Island book groups gather for good reads and good fun

It’s time for book lovers to come out from beneath the covers.

Novelist and Langley resident Elizabeth George will speak at the seventh annual All-Whidbey Book Groups Gathering.

Novelist and Langley resident Elizabeth George will speak at the seventh annual All-Whidbey Book Groups Gathering.

It’s time for book lovers to come out from beneath the covers.

Get your nose out of that book and make your way over to one of the most exciting island gatherings of book lovers all year.

It’s time for “It’s a Mystery to Me,” the seventh annual All-Whidbey Book Groups Gathering from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 9 at St. Hubert Catholic Church in Langley.

The All-Whidbey Book Groups Gathering got its start in 2004, when members of the Book Owls, a book discussion group, decided the island’s booklovers needed a place to get together and celebrate their penchant for literary conversation.

The Book Owls host the event every year and have even put together a “Book Lovers Guide to Creating a Gathering,” authored with the help of Owls founder, Linda Casale, and fellow Owls Donna Hood, Karen Krug and Sharen Heath.

Casale and the others saw a need for the bookish of Whidbey to have a place to get their ya-yas out.

“Book readers are enthusiastic people,” Casale said. “They bust at their bindings to tell others about a great book.”

The idea was to provide a place for men and women of a dozen or more island book discussion groups to gather together in the middle of the chilly, dark winter to enjoy some food and drink, exchange books and to chat about their “best books of the year.”

This year, in honor of its focus on mysteries, Langley resident and award-winning writer Elizabeth George will headline the event.

George is a particular master at writing large novels in which a crime occurs. You may have read her last novel “Careless in Red,” featuring the beloved Inspector Thomas Lynley. George will release her 15th crime novel in April titled “The Body of Death.”

Book club participants are in for a treat with a presentation from this New York Times bestselling author, but can also look forward to a full evening of additional activities including a potluck, a book exchange and a raffle to win gift cards purchased from local businesses. The raffle will benefit all island Sno-Isle libraries in support of the popular book group program, “Whidbey Reads.”

Through the years, the event has come to attract a healthy number of book lovers who all leave with a new booklist and new friends with whom they can discuss their favorite books.

“The energy every year builds as many of the book groups plan their next year reading selections on what they hear at this get-together,” Casale said.

The first year there were 50 participants. In the second year, there were 80, and by the third year, there were 110 book lovers representing 13 island book groups who gathered under one roof.

At the seventh annual gathering, book groups will share their top three picks from 2009 readings, and participants who are not affiliated with a book group yet can sign up to attend a how-to meeting on starting a new group. E-mails with specific instructions for each group’s participation will be sent to group leaders.

Book group leaders can contact Casale 331-5372 or for more info.

Anyone wishing to donate books for the book exchange, or any new book groups formed in 2009, should also get in touch with Casale.

Because the theme this year is “It’s a Mystery to Me,” donations of mystery novels will be especially appreciated.

For more info, click here.

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