The Big Read 2021

In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick

Community Ensembles

In 1819, 20 crew members set sail on a ship called the Essex to hunt whales. They left the popular whaling island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, and headed for the South Pacific in what was to be a routine voyage. Instead, they found themselves part of one of the most horrifying maritime disasters in American history when an 85-foot angry sperm whale rammed and sunk their vessel. For 90 days, the crew drifted in small boats with no sense of where they were in the vast sea. Facing starvation, disease, brutal weather, and a near loss of hope, they succumbed to drastic measures as they fought to stay alive.

Nathaniel Philbrick’s In the Heart of the Sea tells the true story of the crew members’ fight for survival, and the circumstances surrounding the disaster that inspired Herman Melville’s novel, Moby-Dick, 30 years later. Art Center East works in partnership to bring the Fishtrap Big Read to Union County.

The Mountain Valleys Reading Council is organizing a companion Big Read for students. They have purchased copies of two picture books that will be shared with students in grade K-middle school by the district library staff. They also have provided books to the Cook Memorial Library. They are working on arranging a Zoom chat with the author of one of the picture books.

2020 Union County Partners

Union County Events

Click the title to be directed to the video link. 


Director of Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute and Endowed Chair of Marine Mammal Research
Watch it Live Online: Wednesday, February 17 at 1:00pm
Watch it Here Anytime Beginning February 18


Watch it Live Online: Thursday, February 25 at 1:00pm
Watch it Here Anytime Beginning February 26


Watch it Live Online: Wednesday, March 3 at 1:00pm
Watch it Here Anytime Beginning March 4


Watch it Live Online: Thursday, March 4 at 1:00pm
Watch it Here Anytime Beginning March 5


Watch it Live Online: Wednesday, March 10 at 1:00pm
Watch it Here Anytime Beginning March 11

About The Big Read

The Big Read broadens our understanding of the world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book. Every winter, Fishtrap and its regional parters celebrate one great work of literature by providing events, discussions, and books to Wallowa and Union County schools, libraries, and community members. The program is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts and is supported locally by neighborhood businesses and individual donations.