Annual County Reads competition returns April 22

Picton Branch of the Prince Edward County Public Library. (Desirée Decoste/Gazette Staff)

It’s April, which written word lovers in PEC will know means it’s time for the County Reads & Authors Festival.

This year’s events will be online. We’ll share more about the authors who will be joining the festival in a future column. If you want a sneak peek, visit The Festival begins with the County Reads Debate. Five brave readers have each chosen a book to champion.

We are thrilled in addition to these exceptional presenters, Ken Murray has agreed to return as moderator.

After 20 years in Belleville, Sandra Barnes is now proud to call the County home. You may recognize Sandra as the host of Quinte Cares, on Cogeco YourTV. Sandra is currently working for the Alzheimer Society of Hastings-Prince Edward promoting Dementia Friendly Communities through public education and training. Sandra is looking forward to the opportunity to defend the book, The Pull of the Stars by Emma Donoghue.

John Hirsch is well known for his work locally on conservation issues, especially the PEC South Shore. Persuaded by many people in the environmental movement, John ran in the municipal election in 2018 and now represents Ward 9 South Marysburgh. In this capacity, he sits on the Board of Quinte Conservation, the Audit committee, Prince Edward Heritage Advisory committee and now the newly formed Environmental Advisory Committee. John will champion “Agency” by William Gibson.

Anne Preston will need no introduction to those of you who have been following the County Reads since its inception – she is the founder of the event and led it for ten years before handing it to the library. In 2009, Anne founded County Kids Read – a project which addresses the link between literacy and poverty by distributing free books to children in need. She continues in this role as chair. Anne is going to make her case for why we should all read Ru by Kim ThÚy.

Kevin Scanlon’s career in journalism spanned 42 years and included work at all of the Toronto daily newspapers, Macleans Magazine and Equinox magazine. After his retirement, he fulfilled a lifelong dream when he briefly worked at the International Herald Tribune in Paris. He lives in Wellington where he continues to work on a novel that he hopes to finish before someone writes his obituary. Kevin will present The Good German by Dennis Bock.

Alexandra Seay is excited to join the County Reads panel. As the General Manager of the Regent Theatre all Alexandra’s creative energies are consumed by keeping it moving forward through these challenging times. But she looks forward to a not-too-distant future when she has free time to continue her work as a director/writer and creative developer specializing in literary adaptations. In the meantime, she continues to be grateful for the opportunity to call the County home and for the invitation to read books! Alexandra has chosen 26 Knots by Bindu Suresh.

Register to join us Thursday, April 22 at 7 p.m. at

After presentations we’ll take a brief intermission to vote and results will be announced live.

-Liz Zylstra