Mary Osborne on Attacking Her Books

Shelf Esteem is a weekly measure of the books on the shelves of writers, editors, and other word lovers, as told to Emily M. Keeler. This week’s shelf belongs to Mary Osborne, the Executive Director of the Writers’ Trust of Canada. This year is Osborne’s first with the Writers’ Trust, which administers programs and privately funded literary awards in support of Canadian literature, including the Journey Prize and the lucrative Hilary Weston Prize for Nonfiction—the shortlist for which had just been announced the day before I visited her personal library. Osborne was previously the Managing Director of Shakespeare on the Sound, in Connecticut. Her shelves are in a home office in her apartment in midtown Toronto.

I have my bookshelves kind of hidden away. It’s just the way it worked out in this space. I’ve moved from a big house in Connecticut, which had walls and walls of built-in bookshelves. Here, there’s no obvious extra space. So I ended up taking this room, which used to be a walk-in closet, and making it into my little office. I may be short on space for clothes, but at least I’m able to get a little bit of book space in here.

This is my daughter’s book. The Girl Who Loved Basketball. She’s 19 now, so she’d be horrified. This is the creativity, “her mom said yes.” You’ve got my blonde hair, and her curly brown hair. So that’s another example of holding on to a book for a memory. She’s not much of a baseball fan anymore. Both my kids were here for the film festival the other week. We had a great time. That’s one of the things I feel very lucky about. We’re all in sync on the literary front. Their father is more a math-head, but both my kids like to have books all around. My mother’s the same way. It goes through the generations.

Shelf Esteem runs every Tuesday, usually.

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