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Cover to Cover: The reading life of Susan Jevens
Susan Jevens
Susan Jevens is an associate public relations manager for American Girl. A Madison native, Jevens has lived in Monroe for over 10 years. When she's not spending time with her boyfriend, Ken, and her dog Waylon, or playing guitar as a member of The Wekons, Jevens serves on the Monroe Public Library Board of Trustees.

What are you reading right now?

I'm reading a book by Kristin Hannah called, "The Nightingale." It's set in German-occupied France during World War II. It follows two sisters who have very different experiences in the war. It's been really compelling. I actually find myself really gravitating toward historical fiction focused on that time period. I'm just a couple chapters into it and getting the lay of the land in terms of what the characters are dealing with. I'm excited to read the rest of the story.

I'm also listening to the "Outlander series," by Diana Gabaldon. With the television show on now, I've been prompted to go back and listen to it again during my work commute. The story is really compelling - she does an amazing job of really bring in those historical details of the time period, 16th century Scotland. There are some real-life characters in the books, and I'm trying to learn more about their stories and what their experiences were during that time.

Is there a book that inspires you?

I think one of the books that really inspired me growing up and sticks with me to this day is "The Diary of Anne Frank." I think when I was younger, reading about a girl who was probably around my own age and her experiences and what a difficult circumstance it was; that was interesting in and of itself. One of the themes that came out of that book for me, which I feel I've been gravitated since then is the whole idea of making something good out of a really horrific experience. Obviously, what her and her family went through was horrific. Yet, there was a light that's shown from her story - the message that she was able to convey in her diary and how that transcended her death and made her able share that message with so many people throughout the ages since the diary was written.

What was your favorite book growing up?

I loved the book, "Corduroy." It's the story of this cute little teddy bear that wanted to find a home and finds one with a young girl and she takes care of him. I love the pictures of that book, and the whole story.

I also read a lot of Dr. Seuss books. One of my favorite Dr. Seuss' is "The Sneetches." As an older person looking back at some of the things that I gravitated toward, it feels like there's always this idea of justice versus injustice, fairness versus unfairness. The whole story with one group saying that, "We're better because we're wearing the star," and then how it just changes places. The whole idea, I just thought that was really interesting at the time, and now I can look at it in a different way as I'm growing older.

My mom was an avid reader and shared books with me a lot while I was growing up. That was just one of those things that I absolutely love doing, sitting down with her and reading.

If you could be a character in a book that you've read, who would it be?

I would say Hermione Granger from the "Harry Potter" series. I love her and the fact that she's such a strong character herself. She's really smart and advocates for social justice; she's looking out for Harry and Ron. She's the moral compass of the series. I think that I just really gravitated to her character. It's always nice to have really strong female characters.

Has there been a book that you've been disappointed in?

One that I've read fairly recently called, "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern. It was a popular book. I actually got quite a bit into it, probably about halfway through the book. At some point, I just said, "I don't really care about these characters." When I read, I should care about these people and what is happening in the world that the author has created. The premise was really interesting, but for some reason I just lost interest and put it aside.

One of the books that I really struggled to start was the first book in the "Harry Potter" series. I really had to suspend my disbelief for some reason for that one. I started it and stopped. I tried it again, given how popular it was. I got completely immersed. I'm glad I didn't give up on that one.

If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one book, what would it be?

"The Norton Anthology of Children's Literature." It's a compilation of nursery rhymes, children's moral tales, fiction, and other stories. It's over 2,000 pages. I haven't read it yet. I think this would be a good one for me to take because it's got a nice hard cover box for it so it would keep it protected. I think I would enjoy just being able to delve into all these different authors that people haven't read yet. I really like both children's and young adult literature. It has fairy talks, primers of readers, animal fables, science fiction, H.G. Wells, Carl Sandburg, poetry, comics - just about everything.

Anything else you'd like to mention?

I think we've covered a lot of things. I have been really fortunate, I think, to grow up loving books. Going to school and then my career, ever since I've I had a working life, it's had something to do with books, which I've been really fortunate with. I think reading is going to be something that I will always gravitate towards. It's something I'm always going to be very excited about, promoting books.

Editor's Note: Cover to Cover will become a twice-monthly podcast beginning in January. Hear full interviews and lots of lively discussion about the reading life.

- Cover to Cover is provided by the Monroe Public Library and is published the fourth Wednesday of the month.