By Riley Manning
TUPELO – The mayor’s task force on education announced Tuesday this year’s book for the annual Tupelo Reads event will be “Forrest Gump” by Winston Groom.
Task force chairwoman Lisa Reed said the book was selected because of its historical backdrop and the myriad activities it offered, such as a “Run Forrest Run” 5k race.
Perhaps more significantly, it will be the first time the task force has booked the actual author to join in the festivities.
“We always have a great lineup of speakers, but [Groom] is probably the most famous we’ve ever had,” Reed said. “He’s also very knowledgeable about Mississippi history, and we thought that would be a good angle.”
Groom’s other titles include “Shiloh” and “Vicksburg.”
In addition to the novel’s and subsequent movie’s mass familiarity, Reed said the historical backdrop of Forrest Gump’s story would play a big part in the experience.
“The arc of history is very present in the novel, from relations between the U.S. and China to the Vietnam War,” she said. “It’s one of the older books we’ve chosen, and has some salty language, but to have everyone in the community reading and talking about it can only be a good thing.”
The festivities will begin Sept. 30, when Groom will speak at the Lee County Library’s Lunching with Books program, and culminate on Oct. 3 in Fairpark. Before the “Run Forrest Run” 5k, an art show of work by local students inspired by the book will be on display at the GumTree Museum of Art. After the run, attendees are welcome to stay for a showing of the movie adaptation of “Forrest Gump” in Fairpark, and dine on food from the city’s three food trucks.
“As a city, we want to show that we value reading, and we want it to be fun,” Reed said.