Upper Ohio Valley Festival of Books Is Saturday

WHEELING — The Wheeling Arts and Cultural Commission, in partnership with the Ohio County Public Library, will present the 2020 Upper Ohio Valley Festival of Books as a livestream event on Saturday, Nov. 7. The festival will start at 11 a.m. Attendees will be able to watch the events from the safety and comfort of their homes, on the Facebook channels of the UOVFB, the commission, and the library, as well as on the library’s YouTube channel.

This year, since the festival is serving as the capstone for the “Wheeling Reads” program featuring Tara Westover’s bestselling memoir, “Educated,” the UOVFB is showcasing memoir writing.

Speaking first at 11 a.m., Cassie Chambers is the author of the memoir, Hill Women. From the book’s description: “After rising from poverty to earn two Ivy League degrees, an Appalachian lawyer pays tribute to the strong ‘hill women’ who raised and inspired her, and whose values have the potential to rejuvenate a struggling region–an uplifting and eye-opening memoir for readers of ‘Hillbilly Elegy and Educated.'”

Bobi Conn, author of the memoir, In the Shadow of the Valley, will follow Chambers at noon. From the book’s description: “A clear-eyed and compassionate memoir of the Appalachian experience by a woman who embraced its astonishing beauty, narrowly escaped its violence, and struggles to call it home. Conn was raised in a remote Kentucky holler in 1980s Appalachia.After a 1 p.m. lunch break, Conn will lead a Memoir Writing Workshop on Zoom at 1:30 p.m. This event is limited to 15 participants. Send an email to lunchwithbooks@yahoo.com to register and receive a Zoom link.

Conn will guide participants to begin writing their own impactful memoir. In addition to a discussion of themes, symbolism and sensitivity, participants will engage in writing exercises and have the opportunity to ask questions about the writing and publishing process. The workshop is limited to 15 participants.

Wrapping up the UOVFB at 2:30 p.m. will be the Wheeling Reads Finale, also presented on Zoom (email lunchwithbooks@yahoo.com to register and get your link).

“Wheeling Reads: One Book, One Community” is designed to bring our city closer together through the shared experience of reading and discussing the same book. A year ago, the people of Wheeling were invited to vote for the book they wanted to read from a list of five. In a tight vote, they chose Westover’s bestselling memoir, “Educated.”

The UOVFB staff had big plans for the inaugural Wheeling Reads, with many programs being organized over the course of the year. Unfortunately, COVID-19 all but foiled those plans, limiting them to two events. But they are determined to finish in style and bring Wheeling’s first community read to a worthy conclusion with a lively discussion of the book.


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