Marlene Chan, 71 (Interview on August 16, 2021)
Marlene Chan has been a member of the Atwater Library for about ten years. She attends various activities organized by the library, such as writing and poetry workshops, the Peer Café, information sessions, and lectures. She also participates in the Atwater Literacy Project run by Eric Craven in partnership with various groups, including the Concordia University Fine Arts Department.
Chan is a very eclectic reader. She reads fiction, nonfiction, how-to books, philosophy, psychology, sociology, calligraphy books, art and artists books, books about books, and books about the making of books. Mystery books are one of her favourite fiction genres. To find new books, Chan listens to various programs on CBC Radio and Radio Canada, such as Ideas, The Next Chapter, and The Current.
Chan’s favourite books are Art of the Islands: Celtic, Pictish, Anglo Saxon and Viking Visual Culture, c. 450-1050 by Michelle P. Brown (Oxford: Bodleian Library, University of Oxford, 2016) (from her own collection) and Trace Elements: A Commissario Guido Brunetti Mystery, by Donna Leon (New York: Grove Press, 2021) (from the Atwater Library collection).
In Art of the Islands, Brown presents the landscapes of the archipelago of islands composed of mainland Britain and Ireland from the end of the Roman Empire to the Norman Conquest. Chan read this book when she was doing her master’s thesis in the history of the book. Brown was her supervisor at the University of London. After reading this book, Chan began to value and respect books more. To her, this book and its author have had an impact on her personal life, research life, and writing life, as she became more observant and knowledgeable about history in general, as well as about books and their makers.
In Trace Elements, Leon continues the series of commissario Guido Brunetti, a detective who solves mystery cases in Venice. In this book, Brunetti investigates what is at first perceived as a family tragedy. Chan was introduced to Brunetti stories in 1992 by her neighbour when she was living in Ottawa. For Chan, this series represents a connection with her friend. It also reminds her of the times she visited Venice. According to Chan, the author accurately describes Italian culture and the nation’s lifestyle.