The Page Turner Mary Lou Gorno
Photograph courtesy Mary Lou Gorno

Booth by the Book: Mary Lou Gorno

The managing director of Ingenuity International and vice chairman of the University of Chicago Board of Trustees, uncovers her literary life.

Mary Lou Gorno, ’76, managing director of Ingenuity International and vice chairman of the University of Chicago Board of Trustee, reveals what book currently enthralls her, her favorite author, and how reading kicks off her mornings.

What are you reading now?

I just picked up All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. It’s so beautifully written. The protagonists are two children who are engulfed in the horrors of World War II, and there are so many interesting corollaries between what they’re going through. I’m only 50 pages in but I’m just enthralled.

Who are your favorite authors?

My all-time favorite author is John Steinbeck, and I love The Grapes of Wrath. We think about the American dream and those who live it and those who are unfortunately not able to live it. We all have hopes of a better life, but for Steinbeck’s characters, the American dream is elusive. Despite their hard work and their perseverance, they’re unable to realize that dream. I try to pick that book up once a year and at least read two or three chapters.

Who is your favorite literary hero?

Maybe Jane Eyre because she’s so individualistic and passionate. She is a very complex character.

What’s your favorite book?

The Grapes of Wrath.

What is your reading style: Hardcovers, softcovers, tablet, or smartphone?

Hardcovers. I love to hold it. I love to embrace it. I love to pause and go back and capture a few words, but I must hold it. It’s a very important ritual for me to embrace it, and make it part of me. It’s a distance I feel with a tablet or reading it on a smartphone. I can acquire the information electronically, but when I’m reading something that’s important to me, I want to hold it.

Where do you read?

At home is a wonderful, in my study. I try to start every morning with just a few moments of reading about something important. As Frederick Buechner wrote, today is the point from which all of your tomorrows will proceed.

Reading: Pleasure or Business?

It’s both, but the most important is pleasure. It fills my soul.

—By Eva Yusa