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Literary Collections Essays

Big Reader


by (author) Susan Olding

Freehand Books
Initial publish date
May 2021
Essays, Personal Memoirs
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    May 2021
    List Price
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    May 2021
    List Price

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A book about memory, loss, and a love of books from one of Canada's finest essayists

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.

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.

About the author

Susan Olding was named one of The New Quarterlyâ??s â??Most Loved Living Writersâ? alongside authors including Margaret Atwood and Alice Munro. Her poetry and prose have appeared widely in literary journals and anthologies across Canada and the United States. She has been a finalist for a National Magazine Award, two Western Magazine Awards, and a CBC Literary Award; she is also a two-time winner of the Event Creative Non-fiction Contest and a winner of the Prairie Fire Non-fiction Contest. Susan earned a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Education from Queenâ??s University, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She has been a frequent contributor to several discussion groups, workshops, and web resources for adoptive parents. Her work has also appeared in numerous anthologies. Susan Olding currently lives with her family in Kingston, Ontario.

Susan Olding's profile page

Editorial Reviews

"Susan Olding's essays in Big Reader are soaring, searing love letters to the reading life. Profound, intimate, and breathtakingly beautiful." - Helen Humphreys, author of Rabbit Foot Bill

"Big Reader is a perfect collection of essays, especially for those of us who rediscovered a love of reading during challenging times. As we delve into Olding's life flavored by literature, she becomes that smart friend we adore, in whose company we become our brightest selves." - Brenda Miller, author of An Earlier Life

"If these essays were glass bells and you struck them one by one with your favourite pen, they would ring with the purest, clearest notes, each chapter in its singularity contributing to the gorgeous orchestral music that this book is. Olding has found exactly the right balance between the details of her life and the wide reach of research and obsession. This book pays tribute to what the essay has done in its long and honourable past and what it continues to do in the hands of a remarkable thinker and wordsmith." - Lorna Crozier, author of Through the Garden: A Love Story (with Cats)

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