What do you wish you could tell your 10-year-old self?
A good many things, but most emphatically I would tell myself to not listen to the comments about being too smart or showing off by using big words or being too curious. I have always enjoyed learning about new things and sharing what I’ve learned. I love discussing ideas and unknown-to-me corners of the world and people who have accomplished great things and shown great imagination. In hindsight, my 10-year-old self would have found more joy in school and in life without accepting those limitations. “To thine own self be true” is something I’ve learned to live by, but it’s taken many years.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?
Start my own business in partnership with my husband. There’s the working-with-your-husband aspect twenty-four/seven, which I’m happy to say has been rewarding and enlivening. Being in business (which was always anathema to me when I was in my teens and twenties—I may have coined the term “suits”) has been a process of continually reinventing ourselves, keeping ahead of the changes in a rapidly globalizing world, and learning every single day. Most of all, it’s been the kind of challenge I’ve needed for the past 27 years.
From what public library did you get your first card?
The Rice Lake Public Library in Rice Lake, Wisconsin. I was ten. I could ride my bike there during the summers when I visited my grandparents. They gave me a wicker bike basket for my birthday in June. I rode to the library every other day and filled up that basket with new treasures. It was a Carnegie library, upon a hill, with the adult collection upstairs and the children’s collection downstairs. We weren’t allowed to go upstairs. Who knows what trouble we might have gotten into!
Did your elementary school have a librarian?
I adored my elementary school librarian at Ethel Baston in Saint Louis Park, Minnesota. I don’t think I ever knew her name. Is that possible? She always had a new book to recommend when I ran out of steam. I remember reading the Boxcar Children books, racing through the mysteries, and the Landmark History books. When I’d finished all of them, she had wonderful new suggestions. In sixth grade, our librarian and my teacher, Mr. Gordon Rausch, cooked up a scavenger hunt in the library, asking us all kinds of questions that could only be found in specific books in that library. It was one of the most thrilling things I’ve ever participated in. Then and there, I decided that I would become a librarian, too. I’m not but I do have a minor in library science.
What’s on your nightstand?
My Kindle. A clock radio that plays internet stations. It’s on all night, playing jazz or classical music. A beautiful coral rose that a friend brought me today. Samurai Rising, a new book by Pamela S. Turner and Gareth Hinds. The Most Important Thing by Avi. Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman. I’m a very lucky woman—I have to read for my job!