Meet the C-SPL June 2023 Reader of the Month: Kelly Larson!
About Reader of the Month Kelly:
In 2021, I ‘retired’ from a 22-year career as the Director of Human Rights for the City of Dubuque. Now I am in Learning & Development. Reading, writing, and crafting of various sorts (card making, scrapbooking, nature photography, loom knitting, jewelry making—none of which I’m particularly good at) are my hobbies.
I start and end my day reading. In the morning, I often read books on philosophy, spirituality or poetry. In the evening, I prefer a good memoir or a variety of fiction, from historical to fantasy to romance to mysteries. I’ve read just about everything written by John Steinbeck, Malcolm Gladwell, John Irving, the Dalai Lama, Parker Palmer, Diana Gabaldon, Mary Oliver, and David Whyte.
Reader of the Month Q & A:
Q. What book(s) are you currently reading?
A. “Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver and “Positivity 101” by Barbara Fredrickson—this after I just finished “The Antidote: Happiness for People who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking” by Oliver Burkeman.
Q. What is the best book you have read within the last year (or ever)?
A. This is hard, because if I’m invested in a book, then I often feel like it’s the best one at that moment! “East of Eden” is one of those books that I remember the feeling of, it was so real and so human. And “Thou Mayest” also stuck with me. “Man’s Search for Meaning” is one I read and reread because it reminds me of our capacity for choice in even the most horrendous circumstances.
Q. What is your ideal reading environment (location, sound, snacks, etc.)?
A. My ideal setting for reading is outside in nature with a cup of coffee or tea and, if he would stay put, my cat Nabu on my lap. In reality, he’s only involved when I’m nestled in my home library recliner.
Q. What book are you most excited about reading next, and what about it is most exciting?
A. I don’t have a book I’m most excited about at the moment. A couple of months back it was Bono’s memoir “Surrender.” The political messaging in U2’s music and Bono’s activism around causes that matter to me have fed my soul for a long time. I loved the book and Brene Brown’s podcast with him, which then sparked me to read Richard Rohr’s “Falling Upward.” Presumably one of the books I’m reading now will spark the next one, that’s kind of how it goes with me.
Q. What book has been the most challenging for you to read? How did it challenge you?
A. For me, it’s more about a certain type of author that is challenging for me. There are at least two types of writers in the spirituality/philosophy/religion world: seekers and true believers. Anything written in the voice of a true believer challenges me because I have to interrupt my emotional reaction to the righteous certainty in their voice before I can see the deeper (and inevitably more complex and paradoxical) truths.
Q. When do you decide to stop reading a book? In other words, do you read every book to the last page, or is there a moment when you decide to stop?
A. If a book doesn’t hook me by chapter three, I stop. I may shelve it and return to it later in a different mood or I may give it away.
Q. Do you remember when your love for reading began?
A. My mom was a reader and she protected my deep desire to ‘do nothing’ and read. When I think back to long, hot summer days on the farm, my fondest memories are of us making the weekly trek to the parish church for the bookmobile parked out front just waiting for me to pick out my six books for the week. I think that may have been a more significant act of devotion for the two of us than mass ever was.