How can you live through tragedy, yet still love life? ‘Despite all the horrible things she lived and saw, she remained a gracious woman’

Nancy Chrétien was the president of the board of the Lennoxville Library for some four-and-a-half years, and ended her term about a year ago. But when it comes to the library, she’s a lifer!

So, when’s the last time she popped in?

“Ha, ha, ha! You are so funny! Do you really think I have time to get down to the library to borrow a book?”


Chrétien’s still reading, but not in the same way.  She’s overwhelmed – in a good way, in a challenging herself way – by her textbooks. Like The Jossey-Bass Reader On Educational Leadership, a classroom text; the  Lennoxville Library doesn’t have it.

While still holding a full-time job, Chrétien has gone back to school. She’s working on a Master’s degree in Leadership at Bishop’s University.

“I am quite enjoying most of the readings. They are very relevant to what I am experiencing at work these days. Leadership is what I am interested in. I want to understand what makes a leader successful and how this can impact the motivation of others to perform or follow.”

Chrétien has spent some six years in various leadership positions at the library, for example, as a volunteer, sitting on the board, working with a mix of volunteers and paid staff. It was just the right combo to whet her appetite for more. So she went back to school.

But years before that, she read. There were many, many books along the way.

The first one to truly impact her thinking was The Diary Of A Young Girl, by Anne Frank, read when Chrétien was young (it’s at C-226 on Lennoxville Library shelves). Anne Frank, of course, was a Jewish girl who hid from the Nazis with her family.

Chrétien found the story to be deeply affecting. “War always scared me. I hated having to watch historical movies about war. The explicit scenes were very disturbing to me.

“What I appreciated about the book is that it allowed me to focus on the characters and less on the gruesome scenes. So reading books about the war was oddly easier for me to digest… I have always been fascinated by how life experiences shape a person and how a person could live through such tragic times and yet not be totally destroyed. What makes one Holocaust survivor love people and life itself while another would be so bitter or even regret being alive.”

Anne Frank was eventually betrayed, likely by a friend, and died in a concentration camp.

Discovered after World War II in the attic in which Frank and her family hid, the pages of the diary were edited by her father, the only family member who survived. It was first published in the Netherlands in 1947.

The young girl, who grows into a young woman as she writes, continues to impact Chrétien’s thinking. “I admired Anne Frank… she was so brave. Shortly after reading the book, I met a Polish Holocaust survivor and she shared her story of living in a camp. She had the tattoo on her arm. She shared her horror stories of being a prisoner during the war. Despite all the horrible things she lived and saw, she remained a gracious woman, who was so thankful to be free and alive.

“So, when I think I have had a bad day, I reflect on the Anne Franks of this world and am thankful for all I have.”

Chrétien went on to read many more books, of course. “I have read novels, suspense, auto/biographies, self-help. I have read on occasion a historical novel. It really comes down to, ‘Am I interested in the subject or topic?,’ ‘Can I relate to this?’, or ‘Is this something I need to know?’ I really don’t have one particular genre, I just like to jump around depending on my mood.”

One of the last books she recalls signing out of the library was a John Grisham thriller. “I went on a John Grisham spree for a while. It seems when I find an author or writing style I like, I binge read.” (Grisham’s legal thrillers are in Adult Fiction, in Large Print and in Audio; he’s also written Young Adult thrillers and sports novels – and check our DVD collection for the films based on his books.)

Over the school year, Chrétien didn’t need the library. She has a wish list, though: “I do want to read I Am Malala, so maybe that can be a summer read for me.  Until then, I am resigned to Robert’s Rules of Order, government regulations and academic writings on leadership!”

Malala Yousafzai’s book, about surviving a vicious attack by the Taliban because she dared to want an education, is in Biography, at 920.93.

As classes end and Chrétien catches up on her paid work, she’ll soon have (a bit of) time to read for fun again. When she does, the Lennoxville Library will be there.

— Eleanor Brown, July 8, 2016


About BiblioLennLibrary

The Lennoxville Library, in Quebec's Eastern Townships, offers free memberships to all residents of Sherbrooke. We have a great selection of books in French and English, plus books on tape and CD, too! Check out our large-print section, our graphic novels... La Biblio Lennoxville se situe dans les Cantons-de-l'Est du Quebec. Les residents de Sherbrooke peuvent devenir membre gratuitement. Nous avons une grande selection de livres en francais et en anglais. Venez donc nous voir! Hours/Heures d'ouverture: Mardi-Tuesday, 10am to 5pm -- 10h a 17h Mercredi et Jeudi -Wednesday and Thursday, 10am to 6pm -- 10h a 18h Vendredi-Friday, 10am to 5pm -- 10h a 17h Samedi-Saturday, 11am to 4pm -- 11h a 16h Pour plus d'info, vous pouvez nous trouver au Click on the above to get to our website!
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