

Episode Seven: Diving Deeper into the Book–October 14, 2021

Episode Eight: Interview w/ Victoria Alexander–October 21, 2021

Episode Nine: Interview w/ Andrew Erickson–October 28, 2021

Episode Ten: Discussing Saeed’s Church Visit w/ Granny–November 4, 2021

Episode Eleven: Discussion w/ Dr. Downey–November 12, 2021

Episode Twelve: Discussing p. 49–November 18, 2021

Eposode 13: Saeed Speaking w/ His Uncle–December 2, 2021

Eposode 14: Discussing Feedback–December 9, 2021

Faculty Resource

How We Fight…Teaching Resource

Community Partners

The Big Read community partners are Findlay-Hancock County Public Library, Toledo Lucas County Public Library, Way Public Library and Wood County District Public Library.

Way Public Library Book Discussion: Tuesday, March 22 at 7 p.m. via Zoom Link:  TBA

Toledo Lucas County Public Library Black Lives Matter Book Group Discussion: Tuesday, April 26 at 5:30 pm.  All attendees must register.

BIG Community Engagement

 The BIG READing Shelf  

This project was developed by the Owens Community College Big Read Committee with the goal of connecting families with books in our community.  The BIG READing Shelf revitalizes bookshelves, fills them with books and donates them for adults and children to read and enjoy while they are staying at a shelter, a daycare or just in a waiting room.  By utilizing donated bookshelves and books, this venture guarantees a smile to all – those who donate items and those who are sure to find what will become their favorite book on one of these shelves!

To donate a bookshelf, books or interested in receiving a shelf, please contact Jen Hazel at or Jane Berger at

Big Blanket Tie 12/15 Delivery

On December 15, Jen Hazel, Jane Berger and Shayna Krasula, Honors Program Student, delivered 30 blankets to students at an after-school program at Reynolds Elementary School.

The BIG Blanket Tie

Love that cozy feeling when wrapped in a soft blanket?  Get the “feel good” sense when you know you’ve helped someone?  By combining these two elements, it’s win-win for the maker, giver and recipient!

Working together, the Center of Campus and Community Connections and The Big Read is organizing the opportunity for the Owens campus community to make fleece blankets that will be donated to area agencies.

To donate fleece or help make a blanket, please contact Jen Hazel at or Jane Berger at

More Information

Jen Hazel
Professor, English

Jane Berger
Director, Library Services