Whatcom Reads! events plentiful for Cheryl Strayed's "Wild" memoir


One of the amusing vignettes in Cheryl Strayed's "Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail" takes place in a motel room just before she embarks on her solo trek on the trail.

An inexperienced hiker, she finds that she filled her pack with so much gear that when she stood up she immediately fell backward on the bed.

That's just one of the varied and visual scenes Strayed describes in her book, the 2014 selection for Whatcom READS!

If you're new to Whatcom Reads!, it's the community reading event inspired by the "If All of Seattle Read One Book" begun by librarian Nancy Pearl in 1998.

Whatcom Reads! is brought to you by the public and academic libraries of Whatcom County - Bellingham Public Library, Bellingham Technical College Library, Northwest Indian College Lummi Library, Western Washington University Libraries, Whatcom Community College Library and Whatcom County Library System - along with community partner Village Books.

Strayed will come to Bellingham to talk about "Wild" on Feb. 24 and 25, but this is the month to start reading the book and to participate in an assortment of public events, funded in part by a grant from Humanities Washington and by Whatcom Reads! sponsors, Friends of the Bellingham Library and the Whatcom County Library Foundation.

Here are "Wild" events I learned about from Lizz Roberts, community relations coordinator for Whatcom County Library System. All events (except the Pickford Film showing) are free and open to the public.

- Wild Quilt Challenge: Create a quilt inspired by Strayed's bestseller. Deadline is Jan. 16, with details at fourthcornerquilts.com. The quilts will be displayed through February.

- History displays: Did you know a woman from Bellingham was the "mother" of the Pacific Crest Trail in 1926? She was Catherine Montgomery, supervisor of primary grades at Washington State Normal School (now Western Washington University). See a display of her efforts that Whatcom Museum photo archivist Jeff Jewell curated at Deming Library through Jan. 15, at the North Fork Community Library on Jan. 16-30 and at Bellingham Public Library on Feb. 3-28.

- Writer's talk: Local mystery writer Pam Beason will discuss wilderness as a compelling setting for writing at 1 p.m. Jan. 11 at Blaine Library.

- Session on memoirs: Sara Geballe of Memoir Crafters will discuss "Wild" in an interactive session on the value of preserving your life story, 10 a.m. Jan. 22 at Ferndale Library and 2 p.m. Jan. 25 at Fairhaven Library.

- Hiker's talk: Heather Anderson will recount her own record-setting Pacific Crest Trail hike, 7 p.m. Jan. 24 at Deming Library and 7:30 p.m. Feb. 6 at Bellingham Public Library.

- Filmmaker's presentation: Karen Bean will share stories and pictures from her many trips into the backcountry to make wilderness adventure DVDs, 3 p.m. Jan 25 at Everson Library.

- Open discussion groups: People can gather to talk about "Wild" at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at Bellingham Public Library, 7 p.m. Feb. 3 and 1 p.m. Feb. 12 at Village Books, 2 p.m. Feb. 15 at Ferndale Library, 10:30 a.m. Feb. 22 at Blaine Library and 2 p.m. March 12 at Bellingham Public Library.

- History talk: Author Janet Oakley will explain how the first hiking groups in the area and the Civilian Conservation Corps shaped the future of Mount Baker forest lands, 7 p.m. Feb. 4 at Bellingham Public Library and 1 p.m. Feb. 8 at Blaine Library.

- Contest reading: Winners of the Whatcom Writes! contest will read their entries on the theme of "journeys" at 4 p.m. Feb. 9 at Village Books. Their works also will be published in the annual Whatcom WRITES! anthology.

- Pickford showing: "The Way," an inspirational story starring Martin Sheen as an American doctor who travels to France to collect the remains of his adult son who was killed while walking The Camino de Santiago, screens at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 16 at Pickford Film Center. Tickets are $8 for adults, $7.50 for children.

- Naturalist's talk: Saul Weisberg, executive director and co-founder of North Cascades Institute, will discuss "Finding Home," through the lens of his work as an ecologist, naturalist and writer who has explored the Northwest's mountains and rivers for more than 30 years, 7 p.m. Feb. 11 at Bellingham Public Library and 7 p.m. Feb. 18 at South Whatcom Library (Sudden Valley Gate 2 at the Barn).

- Strayed visits: "An Evening with Cheryl Strayed" will start at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24 at Mount Baker Theatre, and she will be interviewed about her book by Bellingham author Suzanne Paola at 10 a.m. Feb. 25 at Bellingham Cruise Terminal. Both events are free; no tickets required.

Details: whatcomreads.org.


Labyrinth, the annual print publication of Western Washington University's Women's Center, is seeking poetry submissions for the 2014 edition. The theme is "Communities (Un)bound: An Exploration of Privilege and Oppression When Accessing, Being Denied, and Moving Through Circles of Communities."

Submissions are due Friday, Jan. 10. Details: as.wc.creative.programming@wwu.edu or Facebook.com/WWULabyrinth.

Reach Margaret Bikman at 360-715-2273 or margaret.bikman@bellinghamherald.com.

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