About Whatcom READS!

Whatcom READS! is a county-wide program that encourages everyone to read and discuss the same book. It is organized by all the public and academic libraries in Bellingham and Whatcom County and our community partner, Village Books, with significant funding from Friends of the Bellingham Public Library and Whatcom County Library Foundation and support from other local businesses and organizations.

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 neighbors, and participate in programs and special events that follow the themes in the book selection. 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.

Whatcom READS! operates in partnership through a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a governing board that includes a representative from each partner organization.


Whatcom READS! was modeled after the highly successful Seattle Reads program, which began in 1998 and became a national phenomenon. Communities across the country, large and small, from New York to San Francisco to Spokane, have been hosting similar programs to wide acclaim.

In 2008, Whatcom County Library System and Whatcom Community College were each awarded federal grants administered by the Washington State Library to help establish the Whatcom READS! program. These libraries brought in other libraries as partners, as well as local businesses and other community organizations.

Together, these organizations share a vision of creating an annual literary happening that will have neighbors talking with neighbors about great literature and the joy of reading and sharing these experiences.


2018: Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist by Sunil Yapa

2017: The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison (video)

2016: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki (recorded events: at Jansen Art Center & at Mount Baker Theater)

2015: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown (video)

2014: Wild by Cheryl Strayed (video)

2013: Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson (video)

2012: In the Presence of the Enemy by Elizabeth George

2011: Border Songs by Jim Lynch

2010: Old School by Tobias Wolff

2009: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Videos from past year's events:

Jonathan Evison at the Mount Baker Theatre: Whatcom READS 2017 (March 2017)

Ruth Ozeki at the Mount Baker Theatre: Whatcom READS 2016 (March 2016)

Ruth Ozeki at the Jansen Art Center: Whatcom READS 2016 (March 2016)

Daniel James Brown at the Mount Baker Theatre: Whatcom READS 2015 (February 2015)

Cheryl Strayed at the Bellingham Cruise Terminal: Whatcom READS 2014 (February 2014)

David Guterson at Whatcom Community College: Whatcom READS 2013 (February 2013)

Whatcom READS! The First 5 Years

Whatcom READS! 2009 Committee with author Sherman Alexie


Support Whatcom READS! Donations directly support programs and materials. For example:

  • Your $125 donation helps us purchase 10 copies of Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, organized in a book club kit available for check out from all public libraries in Whatcom County.
  • Your $200 donation helps us purchase 20 copies of Your Heart is a Muscle the Size of a Fist, for "free-range" book distribution throughout Whatcom County. 
  • Your $500 donation helps us support the travel expense of bringing award-winning, best-selling authors to our area. 

​Whatcom READS! is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, making your contributions tax deductible. 

Mail your check to: Whatcom READS! c/o Whatcom READS! Treasurer, Whatcom County Library System, 5205 Northwest Drive, Bellingham, WA 98226.