“One of the many gifts that books give readers is a connection to each other. When we share an affection for a writer, an author or a story, we also have a better understanding of people unlike ourselves. Books cultivate empathy”
Sarah Jessica Parker
“Fiction can show you a different world. It can take you somewhere you’ve never been. Once you’ve visited other worlds, like those who ate fairy fruit, you can never be entirely content with the world that you grew up in. Discontent is a good thing: discontented people can modify and improve their worlds, leave them better, leave them different.”
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Ms. Spencer grew up on a hobby farm, five miles outside a small prairie town. Her mother and father were teachers. Sitting in his recliner, under the dim light of a floor lamp, with a pillow and a book on his lap, her dad shared his passion for speaking, writing, tv shows and reading. Cranking the stereo and bopping across the living room to one of her favourite tunes, her mom passed on her love of picture books, poetry, letter writing and songs. Ms. Spencer lived five miles from town, there was no internet and her television only had three channels. She leaned hard on books, magazines, music, radio and movies for joy, adventure and connection.
“Reading is a way for me to expand my mind, open my eyes, and fill up my heart.”
“I wouldn’t be a songwriter if it wasn’t for books that I loved as a kid. I think that when you can escape into a book it trains your imagination to think big and to think that more can exist than what you see.”
Today Ms. Spencer lives in the smalltown-esque neighbourhood of Wildwood Park, with her spouse, their two children, their dog and cat. Everyone in their house loves stories. There are audiobooks, podcasts, songs, video games, movies, tv shows, radio and board games playing at all hours of the day. There are stacks of books piled in every room. Sharing stories with the ones she loves breathes life into them and deepens their meaning to Ms. Spencer.
There have been seasons in her life when writing, or reading, or both, took a backseat. At times Ms. Spencer feared they had gone from her forever. In these moments, a coworker would inevitably recommend a book to read, her grandpa might send her a lovely letter, or she would receive an email from a distressed friend, and in the practice of reading and the practice of writing, she would become a reader or writer again.
Ms. Spencer’s practice has also morphed many times over the years. When she first began dating, her spouse lived hours away, so they wrote hundreds upon hundreds of emails to each other. While enrolled in university English courses, she read thousands of pages, so she could write hundreds of papers. Within her design degree, she collaged and synthesized words, photographs, drawings and models. For the three years she lived in Winnipeg and her partner lived in Vancouver, their relationship was maintained almost solely by late night conversations on the phone. Through her struggles with depression and anxiety, she depended on journaling to process her thoughts and feelings, and come out the other side. As a stay-at-home mother when her kids were small, she read dozens of picture books daily, she made up silly songs to entertain them, and became an adept storyteller as nearly a matter of survival. In daily work communications, she developed the skills of clarity and brevity. Over the last few years, she has read to better understand and support the lives and perspectives of folks from other ways of knowing and being than her own. As a privileged, white, cis-gender, heterosexual, able-bodied woman, Ms. Spencer is responsible to use her words for greater equity, diversity and inclusion. It is her intention that all her choices reflect this value. Check out her library as an example of what this looks like.