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Kay Kenyon | Join your neighbors in NCW’s regional read

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Remember when reading a book was a solitary venture? When you savored a book, finished it, and put it on the shelf? This winter and spring, that’s not happening! We’ve got a book in common, a master work of fiction that your friends will be reading, talking about and celebrating. Um, book activities? Yup. (As if a great read snuggled up by a nice fire wasn’t enough.)

The project is the North Central Washington Regional Read. The book? “Beautiful Ruins,” by Jess Walter from Spokane. It’s a New York Times best-seller, one that NPR’s Fresh Air called “A literary miracle,” and the New York Times Book Review, “A high-wire feat of bravura storytelling.”

Besides writing wonderful stories, and writing this wonderful story, Jess Walter is also a compelling speaker: in my opinion, brilliant, authentic, self-deprecating, and very funny. Remember that part, ‘cause he’s coming to town.

Why should we have a book in common?

All over the country, community books in common have become a way of celebrating stories, connecting with other book-lovers, and lighting a fire under our often mundane conversations. Instead of talking about the latest “Survivor” episode, we’ve got a book. So there. With Beautiful Ruins, we’ll be captivated by its characters, experience the charms of the Italian coast (where a mysterious woman arrives by mistake) be privy to the conversations of film star Richard Burton, and witness the dream factory of Hollywood, by turns joyful and heart breaking.

Want to join in?

Start with the book. Plenty of copies are now available at the library, and will, through May 15, be 15 percent off at A Book for All Seasons (Leavenworth), Hastings (Wenatchee), Riverwalk Books (Chelan), Trails End Bookstore (Winthrop.) Please mention the Regional Read for your discount.

Take part in library discussions. Places and times: Wenatchee, February 20, noon, Twisp, March 19, 7 p.m., Waterville, April 2, 10 a.m., Peshastin, April 15, 1 p.m., East Wenatchee, May 8, 4 p.m. and Leavenworth, May 22, 4 p.m.

Meet the author. Jess Walter will be in Wenatchee to speak and sign books on Friday, May 16, 6:30-8 p.m. at the Community Center, 504 Chelan Ave. This talk will be the keynote speech for the Write on the River Conference. The public is invited to attend. Meet Jess during the social time before the talk or afterward when you can have your book signed. The cost of the talk for those not attending the conference is $15. Tickets can be purchased on the Write on the River website, writeontheriver.org/north-central-washington-regional-read,beginning Feb. 8.

This project is sponsored by the Write on the River writing organization and conference, the North Central Washington Regional Library, and A Book for All Seasons.

Kay Kenyon is a local author. Her latest book is a historical fantasy, A Thousand Perfect Things. She serves on the board of directors of Write on the River.

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