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Fiesta del libros

Locals kick off the 2007 Lake Oswego Reads program
by: Vern Uyetake, Masud Tahmassbi plays guitar during the LO Reads party. Tahmassbi and his step-father, Lake Oswego resident Mariano De Orbegoso, performed Spanish music at the party.

For rabid readers, the selection for this year's Lake Oswego Reads program is perfect - a book that revolves around a love for books.

And for those fascinated with colorful Spanish culture, even better - the book is set in Barcelona after World War II.

On Tuesday, hundreds of people who fit one or both of those categories visited the Lake Oswego Public Library to kick off the program and claim their complimentary copy of Carlos Ruiz Zafon's 'The Shadow of the Wind.'

The free bash - a virtual Fiesta del libros - featured live Spanish music by Mariano De Orbegoso and Masud Tahmassbi and a table of hors d'oeuvres such as olives, cheese and spiced potatoes, garnished with tiny red and yellow flags of Spain.

'This is the best deal in town,' said Mike Reilly, a retired teacher who enjoys reading mysteries.

A library regular, he enthusiastically looks forward to starting 'Wind,' a book he knows nothing about - yet.

About 700 copies of the 2004 international best-seller flew out of volunteers' hands and into those of readers eager to dig into the epic tale of murder, madness and doomed love.

Oh, and books, too.

Diane Ring, a former librarian whose primary interest is rare books and manuscripts, felt as though the choice was meant for her.

'I really love it when libraries reach out to communities in such an inclusive way,' Ring added.

Partygoers clutched their copies of 'Wind' and leafed through a library calendar that detailed all of the upcoming February events associated with LO Reads.

Tango lessons. Discussions. Sangria. Spanish coffees. The list goes on.

Aurora Smith, whose father Manuel was born in Spain, looks forward to attending a cooking class or two.

Smith and her husband Jerry arrived at the party without much information about the book. Now, they plan to read it together.

'I like anything related to Spain,' she said.

This is the first year that the library has implemented such a citywide event. If it's a success, officials plan to continue it next year with a different book, which the community may choose.

'I think it would be very popular because LO Library has a lot of support,' said book club member Hilary Johnson.

A similar program - One Book, One Community - was started by the Seattle Public Library in 1998, and other cities around the country - including Portland and Eugene - have started similar programs.

Library employees and board members selected the book - a suggestion from Michael Powell of Powell's Books - from nearly a dozen titles.

'This book is a great choice. There are so many issues in it … history, politics, people who love books, relationships …,' said Bill Baars, library manager. 'The characters are all well drawn out.'

'It's the one book you'll want to read again,' said Colleen Bennett, chair of the Friends of the Lake Oswego Public Library. 'At the end, everything ties together, so you'll want to go back.'

But where Lake Oswego's inaugural event differs from others is in how the entire community will be involved - from local restaurants to experts on Spain.

'At the Lake Oswego Library, we are thrilled that we can offer, for the first time, this program. We have the support of many businesses and organizations participating, which is why Lake Oswego is a great place to live,' said Cyndie Glazer, LO Reads organizer.

Students at both Lakeridge and Lake Oswego high schools, for example, will be immersing themselves in the book during the month of February.

English classes will be reading the book for extra credit while advanced Spanish classes will be reading it in its original language. Art classes will also work on Spanish-influenced pieces during this time.

Many local businesses will also be getting involved, as events will be going on throughout the city on virtually every day during February.

Book discussions will be held throughout the month at local Starbucks Coffee Shops, the Adult Community Center and at the library. Local grocers, Wizer's, Wild Oats, New Seasons and Palisades Market, will hold 'A Taste of Spain' on Saturdays from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. and Graham's Stationery will have 'Sangria Saturdays' while selling the book at a discounted rate.

Lake Oswego Parks and Recreation will offer cooking classes and tango lessons in February and various speakers will also be giving talks.

'We are happy that Lake Oswego Reads has brought the community together through the common bond of reading,' Glazer said.

On Feb. 25, the Millennium Concert Band will perform at the Lakeridge High School auditorium and, finally, on Feb. 28, a closing event will be held at Lake Oswego High School, where prizes will be given out to those who attended three or more events and had their 'passport' stamped.

There's also a small chance that author Zafon will show up to talk about his masterpiece. Zafon is in Barcelona finishing his next novel.

'If he shows up, it will be last minute,' Baars said.

But for the several weeks leading up to the events, participants are expected to read, read, read.

About 100 copies of the book are still available at the library for members who request them. Glazer pointed out that people don't have to read the book to attend the events.

Stacy Yost, a Spanish history buff who lived there for six months, planned to start reading 'Wind' immediately.

She was pleasantly surprised to learn about the program after she brought her kids to the library to hear De Orbegoso play guitar.

'It will be neat to see everyone embracing the same book because it will be on the lips of everyone in town,' Yost said.

For more information on the LO Reads program, visit www.lakeoswegolibrary.org or call 503-675-2538.