Faces of SAL: Leigh Toner
December 9, 2020
We have a few new faces on the SAL Board of Directors to introduce to you over the coming weeks! Most of our board members began their SAL journey the same way you did: as readers and event-goers. Learn about the moments that inspired them to get involved more deeply, what they do, where they come from, and what excites them.
First, meet Leigh Toner!
What was your favorite book as a kid, and why?
Little Women—I wanted to be Jo! Not just as a writer, but also because she was intellectual and independent. I spent a lot of time writing plays and stories with friends. I was also a fan of Alcott’s Little Men and An Old-Fashioned Girl.
Another favorite was The Mad Scientists’ Club. This is about a smart and clever gang of boys’ adventures, like exciting the town by building a radio controlled fire breathing sea monster for the lake. These were fun because they were different from my life.
Before you came to SAL, what were you up to?
When my children were in elementary school, I volunteered in the school library. I loved working with the librarian, listening to her read to the children and talk about books. I loved helping kids find books to check out. There has been a real renaissance in children’s literature, and it was fun to discover and share that with my girls and their classmates.
What has been your favorite SAL event so far?
There are many! Emily St. John Mandel. I think I loved this one because it caught me by surprise. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I was totally captivated by her talk, and loved the complicated things she was thinking about in a post-apocalyptic world, from how things operate to the role of art. During this time of pandemic and social change, my daughter and I have been been discussing the purpose of art in society so I have been thinking about Emily’s lecture more these days.
Also Bryan Stevenson. I brought my husband to this event as a date night. He isn’t a big fiction reader, so I am selective with my SAL invitations. It was the right connection at the right time for him. He read Just Mercy, he gave it to other people, he went to Montgomery and then took his executive leadership team there for an offsite. I think Malcolm Gladwell would call it a tipping point in my husband’s personal journey. 😊
Where are you from?
Columbia, South Carolina.
What’s your ideal Sunday?
Reading the New York Times and the Seattle Times (paper editions!) with lots of coffee and no guilt.
What’s on your desk?
A hand-painted tile place card from a dinner in Lisbon 20 years ago; a jelly jar of pens and pencils; a monogramed letter opener; several notebooks and lots of notes.