2011 is the beginning of Our Region Reads, a cooperative effort by area libraries to encourage residents of North Idaho to read together a shared book and to enjoy educational and cultural events related to that book. The program is supported in part by a grant from the Idaho Humanities Council with additional support from the Friends of the Library at Post Falls, Hayden and Coeur d’Alene libraries.
The first selection for Our Region Reads is The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, by New York Times bestselling author Jamie Ford, a resident of Montana. The text from the back cover of the book reads as follows:
In 1986, Henry Lee joins a crowd outside the Panama Hotel, once the gateway to Seattle's Japantown. It has been boarded up for decades, but now the new owner has discovered the belongings of Japanese families who were sent to internment camps during World War II. As the owner displays and unfurls a Japanese parasol, Henry, a Chinese American, remembers a young Japanese American girl from his childhood in the 1940s - Keiko Okabe, with whom he forged a bond of friendship and innocent love that transcended the prejudices of their Old World ancestors. After Keiko and her family were evacuated to the internment camps, she and Henry could only hope that their promise to each other would be kept. Now, forty years later, Henry explores the hotel's basement for the Okabe family's belongings and for a long-lost object whose value he cannot even begin to measure. His search will take him on a journey to revisit the sacrifices he has made for family, for love, for country.
If you’d like to join the read, several copies of the book are available at participating libraries. Or if you’d prefer your own copy, it is available through booksellers in hardback, paperback, and ebook formats.
Events relating to the book begin this month when history professor Robert Sims offers a presentation on the Minidoka Internment Camp. Located in south central Idaho, Camp Minidoka was also called Hunt, and held nearly 10,000 people of Japanese ancestry during the war. The camp had a great impact on Idaho during the war years and was an important part of both Idaho and United States History. In 2001, it was designated as a National Monument, and plans are being developed for the site.
Sims will speak and present a slideshow in four Idaho communities as part of the Our Region Reads project:
- Feb. 24, 3 p.m., Golden Spikes Community Center, 8580 W. Yosemite, Rathdrum
- Feb. 25, 3 p.m., Spirit Lake Library, 32575 N. Fifth Ave., Spirit Lake
- Feb. 25, 6 p.m., Athol Library, 30399 Third St., Athol
- Feb. 26, 2 p.m., Hayden Library, 8385 N. Government Way, Hayden
Additional events will take place in March featuring author Priscilla Wegars. Wegars will present Imprisoned in Paradise : Japanese Road Workers at the Kooskia Internment Camp, which is the title of one of her books.
A full schedule of events and other information about Our Region Reads is available at participating libraries and at http://www.ourregionreads.blogspot.com/.
Check it out and help make this program a success.
Also, take a look at our Events page for other upcoming happenings in our area.