Susan Olding

Susan Olding’s debut collection, Pathologies: A Life in Essays, was selected by 49th Shelf and Amazon.ca as one of 100 Canadian books to read in a lifetime. Her latest book is Big Reader, a collection of essays about her life as a reader. Her essays, fiction, and poetry appear widely in literary journals and anthologies throughout North America, and her work has won a National Magazine Award, the Edna Staebler Prize for the Personal Essay, and other honours. She holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Cultural Studies at Queen’s University. She lives in the traditional territories of the Lekwungen and W̱SÁNEĆ peoples, in Victoria, British Columbia.


Big Reader
Published by Freehand Books

Ever since childhood, Susan Olding has been a big reader, never without a book on the go. Not surprising, then, that she turns to the library to read her own life. From the dissolu­tion of her marriage to the forging of a tentative relationship with her new partner’s daughter, from discovering Toronto as a young undergrad to, years later, watching her mother slowly go blind: through every experience, Olding crafts exquisite, searingly honest essays about what it means to be human, to be a woman — and to be a reader.

In these essays, as master librarian Lawrence Clark Powell once wrote, we can “slip into the time-stream which flows from past, to present, to future, and back again.” Big Reader is a brilliant, achingly beautiful collection about the slipperiness of memory and identity, the enduring legacy of loss, and the nuanced disappointments and joys of a reading life.

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