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Whatcom READS

What it is

Whatcom READS is an annual opportunity for all of Bellingham and Whatcom County to read the same book and join together in conversation. It is organized by all the public and academic libraries in Bellingham and Whatcom County and our community partner, Village Books.

The vision and goal is to expand our community dialogue by encouraging neighbors talking with neighbors about great literature, important issues, and the joy of reading and sharing these experiences. This project thrives thanks to significant funding from Friends of the Bellingham Public Library and the Whatcom County Library Foundation, and support from other businesses and organizations.

How it works

Each year, a new book is selected by Whatcom READS organizers. Community members are encouraged to read or listen to the book, share it with family, friends, and book clubs, and participate in programs and special events that follow the themes in the book.

Each series culminates with a visit by the author of the selected book, who makes numerous free-of-charge presentations at locations throughout the county in early March.

Whatcom READS operates through a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a governing board that includes a representative from each partner organization, including the Bellingham Public Library.

2021 Book Selection – Washington Black

Cover of novel Washington Black

Washington Black is the third novel by Esi Edugyan and was included in numerous best books of the year lists when it was published in 2018.

The title character George Washington Black is an eleven-year-old field slave who knows no other life than the Barbados sugar plantation where he was born. When his master’s eccentric brother chooses him to be his manservant, “Wash” is terrified of the cruelties he is certain await him. But Christopher Wilde, or “Titch,” is a naturalist, explorer, scientist, inventor, and abolitionist. He initiates Wash into a world where a flying machine can carry a man across the sky; where two people, separated by an impossible divide, might begin to see each other as human; and where a boy born in chains can embrace a life of dignity and meaning.

Numerous copies of Washington Black are available to borrow from Bellingham Public Library and Whatcom County Library System. Books are also in stock for purchase at Village Books.

Join the Conversation

Numerous speaker events have been scheduled to discuss the multiple themes present in the novel including racial justice, science and the beauty of the natural world. See the Whatcom READS website for full details on the following events, as well as art and writing activities.

Photo of Robert Lashley

Poetry Reading with Robert Lashley

January 14, 2021, 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Photo of Clyde Ford

Technology and Social Justice with Clyde Ford

February 11, 2021, 7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Octopus drawing

The Smart Skin and Amazing Brains of the Octopus

February 13, 2021, 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

Photo of Gloria Burgess

I’ll Fly Away: A Sojourn Through Poetry and Spirituals

February 25, 2021, 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Cover of novel Washington Black

Conversations with the Author: Esi Edugyan

March 4 – 5, 2021, (details to be determined)

More Information

More information about Whatcom READS, including a schedule of events, videos of past events, and much more, available on the Whatcom READS website.