Mae Keller is a retired psychologist who worked in therapeutic, forensic, and administrative roles in healthcare and higher education. She has written short pieces with a mix of fiction, memoir, and history, and recently published a book about her pioneer forbears in the Leelanau area, The Farrants of Glen Haven and Empire: A Story Restored, in collaboration with Kay Bond, also a Farrant descendent, and Andrew White, a local historian.
On your nightstand now: I recently finished John La Carre’s Silverview—I had never read him before. Also, Feline Philosophy: Cats and the Meaning of Life, and The Frozen Echo, about the early Norse voyages to North America.
Favorite book when you were a child: It’s a tie: Black Beauty and Beautiful Joe, one horse story, one dog.
Your top five authors: many books, but these are the authors whose works I love in their entirety: Alistair MacLeod, Janet Lewis, Hilary Mantel, Patricia Hampl, and Sigurd Undset.
Book you’ve faked reading: Ulysses, when I was younger.
Book you’re an evangelist for: Beautiful Ruins, by Jess Walter. My husband and I don’t always read the same sorts of things, but we both loved this book, and always recommend it to other people. It’s a book about all of life, with a visit to the movie set of Cleopatra in the 1950s and a deep dive into the story of the Donner party.
Book you’ve bought for the cover: The Cave at Lascaux, documenting the images before the cave was closed.
Book you hid from your parents: Given my age and its date of publication, I have to say Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex, but Were Afraid to Ask.
Book that changed your life: Any books have changed me, but I’ll choose MS 188, a manuscript that I was privileged to work with during a two-week course a few years ago at Western Michigan in medieval books. The sight and touch and smell of something so old and so singular was magical. For something related that’s actually in print, there’s Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts, by Christopher De Hamel.
Favorite line from a book: Nothing I can think of seems to do well, plucked from its context. So I’ll pick a quote by D. W. Winnicott, an early child psychologist: “It is a joy to be hidden, and a disaster not to be found.” Something about that speaks to the joys of reading.
Five books you’ll never part with: A lifespan approach: Shadow Castle, from childhood, and The Seagulls Woke Me, from adolescence. As a young adult: The Last of the Just. More recent years: Station Eleven and No Great Mischief.
Book you most want to read again for the first time: One Hundred Years of Solitude, by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.