6 Reasons to Read SO BIG by Edna Ferber this Month

*This blog contains SPOILERS for Edna Ferber's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel SO BIG.

It's a goal of mine to eventually read my way through the Pulitzer Prize Winners for Fiction. 

ALL of the Pulitzer Prize Winners.

I know that's a lofty goal, but I feel like I am up to the challenge and even though I have not connected with every single title I've read so far, I have definitely read a lot more that I wholeheartedly agreed deserved the recognition than those that left me, well, eye-rolling until the last page.

So when I say that SO BIG by Edna Ferber is one of the good ones, I hope you'll understand what I mean and give this 1925 winner the consideration it deserves.

From the first chapter, I knew I wanted to share SO BIG with Pretty Literate's Monthly Book Club and I dog-eared the month of May for its debut (see #4 below). As I continued to read, however, it became obvious that April was a much better fit (see #3 below) and now that we are finishing this little-known classic inside our private community, I wanted to share 6 reasons why YOU should read SO BIG by Edna Ferber this month, too.

1. SO BIG is engaging from the very beginning.

Edna Ferber created a believable, relatable main character in Selina, so much so that the reader cannot help but root for her literally from the first few pages of the novel. Selina is a character that compels the reader to willingly travel alongside her into an unknowable future that would likely cause anxiety and fear in many of us. By the end of chapter 2, Ferber's main character has wholly captured the reader's heart, creating the feeling of a genuine investment in her life. That initial compulsion to compassion for Ferber's main character grows through every page of the novel, introducing the reader along the way to the most likable, upstanding, and decent secondary & tertiary characters in literature.

2. SO BIG's main character is a female worthy of your admiration.

Edna Ferber's main character, having lost her mother at an early age, is then raised in the most unorthodox of circumstances by her gambling, widowed father. When she is orphaned at age 19, rather than having given in to hopelessness or despair, Selina becomes the captain of her own metaphorical ship, plotting her course and setting her sails for an adventure into the unknown. With no family or connections to help her, Selina builds a life from scratch out of the soil and the sweat of her brow. She conquers the giants as they present themselves with cleverness, ingenuity, and a lot of hard work. She bravely sets foot into a world formerly belonging solely to men - and succeeds in it! A lifelong learner, Selina is a main character definitely worthy of our admiration.

3. SO BIG's theme & novel treasure are perfect complements to TWO April holidays.

The more I read SO BIG, the more I realized that April was a better fit for our community read-along because of these two tree-hugging holidays:

  • EARTH DAY – Celebrate with this amazing Pulitzer Prize-winning novel inside the SO BIG BOOK BOX featuring the PERFECT novel treasure for participating in Earth Day's The Canopy Project.
  • ARBOR DAY – Celebrate with the SO BIG BOOK BOX and enjoy a novel treasure that is carefully curated to compliment the novel 𝑺𝑶 𝑩𝑰𝑮 while simultaneously placing you into the main character's shoes as a green-thumbed grower of something yourself - something you could nurture and tend with your own two hands - even if you have a black thumb like me!

4. SO BIG is a great read before the NEW Pulitzer Prize Winners are announced in May.

Why read Pulitzer Prize Winners? 

"The Pulitzer Prize in Fiction is a prestigious award that recognizes excellence in American fiction writing. Many literary experts and critics consider it to be a good indicator of literary quality, as the award is given to writers who have made significant contributions to the field of fiction writing." -Sage on Quora

Not reading your way through the Pulitzer Prize Winners like me? Not a problem! You can still enjoy the best of the best that fiction has to offer in a truly unique and unforgettable way - like inside the SO BIG BOOK BOX from past Pulitzer Prize winner Edna Ferber (1925) - in preparation for the NEW winners, which are announced each year in May. 

5. SO BIG's main character is based on real-life Dutch immigrant Antje Paarlberg.

Edna Ferber's SO BIG is a great example of finely crafted historical fiction. Based on a real-life Dutch immigrant that lived in the South Holland suburban area of Chicago, the direction that the fictional heroine's life took in the novel is based on the now-famous Antje Paarlberg - a Dutch immigrant who lost her husband en route to America in 1847. While the fictional character and the real-life immigrant's stories are very different, the inspiration behind Ferber's Selina is something the author peppered the pages of her novel with as a sort of homage to the hard-working new Americans of the past. 

You can learn more about the real-life inspiration behind SO BIG (Antje Paarlberg and the Paarlberg Historical Homestead) by visiting this website.

6. SO BIG reads like a modern-day novel.

SO BIG does not shy away from topics that connect us to both the setting and characters even though modern-day readers are separated through both time and space - topics like conflicting values between generations, advances in society & technology, and the value of social connections. In that way, it reads like a modern-day novel - one in which we can easily connect with the characters and circumstances they face even if they are foreign to our own experiences.

Have you read SO BIG yet?

If you have already read SO BIG by Edna Ferber, I hope you'll share in the comments the reasons YOU think others should read it, as well.

If you have NOT read SO BIG by Edna Ferber, what are you waiting for? I have a few SO BIG BOOK BOXES left and in most cases, they ship same day!



  • Awesome point, Lynda! Selina is the perfect example of that. Thanks for pointing that out. (And I am thrilled that you love the novel treasure because I do, too!)

  • 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻
    I applaud the novel So Big AND your excellent blog about why one should read it! It is by far one of my favorite novels in the classics community and the novel treasure IS my favorite out of all the novel treasures in any of the book boxes! One of the reasons I love the story in So Big is the idea that “old fashioned morals” and values does not necessarily equal an aversion to change and adapting as the world around you does the same, and can actually produce innovations and steps forward that otherwise may have taken longer or not at all! I absolutely recommend So Big and Selina to readers who love to connect the past and the present.

    Lynda A.

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