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One Book, One Community: Stillwater Reads Woody Guthrie is a collaborative effort open to all ages designed to foster a sense of community through a shared reading experience and to broaden and deepen an appreciation of Woody Guthrie as an Oklahoma musician, writer and artist.

Sponsors: Stillwater Public Library, Oklahoma State University Library, Sheerar Museum of Stillwater History.

Major partners: Woody Guthrie Foundation, Friends of the Stillwater Public Library, Stillwater Public Library Trust, Friends of the OSU Library, Stillwater Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, OSU Institute for Creativity and Innovation, Center for Oklahoma Studies, Oklahoma History Center, Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture, Oklahoma Humanities Council, National Endowment for the Humanities, Oklahoma Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts.

Supporting partners: OSU Student Union Activities Board, George Kaiser Family Foundation, Stillwater Community Center, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, KOSU.

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this event do not necessarily represent those of the OHC or NEH.

About the Book

"Bound for Glory" by Woody Guthrie

"Bound for Glory" is an autobiographical novel by Woody Guthrie, the founder of modern American folk music. It is a funny, cynical, earthy and tragic account of his life in an Oklahoma oil-boom town, of the Depression that followed, and of his subsequent travels in, on and under trains, in stolen cars and on his feet, round an America going rotten from the top downwards.

Free Books

Free copy of the book are available at the Stillwater Public Library when you sign up for a community discussion (while supplies last). Books from the Oklahoma Humanities Council are available to check out from the OSU Library when you sign up for a campus discussion.

Public Events

Download our event flier, or visit our calendar of events for details.

Public Book Discussions

See a complete list of community discussions and a complete list of on-campus discussions.

Discussion Questions

  1. Why do you think Woody called “Bound for Glory” an “autobiographical novel”? Do we talk about the speaker of the book as a fictional character, as Woody Guthrie himself, or as a created persona for the sake of the stories in the book?
  2. What do you think are some of the moments in the book that shaped Woody Guthrie’s character, personality, or public persona?
  3. How does the understanding Woody has of his mother’s illness help shape the speaker of the book?
  4. In what ways is “place” important in the book? How do places affect Woody? What moments in the book really evoke Oklahoma?
  5. How does Woody Guthrie approach the issue of race in the book? How are ethnic groups portrayed? What do we think of his use of what are now socially unacceptable racial terms?
  6. Where can we find examples of the kind of songwriter he will become, or where do we learn about important musical moments that indicate where some of Guthrie’s musical influences come from?
  7. Where in the book does he start the “creative writing” portion or embellishment to make a point?
  8. How does the diction of the book help or hinder its reading? Is Woody’s use of the “intellectual rube” believable? Do we trust the character? How connected is this character to Will Rogers’ “common sense genius” that just pre-dates Guthrie’s emergence?
  9. If you were to describe three themes of “Bound for Glory¸” what would they be?
  10. Does “Bound for Glory” stand the test of time as important literature? Why or why not?

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