Western University of Health Sciences is joining the city of Pomona and other sponsors to once again bring the joy of books to the public. This year, the Pomona Big Read pays homage to detective fiction, highlighting Dashiell Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon.”

The kick-off event for the fifth annual Pomona Big Read will take place at 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 7 at WesternU’s Health Education Center, 701 E. Second St., Pomona, Calif. and will feature a Classic Noir panel moderated by “Los Angeles Noir” author Denise Hamilton. Raymond Chandler biographer Judith Freeman, Ross Macdonald biographer Tom Nolan, and Julie Rivett, granddaughter of “The Maltese Falcon” author Dashiell Hammett, will join in this tribute to noir literature.

This panel, which is open to the public, serves as the kick-off for a diverse, month-long series of events celebrating the Big Read. Book talks, book giveaways, a Contemporary Noir fiction celebration, a mystery dinner, film showings, art exhibits, crafts events, author talks, a chalk art festival, and art programs are among the events scheduled throughout Pomona from Oct. 7 to Nov. 12.

Events will be held throughout Pomona and neighboring communities in honor of “The Maltese Falcon,” a classic of noir fiction. Dashiell Hammett is a pioneer of modern detective fiction, and has served as a model for many noir authors who have followed in his path. This 1930 classic introduces Sam Spade, a shopworn private eye with his own code of ethics.

The goal of the Big Read is to restore reading to the center of American culture and highlight the importance of literature in daily life. The Big Read aims to directly address the decline of reading for pleasure by providing citizens with the opportunity to read and discuss a single book within their community.

The city of Pomona, the Cultural Arts Commission, Western University of Health Sciences, Cal Poly Pomona, the Pomona Unified School District, and other partners are proud to be a part of this reading revitalization project. We are privileged to join a select group of 75 fellow grant awardees across the nation in a celebration of literature.

Event details and updates are available on the Pomona Public Library website and the National Endowment for the Arts website.

Last year, thousands of people in Pomona joined together to read Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451.” Several hundred residents had a rare opportunity to meet Mr. Bradbury in person at WesternU in October 2010.

For additional information about the NEA Big Read in Pomona, please contact Pat Lambert, Pomona Public Library Adult Reference Services Supervisor, at 909-620-2043, Ext. 2706.