Big Reader

By (author): Susan Olding

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.


Susan Olding

Susan Olding’s first book, Pathologies: A Life in Essays, was longlisted for the RBC Taylor Prize, won the Creative Nonfiction Collective’s Readers’ Choice Award, and was selected by 49th Shelf and as one of 100 Canadian books to read in a lifetime. A long-time resident of Kingston, Olding currently lives in Victoria.


“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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304 Pages
8.50in * 5.50in * .75in


May 01, 2021


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