Words

Whatcom Reads

The fight for freedom

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

In March 2016, when Whatcom County Library System executive director Christine Perkins reviewed Sunil Yapa’s debut novel, Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, Donald Trump had not yet been elected president, and the surge of citizen activism that would arise as a direct result of his election had yet to come. 

A couple of years down the line, Yapa’s story set amid the 1999 protests in Seattle during a meeting of the World Trade Organization is more relevant that ever. Via the point of view of a number of characters—among them the adopted and estranged son of the police chief, a middle-aged idealistic revolutionary, two cops with issues, and a delegate from Sri Lanka—readers will discover that Yapa’s compelling tale of conflict and compassion is a universal one.

“The novel’s title references a poster made popular during the time of the protest, which carries the subheading ‘Keep Loving, Keep Fighting,’” Perkins wrote in her Cascadia Weekly review. “The author’s message is clear: If one deeply loves freedom and other people, one must fight to protect them. The fight may not be literal—it may mean committing oneself to understanding others’ points of view. At its simplest, the idea is that empathy is a deeply radical act.”

The oh-so-timely themes that arise from Yapa’s book made it a natural Whatcom READS choice for this year, organized by all the public and academic libraries in Bellingham and Whatcom County and their community partner, Village Books. Per usual, the countywide program that encourages everyone to read and discuss the same book will conclude with a number of in-person visits by the author—this year, those will take place March 8-10.

But in the days and weeks before Yapa’s five free visits—which include “An Evening with Sunil Yapa” keynote presentation at the Mount Baker Theatre—a dizzying array of book talks, gatherings, art events and live musical presentations at area libraries and bookstores will expand on the book’s focal points.

Music-wise, “Pete Seeger: The Man and the Music” with Hank & Claire (Feb. 1 at the Lynden Library and Feb. 2 at the Ferndale Library), “Songs of Protest & Social Justice” with Jimmy Brite (Feb. 3 at the Everson Library, and Feb. 24 at the North Fork Library), and “Songs of Action & Compassion” with Tracy Spring (Feb. 18 at the Firehouse PAC, and March 2 at Allied Arts) will explore the connections between great music and passionate activism.

“I’m personally excited about two particular programs that are just a little different,” WCLS community relations coordinator Lizz Roberts says, pointing to “Think and Drink: I Was There” Feb. 10 at Van Zandt Hall, and “Digging Deeper with Sunil Yapa” March 8 at the Deming Library.

“‘Digging Deeper’ will be a different kind of Whatcom READS author program,” she says. “We asked Yapa for a list of books that have influenced his work, and that evening he will talk about those titles. I know that writers will be especially interested in this one.

“For the ‘Think and Drink,’ we’ve found folks who were there at the WTO riots and want to talk about it,” she says. “Having been in a number of marches myself, it will be interesting to hear what it was like for others. It makes me wish I could visit the future to hear how parents will talk to their kids about what’s going on now.”

The Whatcom READS pick is available for checkout at all public libraries in Whatcom County in a variety of formats. For a full lineup of events, go to http://www.whatcomreads.org

West Coast
More Words...
The Newcomers
A refuge for refugees

The refugees arrive with nothing, not even the language, having escaped violence, poverty, unspeakable loss. Their destination is Denver, Colorado. There they will land in a classroom helmed by Eddie Williams, the teacher tasked with orienting refugees from around the globe to their new…

more »
Yellowstone Bookshelf
The wild heart of the Rockies

I have been making semiannual pilgrimages to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) for two decades, drawn 1,000 miles east in all seasons to explore one of the wildest landscapes left in North America. Yellowstone National Park protects the heart of the ecosystem, serving as an imperfect…

more »
Surging Seas
The water will come

Flash forward to 2050. Most of Blaine and Birch Bay are underwater, as are Sandy Point, big sections of Slater and Ferndale roads, Squalicum Harbor, the new waterfront development, the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, and parts of Fairhaven—to name a few places in Whatcom County.

This is the…

more »
Events
Today
Bellingham Cocktail Week

5:00pm|Throughout Bellingham

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

12:00pm|Throughout Bellingham

Birding for Kids

2:30pm|Skagit Valley

Cuban Salsa

6:00pm|Bell Tower Studios

Controlling Cravings

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tomorrow
Bellingham Cocktail Week

5:00pm|Throughout Bellingham

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

12:00pm|Throughout Bellingham

Farm-to-Table Trade Meeting

8:30am|Bellingham Technical College

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

WAKE Meeting

6:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

Cocktail Party Class

6:30pm|Ciao Thyme

Afghan Cuisine

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Books on Tap

7:00pm|North Fork Brewery

Cameo Jazz

7:00pm|Pegasus Gallery

Comedy Open Mic

7:30pm|SHakedown

Celtic Nights Village Books
Wednesday
Bellingham Cocktail Week

5:00pm|Throughout Bellingham

Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

12:00pm|Throughout Bellingham

A Forest of Words Poetry Competition

8:00am|Whatcom County

How to Build a French Pastry

2:00pm|Semiahmoo Resort

Garden Design

4:00pm|Blaine Library

Creekside Open Mic

6:30pm|South Whatcom Library

Fondue Party

6:30pm|Community Food Co-op

Intro to Improv

7:00pm|Improv Playworks

Plant Plumbing

7:00pm|Sustainable Living Center

Daimh Concert

7:00pm|Littlefield Celtic Center

Michael van Bebber Quartet

7:00pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Scottish Country Dancing

7:30pm|Fairhaven Library

see our complete calendar »

Trove Web Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Celtic Nights