January 9, 2020

Ann McAllen
Whatcom Reads
(360) 305-3620

Whatcom READS Announces 2020 Book Event Schedule

Whatcom READS, Bellingham and Whatcom County’s annual countywide book club, kicks off 2020 with a thought-provoking slate of programs inspired by this year’s featured title, To the Bright Edge of the World by Pulitzer Prize nominated author Eowyn Ivey. Most events are free and open to the public; programs at the Whatcom Museum and Evolve Café have a cost and may require reservations. See for more information.

“Inspired by the book, we’ll examine several themes including: discovery and adventure, early photographic technology, birds, cartography and feminism at events hosted at our local libraries and Village Books, and also in unexpected settings such as pubs and restaurants, the Whatcom Museum, and Allied Arts,” says Ann McAllen, adult programming coordinator for Whatcom County Library System and chair of the Whatcom READS committee. “We hope to get neighbors talking to each other about the book's themes and sharing their love of reading as we anticipate author Eowyn Ivey’s presentations at five local venues beginning Thursday, March 5 through Saturday, March 7.”

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2020 Book Event Themes

Book Theme: Discovery and Adventure

Like Eowyn Ivey’s Pulitzer Prize-nominated debut The Snow Child, To the Bright Edge of the World is set in remote Alaska, only a generation earlier, in 1885. Col. Allen Forrester is charged with leading an expedition up the icy Wolverine River across Alaska Territory, to the edge of the known world. Whatcom READS invited local adventurers to share their own stories of discovery.

Paddling with Spirits: A Solo Kayak Journey

Northwest author Irene Skyriver reads from her award-winning book, Paddling with Spirits: A Solo Kayak Journey. The adventure is both a kayaking experience and one of inner exploration as she connects to her Native coastal ancestors.

  • Bellingham Public Library – Central Library, 210 Central Ave. - Friday, Jan. 17, 6–7:30 p.m.
  • Whatcom County Library System Deming Branch, 5044 Mt. Baker Hwy. - Saturday, Jan. 18, 3–4:30 p.m.

The Mountains of Alaska

Join Alpine Institute guide Jim Mediatore to discuss alpine climbing and mountaineering in Alaska.

  • Whatcom County Library System Ferndale Branch, 2125 Main Street - Thursday, Feb. 13, 7–8 p.m.
  • Bellingham Public Library – Central Library, 210 Central Ave. - Thursday, Feb. 20, 6:30–7:30 p.m.

Whatcom WRITES Anthology Event

Writers explore the theme of discovery, inspired by Eowyn Ivey's book. Hear the authors read from this year's anthology.

  • Lynden Village Books, Inn at Lynden meeting room, 100 5th Street- Sunday, Feb. 23, 2–3:30 p.m.
  • Fairhaven Village Books, Readings Gallery, 1200 11th Street - Sunday, March 1, 2-3:30 p.m.

Book Theme: Early Photography

At the Vancouver Barracks in Washington Territory, Col. Allen Forrester’s wife Sophie adjusts to her blossoming pregnancy while eagerly anticipating word from her husband. Not content to bide her time while Allen is out adventuring, Sophie explores the emerging art of photography, discovering a talent that defines her life.

Camera UnObscura Workshop

Explore early photographic technology, similar to that used by Sophie Forrester in To the Bright Edge of the World. In this intergenerational workshop, participants will learn about the beginnings of photography and build their own camera obscura. Fun for ages 8 to 80 (and beyond!)

  • Whatcom Museum – Lightcatcher Building, 250 Flora Street, Bellingham Saturday, Jan. 18, 1–2:30 p.m.; $30 museum members/$35 non-members.

Book Theme: Birds

As the months drag on, Sophie Forrester begins to sense a strong, mystical force at play. A raven appears, ominous and foreboding. Sophie’s loneliness becomes palpable. An amateur naturalist and birder, she finds solace in photography, building her skills while attempting to capture light and the life force of birds in her images.

Audubon Fourth Sunday Event: Birds on the Shelf—Taxidermy and Our Complex Relationship with Birds

North Cascades Audubon Society volunteer Paul Woodcock will give a short talk and discussion on the history of collecting bird specimens and how it relates to the John M. Edson Hall of Birds. All ages are welcome.

Audubon Fourth Sunday Event: A Short History of Bird Watching

Though people have always had reasons to be interested in birds, over the past century bird watching, or birding, has developed from a fringe pastime into one of the most popular hobbies in America. Join North Cascades Audubon Society volunteer Paul Woodcock and learn about that change and how you can take part.

  • Whatcom Museum - Old City Hall, 121 Prospect Street Sunday, Feb. 23, 1:30 – 2:30 p.m.; included with admission/ members free

The Birds of Western North America Event

Photographer Ken Salzman shares his beautiful images in a slideshow set to music.

  • Whatcom County Library System Blaine Branch, 610 3rd Street - Saturday, Feb. 29, 11 a.m.–12 p.m.

Book Theme: Cartography

As they map the territory and gather information on the native tribes, whose understanding of the natural world is unlike anything they have ever encountered, Col. Allen Forrester and his men discover the blurred lines between human and wild animal, the living and the dead.

Telling Stories through Textile Maps Event

Bettina Matzkuhn's textile maps tell stories through unusual forms not normally associated with embroidery. She discusses her process to create work that has been exhibited internationally.

  • Whatcom County Library System Blaine Branch, 610 3rd Street - Saturday, Feb. 22, 2–3 p.m.

