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.

The Big Read Activities*

September 29: The Center of Campus and Community Connections and The Big Read Present:  Community Action Fair 
11 a.m.-1 p.m. in Heritage Hall (HH) 123 A/B

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.

October 5: The Big Read Presents: The Human Library
11 a.m. -1 p.m. in Toledo 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.

October 6: Student Activities and The Big Read Present: A Lunch & Learn
12:30-1:30 p.m. in Findlay Education Center 111

Get lunch* and learn about race and identity in South Africa from Annette Swanson, Manager, International Services.

*Free lunch is for students only.

October 7: Student Activities and The Big Read Present: A Lunch & Learn
11:30 a.m. -12:30 p.m. in CH 158

Get lunch* and learn about race and identity in South Africa from Annette Swanson, Manager, International Services.

*Free lunch is for students only.

October 27: Student Activities and The Big Read Present: Victoria Alexander: “A Little Black Book on Confronting Anti-Blackness”
9:30-10:30 a.m. in Findlay Education Center 111
12:30-1:30 p.m. in Veteran’s Hall (VE) 201

Come listen to speaker and activist, Victoria Alexander discuss confronting anti-blackness on college campuses.  For more information on Victoria, visit: Victoria Alexander | Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Keynote Speaker (

November 18: The Big Read: Documentary & Discussion
6 p.m. in CFPA Theatre
Streaming all day in Toledo and Findlay Campus Libraries.

Bring a friend and relax as you watch a film that will address themes from The Big Read book.

December 8: Owens Talks The Big Read:  De-Brief & Discussion
1 -2 p.m. in Toledo Library Classroom #112

Let’s come together and discuss The Big Read!  Your thoughts; what heightened or impacted your awareness of important issues; what, if anything, took you out of your comfort zone and  any biases that were confronted.

*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 

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

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

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