May 2009 Archives

Obamas will head up book fest this fall

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Michelle Obama Fort Bragg
First lady Michelle Obama read to schoolchildren
in North Carolina in March.
(Gerry Broome/AP)

President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will preside over the ninth National Book Festival, a daylong celebration of the joys of reading and literacy, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 26, on the National Mall.

"The National Book Festival has become a true American institution," said James Billington, the librarian of Congress. "It is a joyous and very popular celebration of books and reading in the Washington, D.C., area."

The Library of Congress organizes and sponsors the event, which is free and open to the public.

An estimated 120,000 people have attended each of the past two festivals, a library spokeswoman said.

Former first lady Laura Bush, a retired teacher and public school librarian, started the festival in 2001, modeling it after events she held as first lady of Texas.

This year's festival will feature about 70 award-winning authors, poets and illustrators in pavilions dedicated to specific genres of writing, ranging from history and biography to mysteries, thrillers, poetry and prose, and books for families and youngsters.

Since becoming first lady in January, Mrs. Obama has made several trips outside the White House to read to young children.


Summer reading challenge for kids

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Borders has issued a Summer Reading Challenge to keep kids reading throughout the warm summer months. From now until Aug. 31, children 12 and younger can read any eight books of their choosing, tell Borders what they've read, and when they've completed the challenge they can choose from a selection of books priced at 50 percent or more off the regular price.

If you can't come up with eight titles, Borders also has assembled a list of recommendations:

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (birth to 3)
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle (birth to 3)
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak (ages 3-6)
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss (ages 3-6)
Horrid Henry by Francesca Simon (ages 7-9)
Ivy & Bean by Annie Barrows (ages 7-9)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid #3: The Last Straw by Jeff Kinney (ages 8-12)
Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume (ages 8-12)
Percy Jackson #5: The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan (ages 8-12)

Last-minute Mother's Day gift ideas

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Reichl Bittersweet True Married Love

From the Book Room ... a stack of mother-related books that might say a little more than your average Hallmark card:

Not Becoming My Mother (Penguin, 112 pages, $19.95) by Ruth Reichl. Former restaurant critic Reichl set out to learn more about her mother after her death, and through reading old letters and diaries finds out she never really knew her at all. Publisher's Weekly, which gave the book a starred review, had this to say: "The slender size of Reichl's memoir of her late mother's life belies a powerful tale... Reichl has created a masterful portrait of a mother-daughter relationship that will resonate with readers across generations."

Bittersweet: Lessons From My Mother's Kitchen (Random House, 214 pages, $25) by Matt McAllester. The author, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who left home and traveled the world after years of dealing with his once loving and quick-witted mother's mental illness, went on a culinary adventure via his mother's cookbooks after she died.

True Mom Confessions: Real Moms Get Real (Berkley, 266 pages, $14) by Romi Lassally and the creators of Anonymous confessions pour in daily to this Web site and now the author has pooled the best (worst?) and put it in book form. Some are sad, some happy, some poignant, and many are laugh-out-loud hilarious. Example: "Last night my son threw his pacifier. I was tired and frustrated and said, 'We don't throw things!' And then I threw it at him."

OK, here's another one: "Before I moved into a new area I had a tummy tuck and breast implants. All my new friends think I look this good because I work out! I've never told them my secret because I know they'll talk behind my back!"

OK, one more: "I never thought I'd say... Don't pee on your brother in the living room ... We don't lick bricks, honey... Stop pulling your brother's penis... One day you'll LIKE having testicles."

When I Married My Mother: A Daughter's Search for What Really Matters -- and How She Found It Caring for Mama Jo (Da Capo, 292 pages, $25) by Jo Maeder. The author, a former New York City disc jockey, left her fast-paced city life and headed south to care for her ailing, estranged mother. Maeder's memoir recounts the challenging transition and the following years spent pulling together her fractured family.

Love, Mom: Poignant, Goofy, Brilliant Messages From Home (Hyperion, 247 pages, $17.99) by Doree Shafrir and Jessica Cross. If you have a techno-challenged mom or one who thinks she's savvy but is kidding herself, you can both have a laugh reading these e-mails, texts and IMs from moms everywhere, collected here in this square-shaped volume by the creators of

Book: Caroline Kennedy was angry

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Caroline Kennedy

A new book paints a picture of an intense, angry Caroline Kennedy bent on extending her family's legacy in the U.S. Senate only to end her quest when her kids no longer recognized their cool, composed mother.

The book is by Edward Klein, a best-seller who's been accused of using of hearsay in other biographies. (His last book was Katie: The Real Story, about Katie Couric.)

Ted Kennedy: The Dream That Never Dies (Crown, 272 pages, $26) is being excerpted in Vanity Fair. It states Caroline Kennedy told New York Gov. David Paterson she was withdrawing from consideration for the Senate seat because her kids and husband felt she was becoming a different person.

The book also says she was angry when Paterson didn't immediately name her to succeed Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Senate.

Kennedy spokesmen declined to comment Tuesday.


The Obama touch

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The Obama book bump has struck again.

President Obama told The New York Times during a recent interview that he has been reading Joseph O'Neill's Netherland, a highly praised novel about cricket, marriage and living in a post 9/11 world.

The hardcover came out last year and the paperback publisher, Vintage/Anchor Books, citing an Obama-cized double-digit increase in sales, announced Monday it has moved up the paperback release from June 2 to this week (May 7).

The first printing will be 70,000 copies.


The other Sedaris

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Books Amy Sedaris
Amy Sedaris (AP photo)

Amy Sedaris -- comic actress and sister of literary humorist David Sedaris -- is working on a follow-up to her best seller, I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence (which is hilarious and a great gift idea for your fun-loving friends).

The new book is scheduled for release in 2010 and will again feature Sedaris' unique approach to home life through the use of fun, long-forgotten crafts," according to Grand Central Publishing.