Jenn Beideman is the Advocacy Manager at Common Ground Health in Rochester, NY. Jenn provides expertise on advocacy opportunities to advance whole child health in the region. A Canadian native, Jenn brings to the position more than a decade of experience in policy research and government relations from a variety of settings. She currently leads several campaigns across the City of Rochester that advocate for play, child-centered placemaking and whole child health. Prior to joining the organization, Jenn worked at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in Toronto, Canada where she provided procedural research and policy support to several Standing Committees of the House, and World Vision Canada. She is currently the Vice President of the Board of Directors for the Child Care Council and a member of the PlayMakers, the Strong Museum of Play’s Young Professional Board. Jenn holds an M.P.A from SUNY Brockport and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto. Jenn is a proud City of Rochester Resident where she lives with her husband in the North Winton neighborhood.
Write a one-sentence description of yourself as a Reader.
I’m a juggler and physical book snob. I love reading multiple books at once – throughout my house you’ll see piles of things I’m part way through in every type of genre. I always like to keep things interesting and so variety is key to that!
What are you reading right now?
I’m currently reading
- The Deepest Well by Dr. Nadine Burke Harris,
- There There by Tommy Orange,
- How to be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
- The Testaments by Margaret Atwood
The desert island question – What 5 books would you have to have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
- The Princess Bride by William Goldman
- A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan
- Pilgrim by Timothy Findley
- Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
- The Harry Potter series (I know, that’s more than 5!)
Are you a finisher? In other words, are you compelled to finish a book even if you hate it? What are some books that you’ve had to force yourself to finish, or which you’ve bailed on?
I really do want to finish most of the books I read, but there’s been a few that I’ve bailed on. This includes:
- Anything by JR Tolkien
- Poorly written autobiographies
- The Goldfinch (I can’t stand to read very long run on stories).
Do you ever read the end of a book first? Why or why not?
What is at the top of your To Be Read pile?
- Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
- The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
- The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead
Who is your go-to author when someone asks you for a recommendation?
Yikes – it would depend on what they’d like to read. I’d want to learn more about their interests first. I typically try to refer people to Canadian authors – mostly because they don’t get the credit they deserve here. That being said, lately I’ve been recommending to everyone read Exit West by Mohsin Hamid because it’s so beautiful.
Would you rather be your favorite author or your favorite character?
Favourite author for sure – I know their lives aren’t super glamourous but the thought of being able to drink tea and write all day seems lovely.
What book do you wish you’d never read?
The Twilight series – blargh!
Has any book defined your life, as in you would be a different person if you hadn’t read it?
We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families by Phillip Gourevitch
I remember reading this in my fourth year political science class, it had a profound impact on me and it transformed the way I thought about social justice in the world. It catapulted by desire to get involved in and learn more about government systems, advocacy and social justice movements. Without this book, I don’t think I’d have the career I do now.
Book or movie? Is there a movie that you think was better than the book?
Book – always the book.
If you were to get a bookish tattoo, what would it be?
It would mostly likely be a quote like “be the change” by Gandhi or “Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light” by J.K. Rowling.
Share a favorite quote from a book you’ve read. Why is it meaningful to you?
The same as above – both really demonstrate that we can be agents of change in our own lives, and that even when times get hard or tough, there’s always a way to move forward. Progress isn’t easy – it’s tough, messy and not always straightforward, but we keep moving forward because it’s what’s right.
What book are you recommending that everyone read right now?
Exit West or Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Does reading influence your decision-making process?
Definitely! Whenever I make decisions I want to know all the facts, which requires me to dig deep and learn different perspectives. Reading is so wonderful and helps me do all of those things.
Why do you read?
It’s fun, and allows me to learn about new perspectives, ideas, and research. It also opens up a whole new world of possibilities and story lines.