Book Theme: Feminism

Sophie Forrester chafes under social restrictions and yearns to travel with her husband. She eschews the ladies groups at the Vancouver Barracks, opting to spend time exploring the natural world and developing her artistic talent. The author’s portrayal of the forward-thinking, independent and self-confident Sophie is inspiring.

Washington’s Undiscovered Feminists (Humanities Washington)

Celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage as writer Mayumi Tsutakawa presents five “woman warriors” in the arts and journalism from the past century whose stories inspire. She explores how these women changed our state and our society.

  • Bellingham Public Library – Central Library, 210 Central Ave. - Friday, Feb. 14, 6–7:30 p.m.
  • Whatcom County Library System Ferndale Branch, 2125 Main Street - Saturday, Feb. 15, 2–3:30 p.m.

Whatcom Reads: Inspired Gatherings

Bellingham Cocktail Week-Think & Drink

Whatcom READS is partnering with Bellingham Cocktail Week and Evolve Chocolate + Cafe to host a spirited discussion of this year's title, To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey. A themed cocktail and appetizer inspired by the book will be available for purchase. Join us for this lively, guided book conversation.

  • Evolve Chocolate + Café, 1200 11th street - Wednesday, Feb. 5, 6-7:30 p.m.

Whatcom Reads: Art Challenge

Create art inspired by the book for display at Allied Arts during the month of March.

  • Allied Arts, 1418 Cornwall Ave., Bellingham
  • Submissions due: Monday or Tuesday, March 2 or 3, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
  • Reception: Friday, March 6, 6-9 p.m.
  • Exhibition: March 6–March 28

Whatcom Reads BOOK GROUPS

Join the conversation: Discuss To the Bright Edge of the World with a book group.

  • Village Books Front Streeters, Inn at Lynden meeting room, 100 5th Street, Lynden - Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2-3 p.m.
  • Village Books General Literature, Readings Gallery, 1200 11th Street, Bellingham - Monday, Feb. 3, 7-8 p.m.
  • Whatcom County Library System, Sumas Book Group (Sumas Branch), 461 2nd Street - Saturday, Feb. 8, 10-11 a.m.
  • Village Books Motherhood by the Book, Readings Gallery, 1200 11th Street, Bellingham - Sunday, Feb. 9, 2-3 p.m.
  • Whatcom County Library System, Foothills Book Club (North Fork Branch), 7506 Kendall Road - Tuesday, Feb. 11, 6:30-8 p.m.
  • Village Books Afternoon Book Chat, Readings Gallery, 1200 11th Street, Bellingham - Wednesday, Feb. 12, 1-2 p.m.
  • Whatcom County Library System, Books on Tap (Deming Branch event), North Fork Brewery, 6186 Mt. Baker Hwy. - Tuesday, Feb. 18, 7-8:30 p.m.
  • Whatcom County Library System, Ferndale Book Group (Ferndale Branch), 2125 Main Street - Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2:30-4 p.m.
  • Bellingham Public Library, Bellingham Reads Book Club, Central Library, Dodson Room, 210 Central Ave. - Tuesday, Feb. 25, 6:30-7:30 p.m.
  • Village Books Books and Brews, Overflow Taps, 106 5th Street, Lynden - Tuesday, Feb. 25, 7-8 p.m.

Whatcom Reads Author Events - Free and open to the public

Whatcom READS culminates with five presentations by author Eowyn Ivey. Next year’s title will be announced at the March 5 event at the Mount Baker Theatre.

  • Book Discussion with the Author Whatcom County Library System Ferndale Branch, 2125 Main Street - Thursday, March 5, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • An Evening with Eowyn Ivey Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial Street, Bellingham - Thursday, March 5, 7-8:30 p.m.
  • The Art and Craft of Writing, Western Washington University, Wilson Library Reading Room - Friday, March 6, 2-3:30 p.m.
  • Coffee with Eowyn Ivey Whatcom Community College, Heiner Theater, 237 W. Kellogg Road, Bellingham - Saturday, March 7, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
  • A Conversation with Eowyn Ivey Jansen Art Center, 321 Front Street, Lynden - Saturday, March 7, 7-8:30 p.m.

About Whatcom READS: Now in its 12th year, Whatcom READS is presented by all the public and academic libraries in Bellingham and Whatcom County and community partner Village Books. Funding sponsors are Friends of the Bellingham Public Library and Whatcom County Library Foundation. Whatcom READS is generously supported by numerous community collaborators. Check out To the Bright Edge of the World at the library or purchase it from Village Books, which donates 10% of all sales to Whatcom READS. Learn more at

About 2020 Featured Author Eowyn Ivey: Eowyn (pronounced A-o-win) LeMay Ivey was raised in Alaska and continues to live there with her husband and two daughters. She worked for nearly a decade as a bookseller at independent Fireside Books in Palmer, Alaska, and prior to that as a reporter for the local newspaper, The Frontiersman. Eowyn is a graduate of Western Washington University in Bellingham. Her debut novel, The Snow Child, was a New York Times bestseller published in more than 25 languages. It was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, a UK National Book Award winner, an Indies Choice award for debut fiction, and a PNBA Book Award winner. Her second novel, To the Bright Edge of the World, was published in 2016. Described as an atmospheric, transporting tale of adventure, love, and survival, it landed on numerous “best book” lists. Eowyn’s essays and short fiction have appeared in numerous publications. Learn more about the author at

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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