Several events scheduled in the few weeks are aimed at book-lovers of all ages: a library fund-raiser featuring antique books, a "read-out" of banned books, and a visit by celebrated Northwest writer Sherman Alexie.
WRITER ALEXIE VISITS
Alexie's visit is co-sponsored by local independent bookseller Village Books and the Lummi Youth Academy and it's a fundraiser for the organization that provides educational and social support for tribal children. His talk is at 7 p.m. Monday, Oct. 29, in the Bellingham High School Theater, 2020 Cornwall Ave. Tickets are $5 and are available at Village Books and BrownPaperTickets.com. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. and ticketholders must be seated by 6:50 p.m., when open seats will be released.
Alexie, the author of several acclaimed books, grew up on the Spokane Indian reservation at Wellpinit. He's touring for his new collection, "Blasphemy: New & Selected Stories," which is scheduled for publication Oct. 2.
"It's possible that it will sell out," said Christina Claassen, events coordinator at Village Books. She said Alexie, who's also a stand-up comic, is known for his engaging and no-holds-barred presentations.
"He can be like a firecracker, but he's pretty entertaining," Claassen said. "He doesn't have a lot of filters."
Alexie's young adult novel, "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian," is a semi-autobiographical story of a teen suffering from hydrocephalus who seeks a quality education that will help him flee an abusive home and the drudgery of the reservation.
It won the 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.
BANNED BOOKS EVENT
As part of the American Library Association's 30th annual Banned Books Week from Sept. 30-Oct. 6, Village Books is sponsoring a free Banned Books Read Out from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at Village Books, 1200 11th St. in Fairhaven.
Many children's books, especially in the genre of young adult fiction, are targeted for censorship, frequently by parents who seek to have the books removed from schools for such reasons as profane language, violence and sexual situations. Banned Books Week seeks to draw attention to such attempts at censorship in America, Claassen said.
Among the books challenged or banned from U.S. schools in 2010-2011 were "The Hunger Games," a wildly popular teen dystopian novel by Suzanne Collins; "Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl"; and Alexie's "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian."
Village Books usually has a prominent display of banned books to highlight the weeklong observance. This year, the Read Out will allow participants to register and read aloud passages from banned or challenged books - or simply discuss their feelings about the book.
"We're hoping people will come and show passion for the books they feel strongly about," Claassen said. "Believe it or not, there are still places where they ban books."
Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws will read a Banned Books Week proclamation issued jointly with Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville. Other presenters will include Bellingham Public Library Director Pamela Keisner and Whatcom County Library Director Joan Airoldi.
Store employees will record videos of up to two minutes for each person, and post those online as part of a nationwide Virtual Read-Out. To schedule a time to read, call Village Books at 360-6713-2626 or email Lindsey McGuirk at email@example.com.
? Also as part of Banned Books Week, the Whatcom County Library Association is sponsoring a free Celebrate the Freedom to Read event from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Ferndale Public Library, 2007 Cherry St. near First Street. There will be educational displays, games and activities, prizes and refreshments.
To learn more about Banned Books Week and to see annual lists of banned and challenged books, go online to ala.org/advocacy/banned.
For those who own antique or otherwise collectible books, the second annual Treasured Tomes fundraiser offers a chance to learn if they have more than sentimental value.
Think of it as a kind of "Antiques Roadshow" for books, said Jan Nelson, who's on the program committee of the Friends of the Bellingham Public Library, which is sponsoring the event from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29, in the downstairs lecture room at the library, 210 Central Ave. Cost is a $5 donation.
"It's an opportunity to bring up to three books to have at least one of them evaluated," Nelson said.
Last year's inaugural event was well-received, Nelson said.
"Some people went out with smiles and some found out that their 'treasures' were absolutely worthless," she said.
Nelson said she and others enjoyed seeing the range of books that were presented for evaluation, from old children's collections to religious texts such as the Bible.
Evaluators for this year's event are Michael Elmer of Michael's Books, Eugene Vigil of Antiquarium Botannicum and Gyngr Schon of Old London Bookshop.
Elmer said that participants should be aware that because of time constraints, the evaluators won't be conducting a thoroughly researched appraisal, per se, but rather they will offer a calculated assessment based on their knowledge and decades of experience in the used-book business
"We are basically going to do an on-the-fly impression of value," he said.
ROBERT MITTENDORF is a Herald copy editor and page designer. Suggest your ideas for local family-friendly events or day trips at 360-756-2805 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.