The Okanagan Regional Library announced the start of its first Valley-wide reading project, Okanagan Reads on January 31. Aimed at promoting literacy, the project will encourage participants throughout the Okanagan to read the same book.
Shoot!, a western novel set in the Thompson Okanagan in the late 1800s by award-winning Okanagan author and Canada’s first Poet Laureate, George Bowering, has been selected as the book for Okanagan Reads. Bowering has published more than 80 books of fiction, history, plays and poetry.
“This ‘one book/one community’ project provides an opportunity for people to read, discuss and connect,” says Librarian Fern Teleglow, coordinator of the first-time project.
“The Okanagan has a rich heritage and we hope our choice of one book will not only encourage reading, but also connect the community with the history of the area.”
Okanagan Reads, which starts February 1 and goes through March 8, will feature author readings, film screenings and book discussions in library branches across the region. Readers can follow the dialogue at okanaganreads.ca and join the discussion on the library’s social media channels.
Shoot! follows the adventures of the McLean Gang and brings to life the historical account of the murder of constable Johnny Ussher in the 1800s. Known as “breeds,” mixed Scottish and Salish blood, the McLeans were outcasts of both cultures and destined to be outlaws.
British Columbia, and in particular the Okanagan, appear frequently in George Bowering’s work, who was born in Penticton and raised in Oliver.
“He paints vitality into the world he creates,” says Teleglow.
“Any reader familiar with the area will never look at the history, the hills, and the people the same way ever again.”
Extra copies of Shoot! have been purchased and are also available as Quick Reads, a seven-day library loan. Shoot! is also available from local bookstores.
The project is made possible by a $24,000 Libraries and Literacy grant from the BC Ministry of Education and support from New Star Books and local Okanagan media.
The Okanagan Regional Library (ORL) has branches extending from Revelstoke and the Shuswap, through the Okanagan Valley and into the Similkameen Valley. There are more than 107,000 active library users across the 29 branches. ORL circulates more than 3.3 million print and electronic materials each year.
For branch hours, visit the Library website.