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WestportREADS 2019: About


Share Your Story: Virtual Exhibit of Westport’s Origins

Monday, Dec 10, 2018 - Thursday, Feb 28, 2019

As part of WestportREADS, the library is teaming up with the Westport Historical Society to create a virtual exhibit that celebrates Westport’s immigrant past, present and future. It will offer a visual representation of the patchwork history of our town, which becomes richer and more vibrant with every new person that enters it. More...

While virtual exhibit will launch in mid-January. We will begin accepting submissions...

There will also be collection events so that staff can help you with your submission, including scanning of images:

  • Thursday, December 27 from 11 AM -  6 PM at the Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place
  • Saturday, January 12 from 11 AM - 2 PM at the Library
  • Wednesday, January 16 from 10 AM - 12 PM at Center for Senior Activities, 21 Imperial Avenue
  • Pop-Up library visits to the YMCA and Town Hall.

WestportREADS PageTurners Book Discussion

Tuesday, Jan 15, 2019 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Discuss Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue, a companion book for WestportREADS. An immigrant working class couple from Cameroon and the upper class American family for whom they work find their lives and marriages shaped by financial circumstances, infidelities, secrets and the 2008 recession. More...

Migration Today in the Sweep of History

Thursday, Jan 17, 2019 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Why do people move? Is migrating an inherent instinct or would history tell us that humans gravitate to a sedentary lifestyle?

The United Nations Association Southwest CT will explore the richness of global culture that results with migrations in this discussion moderated by Alex Anvari. Whether your life is lived in one place— or that every generation of your ancestors had a migration, immigration or emigration story among their intimates—your experience of life will dramatically vary based on interactions with people on the move. In the spirit of WestportREADS, this will be a community conversation on why people move, how these migrations effect ecosystems and policies countries (and subunits) implement related to migrations. More...

Family Art Exploration of WestportREADS Themes

Friday, Jan 18, 2019 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM

This event is postponed. Please check later for a new date.

Explore the themes of immigration, cultures and magical doors portrayed in works of art in this program designed to build skills in observation, critical thinking, vocabulary and art appreciation. Elementary school age & up. Register online.

Community partner: Creative Connections


Liberty To Set Down: Immigrants and Migrants in Westport

Tuesday, Jan 23, 2019 - Sunday, Jun 30, 2019

The Westport Historical Society explores how immigrants have long woven the fabric of the town in its exhibit "Liberty To Set Down: Immigrants and Migrants in Westport, Connecticut." From its earliest settlement in 1648 in the parish of Greens Farms, the area that was to become Westport has been a crossroads of cultural expression. Westport’s immigration story began with the first Europeans who wrested the land from Native People to the forced immigration of enslaved Africans to the later waves of Irish, German, Italian and Polish immigrants of the 19th-century to a wide and varied immigration story of the 20th and 21st centuries. More...

WestportREADS Discussion of "Exit West"

Thursday, Jan 24, 2019 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

Discuss Westport Library’s WestportREADS selection Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, an award-winning novel that follows two refugees who, against all odds, find life and love on the run. Forced out of their country by civil war, this moving story celebrates love, courage, family and the fierceness of the human spirit. The book was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award and named a top ten best book of 2017 by the New York Times. More...

Author Susan Ross Introduces "Kiki And Jacques"

Saturday, Jan 26, 2019 3:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Author and Westport Library Trustee Susan Ross will lead a family discussion of her book, Kiki and Jacques, A Refugee Story,which is a WestportREADS companion book. This middle grade novel is about a Somali refugee girl and a local boy facing cultural differences on their way to finding friendship. The story reflects on the arrival of large numbers of Somali refugees to Susan's childhood home in Maine. More...

Dance Around the World

Sunday, Jan 27, 2019 1:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Spend the afternoon learning dances that people enjoy at parties around the world. Local instructors will teach dances from Turkey, Scotland and elsewhere! More...

Exploring Magical Realism with We Rise Storytelling Collective

Thursday, Jan 31, 2019 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM

The Westport Library teams with We Rise Storytelling Collective for an evening of art and stories exploring magic realism, which is one of the storytelling techniques used bt Mohsin Hamid in Exit West. More...

