Book lovers will once again unite in Nelson for the 10th annual Kootenay Book Weekend beginning September 20.
The three-day event is basically a giant book club meeting. Participants will be randomly split into groups of 10 or 12 people, where they’ll discuss one of the weekend’s four books with the help of a trained facilitator.
There’s also social events like a book trivia contest, a used book sale and — the highlight of the weekend — an author’s talk. This year Giller Prize-winning author Elizabeth Hay, from Ottawa, will speak at the event.
The weekend is organized by a committee of 11 dedicated volunteers, including Victoria Vaseleniuck, one of the event founders. She says the book weekend has a loyal following among locals and visitors.
“A lot of the same people come year after year,” she says, noting the crowd is usually about half locals and half visitors, some coming from as far away as Ontario.
Though there’s many literary events in Nelson and elsewhere, Vaseleniuck says the weekend is unique because of its focus on book readers, rather than writers.
One of the other organizers, Gabriele Sinclair, says she enjoys the opportunity to discuss the books with new people.
“We all have our regular book clubs, but during the book weekend you’re in a room with different people who bring different perspectives to the conversation,” she says, adding that the best conversations happen when people in the room didn’t like the book and make their case for why it failed.
“If everyone agrees they liked the book, there’s less to talk about,” she says.
Organizers take that into account when they short list prospective books to include in the weekend. During the event participants will get the list of eight book, each with a synopsis, and will vote on three they’d like to discuss next year (the fourth book added to the roaster will be something by the author who’s booked to speak at the event).
This year’s books are The Appointment by Herta Muller, Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks, The State of Wonder by Ann Patchett, and Alone in the Classroom by Elizabeth Hay.
All the book discussions are for registered participants only, but the author talk is open to the public. Tickets are $10 to see Elizabeth Hay speak on Sunday, September 22 at 11 a.m. at the Best Western.
For more information about Kootenay Book Weekend and to register, see kootenaybookweekend.ca.