Inheritance Books: Karen Chase

This week, Karen Chase shares her Inheritance Books. She sent such a fabulous photo that I’ve changed the format to fit round it.

(Karen's caption): My favorite photo of me with Grandma Small’s book, reading to my friend’s dog, Lola.
(Karen’s caption): My favorite photo of me with Grandma Small’s book, reading to my friend’s dog, Lola.

Hi Karen, welcome to Inheritance Books. Tell me a bit  about yourself.

I am a writer. A designer. A woman from Canada who moved to Texas, came to Virginia, and started a design business. I now write, hoping to make a good living. I design book trailers, too. I’m in love with an Italian from Jersey who is smart, kind and funny. We have cats. My first book, Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log, is about turning forty in Paris for nearly forty days. But that’s my story. Which story did I inherit? A small one.

Which book did  you inherit from the generation above?

My grandmother loved books. She was not an extroverted woman. She lived alone with my equally introverted uncle for many years. She was my Grandma Small. MobyDick_1

She had been raised in a Chicago: The big, windy city. She spent most of her life in a small town in Canada. My mom was small when Grandma lost her first husband. She later married Harry Small. All the time I knew her, she lived at the end of a small alley. In a small house. With a small garden. Always feeding small, stray cats. And somewhere in the middle of her self-imposed smallness, she fell in love with grand stories.

When we visited her, my brother and I would sit among her books in her small, odd living room. Without fail, each time she would go to the crooked shelves, a handkerchief hooked by her smallest finger, and she would pull out a volume or two.

AnneAndOthers_1“Have you read the Mill on the Floss?” she would ask. “Moby Dick, perhaps?” And once she picked out a cream-colored book, “You like Anne of Green Gables? A redhead. This Anne of Avonlea then.”

Even though she showed us the books, the books never went home with us. We could look at them there, but there they stayed on her small shelves. After both she and my uncle had gone, a few of those grand stories came to me. Anne of Avonlea sits on my mantle. My Grandma Small, in her gruff and small-life way, helped instill in me a desire to read. To write.

She saw a little of me in Anne, of course. There still is. Redheaded. Determined. An edit button that often fails me. And the desire for love. For life. For something bigger than small. So, although I now have her Anne of Avonlea, I feel I need to leave something more. Something bigger. A collection of books both written and read? Yes, of course.

HistoryOfWorld_1But if there is one book in particular I think everyone should own, it is History of the World by J.M. Roberts. It is non-fiction. However, in the middle of all his facts about where we came from, how we moved and where we’ve been, he presents the truth of who we are. We are, and can be, the very thing my Grandma Small loved. Grand stories. With History of the World, I found a big heaping pile of them in one (not quite so small) book.

Thanks for sharing your Inheritace Books with us, Karen. Have a fabulous Christmas and New Year!

Bonjour 40: A Paris Travel Log (40 years. 40 days. 40 seconds.)Karen’s book, Bonjour Pars; a Paris Travelog, is available now.  The print book, with 109 full colour images will be out on Friday  You can find out more about Karen on her website (, Twitter (@karenachase) or Facebook (Karen A Chase, author).

This is the last Inheritance Books for this year. It will be back in January with more favourite books. I’m always on the look out for more contributors, so if you want to share your Inheritance Books, please get in touch.

I hope you all have a lovely Christmas and that 2013 brings you everything you wished for! 

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