WestportREADS 2019: Discussion of "Exit West"

Wednesday, Feb 6, 2019 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

Discuss the WestportREADS selection Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, an award-winning novel that follows two refugees who, against all odds, find life and love on the run. More...

Location: Barnes & Noble, 1076 Post Road East

The Refugee Experience

Thursday, Feb 7, 2019 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

A Syrian refugee family describe their immigrant journey. Three years ago, Westporters sponsored a Syrian family and helped them migrate to the area. Learn what emigration is from this family and how their story enriches ours.Location: Saugatuck Congregational Church, 245 Post Road East. More...

Learn more about Local Refugee and Migrant Support.

Partners: TEAM Westport & the Westport/Weston Interfaith Council


Music Series: The New World Chorus

Sunday, Feb 10, 2019 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM

The New World Chorus is a Stamford based community inspirational choir, under the direction of founder, composer and music director Beth Styles and choir director Jason L. Terry, which combines voices from diverse backgrounds and traditions. With the vision of “One World, One Voice, United in Love," the choir performs original, uplifting contemporary spiritual music throughout the year, bringing people together in the name of love and unity. More...

Artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg on “Stranger Visions”

Wednesday, Feb 13, 2019 7:00 PM - 8:00 PM

New York-based artist Heather Dewey-Hagborg discusses her project “Stranger Visions.” She created portrait sculptures from analyses of the broad range of genetic material (hair, cigarette butts, chewed-up gum) collected from public places. More...

WestportREADS 2019: Explore Your Genealogy

Saturday, Feb 23, 2019 10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Learn how to research your family background using library databases, Ancestry and Heritage Quest. Best practices for virtual and in-person research will be explained so you can go and find your roots! More...

How Do I Get a Copy of Exit West?

In addition to numerous copies of Exit West available to borrow from our collection, we will have a display stocked with books that are free to take. You will notice that the books come with this bookplate on their inside cover. We hope that you will read the book and pass it on to someone else to enjoy. If you don't know anyone to give it to, feel free to bring it back to the library and leave it on the display for someone else to pick up. And if this book means something special to you, feel free to keep it, reread it, engage with it to your heart's content. 

Our Q&A with Mohsin Hamid

Q: What inspired you to write this story?

MH: I have migrated my whole life -- from Pakistan to California at age 3, back to Pakistan at 9, to America again at 18, to Britain at 30, and back to Pakistan nine years ago. I am a thoroughly mongrelized person, a complete hybrid. So I find the current anti-migrant sentiment that one encounters all over the world to be very troubling indeed. I wanted to write in response to that.

Q: Why did you choose to use magic realism to tell the story of Nadia and Saeed?

MH: I'm not sure I would call it magical realism, although I don't object to that label. For me, technology is functioning to obliterate geographic distance. The black rectangles of our mobile phone screens let our minds travel instantly to any point in the world -- and beyond, for that matter. The black rectangles of the doors in my novel simply allow people's bodies to do the same. Sometimes one has to bend reality slightly to explore what reality is.

Q: How do you see this novel fitting within the current world landscape?

MH: I think that human beings, like all animals, have always moved. Homo sapiens didn't evolve in Westport. People came there from somewhere else. The Westport of 200 years in the future will be as different from the Westport of today as the Westport of today is from the Westport of 200 years ago. We need to become more accepting of change -- it happens whether we wish it to or not.

Q: What would you like Westporters to take from reading Exit West?

MH: There isn't a single message, or a puzzle that readers have to solve. The novel will hopefully make people feel things, and when we feel things, we change. Perhaps I am drawn to the idea that everyone is a migrant, and that we need to have more compassion for the migrant within each of us.


Share Your Story : WestportREADS Virtual Exhibit

What's your family's migrant story? How did you get to Westport? Did you come centuries ago or days ago? We are teaming up with the Westport Historical Society to create a virtual exhibit to accompany their "Liberty to Set Down" exhibit. Each submission should include a photo and a one-page written explanation. Learn more...

E-mail submissions to

WestportREADS 2019 is funded by the estate of Jerry A. Tishman.