Meet the May Reader of the Month: Susan Henricks
I am the soon-to-be-retired director of Carnegie-Stout Public Library, a position I’ve been privileged to hold for over 19 years. I love to research and write. During retirement I am looking forward to research and writing at least one book! If the search for primary material takes me on a journey, that’s even better as I love to travel!
Q & A:
Q. What is the best book you have read within the last year (or ever)?
A. The best book I’ve read in the past year was Ken Follet’s A Column of Fire, the fourth in his Kingsbridge series. Follet is a masterful storyteller and the books end too soon.
Q. What is your ideal reading environment (location, sound, snacks, etc.)?
A. Have you ever known someone who can sleep anywhere? Literally, anywhere under any conditions? That is how I am when it comes to reading. Although my preference is for no noise interference other than what I create, I will adapt. I do find listening to an audio book while cooking dinner with a glass of wine to be near the top of the list though. I’ve been doing this since “Books-on-Tape.”
Q. What book are you most excited about reading next, and what about it is most exciting?
A. It’s going to be the next book by Ken Follet. I enjoy historical fiction, good storytelling, and the marvelous way Follet strings his sentences together! Although John Jakes’ series are older, they are timeless: The Kent Family Chronicles and the North and South trilogy for example.
Q. What book do you think more people should read, and why do you think they should read it?
A. It was the one I selected for the 2019 All Community Reads, Picking Cotton by Jennifer Thompson, Ronald Cotton with Erin Torneo. This book inspires self-reflection and discussion surrounding many topics: the United States’ criminal justice system, racism, forgiveness and redemption, the power of a deep faith in God, and families and their reaction to trauma in the lives of their loved ones.
Q. What book has been the most challenging for you to read? How did it challenge you?
A. It’s the book I’m reading now, Matterhorn: A Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes. Marlantes is a highly decorated Vietnam combat Marine Corps veteran. Although the book is fiction, you understand that the experience of the Marines in the story was not made up, but based on fact. My husband was a Marine Corps Vietnam combat vet. He rarely spoke of his experience and when he did it was short and matter-of-fact. He mentioned being in the jungle for 30 days at a time and getting immersion (trench) foot. In the book, this condition qualified the soldier to be medevacked. My husband’s reality was he just never took his boots off because he’d never get them back on and that’s about all he ever said about his 30 days in the jungle. Reading this book hits you at a visceral level and once read, the way you view any soldier who served in Vietnam will never be the same. Another reason for the profound impact is the realization that if my husband experienced only half of what the characters in this book experienced he was a walking miracle – I knew little of that side of him. My husband died last year and now I have dozens of questions to ask him about the war he served in and never talked about. The questions will always haunt me.
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. Right away – if I’m not hooked on the first page, it’s good riddance. Never stick with a book that isn’t engaging, or because someone tells you to stick with it because the last third is great. Life is too short to read all the good books – don’t waste time on one that doesn’t grab you right away.