Friday, August 26, 2011

Reading with the Stars

I've been thumbing through a little book I picked up at the library this afternoon.  It's subtitled "A Celebration of Books and Libraries," and is a compilation of the thoughts of a handful of celebrities, politicians, and business people on the importance of reading.  The book is, in fact, called Reading with the Stars and, while it is not something I am particularly interested in reading in detail, there are some interesting items to be gleaned from it.

For instance, several of the participants gave few book recommendations. These are the first choices of some who did:

Bill Gates: The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Sallinger)
Barack Obama: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Mark Twain)
Laura Bush: Ana's Story: A Journey of Hope (Jenna Bush) 
Ron Reagan: Lee and Grant (Gene Smith)
Jamie Lee Curtis: The Diary of a Young Girl (Anne Frank)
Julie Andrews: The Higher Power of Lucky (Susan Patron)

Some of the interviews and highlighted quotes strike me as being particularly pompous and self-serving, but I do like these:
"Getting my library card was like citizenship; it was like American citizenship." - Oprah Winfrey
"I don't think you should have to love to read books that are crappy." - Jamie Lee Curtis
"People don't realize how expensive a whole library collection is.  A basic elementary collection probably costs about $50,000, a start-up collection.  And, of course, a high school library could cost $150,000 or more." - Laura Bush
"The library is, and always has been, our national schoolhouse." - David Mamet
This is an interesting book but it tends to come across as very political at times, very cause-driven.  That is not surprising considering the number of pages given over people like Al Gore, Barack Obama, Ralph Nader, and Ron Reagan.  I know they can't help themselves, but I'm so sick of politics right now that it taints the book's effectiveness for me and is the reason I can't see spending any more time with it.


  1. Sounds like a fun book to look through. Somehow I didn't imagine that Bill Gates would recommend Salinger.

  2. And, browse through it, I did, Kathleen. It's kind of a shame it only took about 20 minutes to do that because I'm sure a whole lot of effort went into this one.

  3. Interesting... I wonder how many of those celebrities actually read the classics they listed as their favorites!

  4. The only one I would feel certain about, Brad, is Laura Bush reading her daughter's book.