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Griz Read: 2014

Information about the Griz Read, UM's first-year reading experience.

The Book

Image used with permission of the author

The Things They Carried is a collection of short stories first published in 1990. In 2005 it was named by the New York Times as one of the twenty-two best books of the last quarter century.  It received the Chicago Tribune Heartland Award in fiction and was a finalist for both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The French edition of The Things They Carried received one of France’s highest literary awards, the Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger.  The title story received the National Magazine Award and was selected by John Updike for inclusion in The Best American Short Stories of the Century.

Find Books by Tim O'Brien

Select Bibliography

O'Brien, Tim. Going After Cacciato. New York, NY: Delacorte Press, 1978. Print.

---. If I Die in a Combat Zone: Box Me Up and Ship Me Home. New York, NY: Delacorte Press, 1973. Print.

---. In the Lake of the Woods. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1994. Print.

---. July, July. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 2002. Print.

---. "The Magic Show." Writers on Writing. Ed. Robert Pack and Jay Parini. Hanover, NH: Middlebury College P, 1991. 175-183. Print.

---. Northern Lights. New York, NY: Delacorte Press, 1975. Print.

---. The Nuclear Age. New York, NY: Knopf, 1985. Print.

---. The Things they Carried: A Work of Fiction. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin, 1990. Print.

---. Tomcat in Love. New York, NY: Broadway Books, 1998. Print.

---. "The Whole Story." Novel History: Historians and Novelists Confront America’s Past (and Each Other). Ed. Mark C. Carnes. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2001. 344-345. Print.

O’Brien, Tim, and Jonathan Amore. ""Every Question Leads to the Next": An Interview with Tim O'Brien." The Carolina Quarterly 58.2 (2007): 31-39. Print.

O’Brien, Tim, and Patrick Hicks. "A Conversation with Tim O'Brien." Indiana Review 27.2 (2005): 85-95. Print.

O’Brien, Tim, and Martin Naparsteck. "An Interview." Contemporary Literature 32.1 (1991): 1-11. Print.

Drumroll Please...

We are pleased to announce the winners of the 2014 First-Year Reading Essay Contest  

We are pleased to announce the winners in both categories of the First-year Reading Experience Essay Contest. This year, students were invited to submit in two categories:  Scholarly Analytical and Personal Reflection. The many strong submissions in each category evidence students' insightful engagement with the first-year book. 


Nat Smith’s essay "The Ambiguity of Truth in The Things They Carried” is the winning essay in the Scholarly Analytical Essay category.


Libby Barsness's essay "A Reaction to Tim O’Brien’s Views on Death" is the winning essay in the Personal Reflection Essay category.

What is the First-Year Reading Experience?

The purpose is to provide new students a common connection through a thought-provoking book.  Every year, a committee of faculty, staff and students at the University of Montana select a book from nominations submitted by the entire campus community. The program is not mandatory but it is highly encouraged to help prepare students for their academic life on campus. 

Some classes may include it as a textbook and others may simply refer to it, but students will always be told where it is required when they receive the syllabus and will have ample time for any mandatory reading.  There is also a writing contest with a cash prize for the best student essays about the book.  This year, the author of the book will come to campus to present a free lecture about the book and conduct an exclusive forum for students to ask questions.  The book is available to purchase online from the bookstore or when students arrive on campus. 

We believe that books forge powerful bonds and we are excited to begin the discussions this year!

Partnership with The Big Read Missoula!

The university is excited to partner with the Missoula Public Library and greater Missoula community in The Big Read! Many events, programs and exhibits related to the book will be taking place during Fall Semester and we encourage you to get involved!

First-Year Writing Contest

As part of the events and activities surrounding the First-Year Reading Experience, we invite first-year students to submit 750-1250 word essays in one or both of the following categories: (1) the analytical essay or (2) the personal reflection essay. A cash prize of $250 will be awarded to the writer of the best, most compelling essay in each category; the essays themselves (with the authors’ permission) will be posted to the First-Year Reading Experience webpage. Students are limited to one entry per category. 

The DEADLINE for entries is Monday, November 10!

Details are provided in the document below.

The Author

Photo used with permission of the author

UM is delighted to welcome the author to campus.  Plan to attend his lecture on Tuesday, October 28 at 8pm in the Dennison Theatre.

A Special Session for First-Year Students will be on October 28 at 3:10 in the UC Theater.

Tim O’Brien received the National Book Award in Fiction in 1979 for his novel Going After CacciatoIn the Lake of the Woods, published in 1994, was chosen by Time magazine as the best novel of that year. The book also received the James Fenimore Cooper Prize from the Society of American Historians and was selected as one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times

In 2010, O’Brien received the Katherine Anne Porter Award, presented by the American Academy of Arts and Letters for a distinguished lifetime body of work. In November 2012, O’Brien received the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award from the Dayton Literary Peace Prize Foundation.  In 2013, O’Brien received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Pritzker Military Library. 

O’Brien’s short fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic, Esquire, Playboy, Harper’s, and numerous editions of The O. Henry Prize Stories and The Best American Short Stories.  His novels have sold more than three and a half million copies and have been translated into more than 20 languages. 

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