Charleston Reads Book Club to Host Author Ron Rash in Partnership with Clay Center

Today, Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin announced that the Charleston Reads Book Club has selected “Burning Bright” by Ron Rash as its November selection. The Clay Center received a grant to host the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read in Kanawha Valley this fall. This grant supports a community reading program between September 2020 and June 2021.


“We are thrilled to partner with the Clay Center to read ‘Burning Bright’ as part of our book club series,” said Mayor Amy Shuler Goodwin. “This NEA Big Reads grant also provides books for younger kids that we are excited to explore.”


In conjunction with these partners, the Clay Center looks forward to welcoming author Ron Rash virtually to discuss his work documenting the changing face of Appalachia with a variety of audiences. Rush will join the Charleston Reads book club meeting scheduled for Thursday, November 19 at 6 p.m. Participants can pre-register for the meeting at


The Clay Center is working with additional partners including the Kanawha County Public Library, Putnam County Library, Step by Step, Inc., and the West Virginia Humanities Council to distribute copies of the book to community members. Several hundred free copies are available and can be picked up at Kanawha County Public Library locations and the Clay Center.


Information about the NEA Big Read books:


Burning Bright by author Ron Rash: Though the 12 stories in Burning Bright cover a wide swath of time from the Civil War to the present day, collectively they tell a story about Appalachia. And though they take us along the winding roads to the old homesteads and subdivisions of the American South, where “the region is a character in and of itself” and “myths and legends and history permeate every story” (BookPage), they also pulse with universal human emotions.


Missing May by author Cynthia Rylant: This book, intended for students in grades 6-8, tenderly takes the reader through the stages of grief as they are experienced by a young child. 


The Princess and the Pickup Truck by West Virginia author, Bill Lepp: This book, intended for lower level elementary students, takes a twist on the classic The Princess and the Pea. Isn’t it time there was a fairy tale aimed at girls and women who wear hiking boots, don t comb their hair, and love pick-up trucks? The Princess and the Pick-up Truck is a modern retelling of The Princess and the Pea, but with an Appalachian, or at least rural, slant.