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Whistler Reads Turns Ten: Come Celebrate

abstract:As Whistler Reads turns 10 we reflect on a decade of book events, authors and the evolution of a program for readers that has contributed to the cultural fabric and the history of this mountain community in fun and memorable ways. Enter the contest: What was your favourite book of the decade? We'll vote on your passionate defence - and make that a Whistler Reads pick! Help shape what everyone in Whistler is reading and talking about!

Looking Back on a Decade of Shared Events Join Us!
March 28th, 2015 5pm-7pm
Nita Lake Lodge Library | $25 w your first glass of wine
Tickets Here

It was ten years ago this month that Whistler Reads launched its first book discussion. (PiqueNewsmagazine Announcement) Betty McWhinnie was our first member! The book was Rockbound by Frank Parker Day - a fascinating look at an unlikely title that won the Canada Reads selection for 2005. (Discussion outcome)


March 09, 2015
— Over the course of the next several years the events kept coming every 2 months, alternating fiction with nonfiction and the membership grew quickly. Whistler was ripe for the opportunity to branch out of our cozy private gatherings in the company of friends in one another’s homes – and join an open forum, welcome to new members and the wider public.

Founder, Paula Shackleton brought 20+ years of experience with book groups. She had launched a website designed specifically for the needs of book groups and avid readers ( that combined literary news, book reviews, author interviews and podcasts with specific tools for groups to organize, communicate; purchase rate and track the books they'd read together, as well as post dates on their own group calendar. Whistler Reads events were featured on the home page, (as they remain today) so that anyone could browse, join and connect with others. Be that to arrange a car pool to events, to exchange books, mix with locals, intrepid newcomers and curious visitors in addition to the invited authors.

Over the ensuing years no event resembled the previous one.“Beyond Measure” by BC Book Award & Giller finalist, Pauline Holdstock was hosted in a Whistler mansion complete with author and body-painted male servers (to counter the body-painted females at Barefoot Bistro’s then infamous Masquerave), with food by Leslie Stowe and music by a Renaissance ensemble from Vancouver. The author recently told me she just found her commemorative WR t-shirt the other day! Anne Popma-founder of the WAC and current Whistler Cultural Community Advisor said the event had brought people together who never usually meet or speak to one another.

Then there was the political skit hosted at the WP Library with G.D. Maxwell and a cast plucked from the muni council, a former SNL comedian doing a parody on Canadian political leaders before MP John Weston led the discussion on a little known Senator from Illinois’s book, “The Audacity of Hope” by Barak Obama.

Another highlight was each of John Vaillant’s two separate WR readings of his GG winner, “The Golden Spruce” followed by his second gripping nonfiction title, “The Tiger” delivered to a packed audience in the Callaghan Room at the Weston Resort & Spa as heavy snowfall blanketed the village plaza seen through the room’s arched windows and John entranced the group with his slide show of the furthermost reaches of the Sino-Russian wilderness, re-telling the race to track down a man-eating Siberian tiger.

Reaching out through low to high technology, the group spoke with Vincent Lam about his Giller Prize winning short story collection, “Bloodletting and Miraculous Cures” via a conference phone carted into Spruce Grove Field House that was dialied to Lam’s cell phone as he rode a taxi to his night shift at Toronto General Hospital where he words as an attending Emerg physician. We topped that with a video Skype chat with Harper Lee’s biographer, Kerry Madden, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of Harper Lee’s classic novel, “To Kill A Mockingbird”. Recently we attempted to virtually rendezvous with members on Google Hangout (hit and miss, but nothing ventured-nothing gained.)

One of my personal favourites was the panel discussion for the book, “Seven Days in the Art World” by the Economist magazine's arts journalist and PhD ethnographer, Sarah Thornton. The event inspired my first book art sculpture, assembled inside the library atrium entrance where the event took place, viewed by thousands of patrons over the course of the summer and listed on the WAC's Art Walk. It served to blend literary arts with visual art and bring people into the library. The piece consisted of a skeletal frame of bent heavy construction rebar covered in a sheath of chicken wire to which hundreds of community donated books were attached - all in the shape of a waterfall that seemed to sprout out of a column and spill onto the floor. Within the structureI played a looped recording of a babbling brook. The public was invited to guess the number of books in a contest.

