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National Book Festival 2011

September 26, 2011

Movie stars!

The Magic Schoolbus!

The Pony Express!

Oh yes, the 2011 National Book Festival had something for everyone, even Abe Lincoln.

WWAR? (What Would Abe Read?)

There’s not actually much to do at the National Book Festival, besides listen to a range of interesting speakers, from celebrities (hello brown-haired Julianne Moore and Kathie Lee Giffords’ partner-in-crime Hoda Kotb) and celebrity writers (Dave Eggers, Tony Morrison, Gregory Maguire, David McCullough). After hearing a few authors speak, I mostly was just in the mood for a good book.

Have any recommendations? I’ve been in a reading slump lately — pick up a book, flip through the pages, get bored. Here’s what I have enjoyed recently:

  • Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions by Ben Mezrich – I have a few friends who swear by Ben Mezrich so this was my first foray into his writing (among his books is The Accidental Billionaires, which inspired The Social Network). This true story grabs you from the first page, introducing you to the world of card counting and gambling. It almost makes you want to pick up and take a trip to Vegas to win your fortune… nevermind any potential hazards along the way.
  • Yossarian Slept Here: When Joseph Heller Was Dad, the Apthorp Was Home, and Life Was a “Catch-22” by Erica Heller – Catch 22 is one of those books I tried reading (for fun) in high school, couldn’t get into and put down seemingly forever. After reading this book, which interested me after reading some of Erica Heller’s HuffPost blogs, I want to try Catch 22 again. If for no other reason, this was a great peek inside the life of a writer and what it’s like to be the child of a successful author.
  • A Cook’s Tour: Global Adventures in Extreme Cuisines by Anthony Bourdain – In my version of ‘My Favorite Things,’ replace ‘ Cream colored ponies and crisp apple streudels’ with ‘travel and Anthony Bourdain and eating lots and lots of food’ — okay, including crisp apple streudels. The point is, this book has all of my favorite things so there’s no reason not to like it, although I’d rather watch Bourdain on TV where you can actually see what he’s eating and not just read about it.
  • Zeitoun by Dave Eggers – Is it a novel? Is it fiction? It’s kind of hard to tell, but it’s some creative amalgam of the two. This account of one family’s (and for much of the book, one man’s) experience in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina will shock you in parts. A little slow to get into, the book picks up speech along with the Hurricane and by 3/4 of the way through, you’re racing from page to page to see how things will turn out. Your heart picks up speed, too, as the action gets more intense — and that part, at least, is 100% real.

So what are you reading? What can you recommend as a good autumn read?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Sarah permalink
    September 26, 2011 8:41 am

    I’m currently reading Finding Chandra: A True Washington Murder Mystery. It is fantastic. I just finished reading the Harry Potter series for the first time on Saturday.

    • September 26, 2011 9:42 am

      First time reading Harry Potter?! Thoughts?

  2. September 26, 2011 9:22 am

    Sounds like such a cool event! Gregory Maguire’s talk must have been so interesting. Did you catch any of his?

    I’m currently in the midst of a reading spree in any spare time I have – thanks to the amazing sales Borders had before going out of business – and just finished a compelling biography about Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz. Can’t wait to start another book today!

    • September 26, 2011 9:43 am

      Didn’t catch Gregory Maguire’s talk, unfortunately. I was only there about an hour — busy weekend! What was the bio you read? Sounds interesting.

      • September 26, 2011 10:35 pm

        It was! Very sad at times, but such a fascinating look at their lives, too. It’s called DESILU: THE STORY OF LUCILLE BALL AND DESI ARNAZ.

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