A community that reads together stays connected

Published on Wed, Feb 19, 2014 by Nathan Dalla Santa

Read More News

Blaine will host a community book discussion from 10:30 a.m. to noon on February 22 at the Blaine Public Library. The book under discussion is “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail,” by Cheryl Strayed, this year’s Whatcom Reads book. 

Whatcom Reads is a countywide program that encourages local residents to all read the same book and create a community-wide book club. Since 2008, Whatcom has been organizing the program and has featured several semi-local authors, such as Sherman Alexie. Each year, events are hosted across the county to encourage participation. Last year, more than 1,000 Whatcom residents participated in the program.

The Whatcom Reads committee of libraries, bookstores and schools in Whatcom County have strict criteria for choosing each year’s book. The author must be available to visit Whatcom, the book must have cultural, local or historical appeal and be available in a wide variety of formats, including large print, audio and multiple languages to encourage wide participation.

The committee selected Strayed’s book because of its strong connection to the Pacific Northwest. The book, written as a memoir, recounts Strayed’s transformative experience hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, from the Mojave Desert to Washington, alone, after the death of her mother and disintegration of her marriage. 

In keeping with the nature theme of Strayed’s book, the community is hosting hikes, foraging classes, speeches by wilderness-themed authors and even a visit from Strayed herself.

“We were very lucky to book Cheryl Strayed when we did,” said Debby Farmer, manager of the Blaine Public Library. “Right after we got her, her popularity skyrocketed and we wouldn’t have been able to afford to bring her up here if we didn’t get her when we did.”

Though the program is geared primarily toward adults, all ages are welcome to participate in Whatcom Reads, Farmer said.

For more information about upcoming Whatcom Reads events all over the county, visit whatcomreads.org.