So whether you’ve read some, all or none of Whistler Reads book picks; whether you prefer to stay home than celebrate the Ian Fleming centenary at a Casino themed costume party and an Agent Provocateur fashion show, whether you missed the BC Businessman of the Year who sponsored and attended the event with Bank of Canada's chief consulting economist discussing Alan Greenspan’s book “The Age of Turbulence”, or you missed the sage smudge blessing in the Path Gallery that honoured the discussion of Joseph Boyden’s novel “Three Day Road” where a WR member contributed his great grandfather’s WWI trench poetry, or you joined the panel and community discussion on Michael Pollen's book Food Rules with local Pemberton farmer and slow food movement advocate, health educators and sports programers, or you made it to the forum on Whistler's response to climate change inspired by a collective reading of NYT's journalist Michael Friedman's book Hot Flat & Crowded - literary events like these are mind-opening, thought-provoking, community-building events that we hope you can consider worthy diversions. Have there been duds? You bet!
(Full list 4-B6B4-46D0-A76BEFB0B891AC9C/index.cfm)

Whistler Reads has collaborated with the Vicious Circle, the Whistler Arts Council, the Whistler Rotary Club, WORCA (Whistler's Off Road Cycling Assoc) the Chamber of Commerce group - WOW (Women of Whistler), Cornucopia, WPL, Whistler Mountain Gallery, White Dog Gallery, Whistler Blackcomb and Armchair Books. We’ve hosted events in almost every major hotel, several local restaurants, Millennium Place, The Path Gallery, the WPL, and stunning private Whistler homes donated by friends who are keen supporters.

Authors have been selected from as far away as the dissident Nobel Laureate, Liu Xiao Bo imprisoned on Mainland China; the translated work by Norwegian novelist Per Petterson; the Turkish Nobel Laureate Orhan Pamuk, to Canadian Giller and Governor General Award winners and back home to Whistler’s very own Stephen Vogler, Graham Fuller, Stella Harvey and Sue Oakey-Baker either as WR guest, a featured book review or a podcast interview.

So kick up your heels and head on down to Nita Lake Lodge Library on Saturday March 28th 5-7pm to celebrate a decade of shared literary events and help plan new ones. Founder Paula Shackleton says:

“We want to recognize the people who’ve helped WR grow and sustain this community of readers. Citywide reading programs are unique. People come to exchange perspectives and learn from each other. There are benefits of reading books from within the group perspective. Essentially you are taking an act of solitude, reading, and morphing that into a collaborative environment. Something that begins as an act of vicarious pleasure is further enriched by the variety of shared opinion and reflection. It also opens people to books, genres, translations they may not otherwise have chosen. People can come into a meeting absolutely hating a book or a character and through discussion come away with a completely different perspective, or at least enjoy a provocative challenge to their opinion. All of which enriches the group's experience as a whole. Despite the paradigm shift in the way books are published, distributed and formatted, people today have more choice than ever before - reading is on the rise. More books are available in translations from foreign languages, as audio format and the new interactive digital formats.”

"So whether you live, work or come to play here, read what Whistler Reads.”

Not A Registered Whistler Reads Member?

Members receive: The chance to win a free copies of our current title; 10% discount on books from Armchair Books; Discounts to any ticketed special events and courses; E-mail updates on latest events with discussion points and related research; The opportunity to take part in various programs.
  • Click JOIN
  • Select "Invited to join an existing book group"
  • Type in "Whistler Reads" (no quote marks) in the field asking for the name of the group
  • Fill in the rest of your information - and - ta da You're IN!
  • Log in. Browse the member list. Post a message on the forum. Check the book archive list. Tell us what you're reading or what you'd like the group to read next.



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