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Who is Reading What?
A Celebrity Reading List: 2004


This is the sixteenth annual Who Reads What? list, offering a wide selection of interesting reading: novels, classics, biographies, a play and a children's book. This year we have a duplicate selection. Sutton Foster and Jeri Ryan both like "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving.


Author Laura Lippman makes an interesting comparison between her two selections, Nabokov's "Lolita" and Betty Smith's "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn". Newscaster Brian Williams finds Doris Kearns Goodwin's "No Ordinary Time" to be "especially useful as a way of putting our current culture and lifestyle in perspective." Former British Prime Minister John Major's choice is the excellent Pallister series of six novels by Anthony Trollope.


Gardiner, Maine is a tiny community of 6,198 people. Our library also serves several nearby towns.

The Gardiner Public Library staff and volunteers are pleased to compile this list each year to help promote reading. We hope you will enjoy the selections.



Glenna Nowell,
Editor"Who Reads What?"


James Lee Burke Anne Curry Armory Houghton, Jr. Al Roker
Laura Bush Ken Follett J.A. Jance Jeri Ryan
Billy Collins Sutton Foster Laura Lippman R. L. Stine
Patrick Colwell Jonathan Franzen John Major Tom Wilkinson
Jennifer Crusie Jennifer Granholm Rod Paige Brian Williams




Book(s) and Author(s)


James Lee Burke
Mystery Writer

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The Sound and Fury  

by William Faulkner


Mildred Pierce  

by James Cain


A Streetcar Named Desire

by Tennessee Williams

I believe the best novel in American literature is "The Sound and the Fury" by William Faulkner. I believe the best crime novel may be "Mildred Pierce" by James M. Cain. My favorite play is "Streetcar Named Desire" and I think our most lyrical novelists are John Cheever and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Laura Bush
First Lady

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Ship of Fools and 
Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter

by Katherine Anne Porter


The Brothers Karamazov 

by Fyodor Dostoyevsky



by Toni Morrison


Music for Chameleons 

by Truman Capote 


Goodbye to a River 

by John Graves


Mornings on Horseback and other biographies by David McCullough


Bless me, Ultima 

by Rudolfo Anaya


My Antonia and Death Comes to an Archbishop 

by Willa Cather


All the Pretty Horses 

by Cormac McCarthy

On behalf of Mrs. Bush, I would like to thank you for writing.

We appreciate your request for Mrs. Bush's favorite book. Enclosed is her recommended reading list for all ages.

Mrs. Bush sends her best wishes

Sincerely, Sydney R. Johnson

Directory of Correspondence for Mrs. Bush

Click link for complete booklist including Recommended Family Reading

Billy Collins
U.S. Poet Laureate

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Train by Pete Dexter

With his new novel, Pete Dexter has figured out a new way to write fiction. No introductory set-ups, no scene-setting - just pure unblinking action and always the scent of danger.

Patrick Colwell
Speaker of the Maine House

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The Sot-weed Factor 

by John Barth

I recommend "The Sot-Weed Factor" by John Barth. I've read it four or five times, and am always amazed by its insights and its humor. It's a great American novel. It tells the real story of the origins of our country better than any history book.

Jennifer Crusie

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Feet of Clay 

by Terry Pratchett

My comfort read is Terry Pratchett. It's hard to choose just one, but pretty much anything with Vimes, Susan, or Death does it for me: "Feet of Clay", "The Thief of Time", "Night Watch", "The Truth", "Hogsfather", all of them. And then there's "Small Gods" and "Pyramids" and . . . I really love Terry Pratchett. I have to pick one? "Feet of Clay". It was the first one I read, and I was so amazed by it, I read it all over again the next day.

Ann Curry
NBC News Anchor

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The Once and Future King  by T.H. White.


Ken Follett

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The Tale of the Fierce, Bad Rabbit 

by Beatrix Potter

"The Tale of the Fierce Bad Rabbit" by Beatrix Potter. This is the shortest thriller ever written. In just 142 words it has suspense, crime, gunplay, and retributive justice. I read it to my children when they were small, and now I read it to my grandchildren.

Sutton Foster
Broadway star

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A Prayer for Owen Meany  by John Irving

Incredible author

Incredible story

Jonathan Franzen

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Independent People 

by Halldór Laxness


The Man Who Loved Children 

by Christina Stead

Two under-appreciated twentieth-century masterpieces

Jennifer Granholm
Governor of Michigan

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Profiles in Courage 

by John F. Kennedy


Amory Houghton, Jr.

Congressman from New York

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Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng


J.A. Jance

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Letter from Home 

by Carolyn Hart

My favorite recent book is "Letter from Home" by Carolyn Hart

Laura Lippman

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by Vladimir Nabokov


A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

My favorite books are "Lolita" and "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn".  It's an odd pairing, I admit. In fact, it raises the rather creepy specter of Humbert Humbert spying on Francie Nolan. (Who was, as "Tree's" fans will remember, accosted by a pedophile that Francie's quick-witted mother shot.)

I think "Tree" is a universal novel that doesn't quite get its due because the main character is a girl. And I think "Lolita", too is a universal novel, although we wish it weren't. One is a classic coming-of-age story. The other is a brilliant achievement in style, story and language.  I'd go so far as to call it one of the greatest love stories ever written. The fact that the love at its core is solipsistic and wrong, by almost any society's standards, doesn't make it any less a love story, not in Humbert's mind. That's what makes it such a great book, in part. We are all capable of the obsessions that compel Humbert, and the rationalizations he makes in order to pursue them. We just may not act on them. And most of us certainly cannot write about them as Nabokov did.

John Major
Former British Prime Minister

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The Palliser Novels

by Anthony Trollope

I first read the Palliser novels many years ago and have returned to them again and again. They are a superb depiction of Victorian political life and a delightful read. The characterisation of Phineas Finn, an ambitious, young, Irish politician, and other characters - especially Lady Laura Standish and Madame Max Goesler - are quite outstanding.

Trollope is one of the great storytellers of British literature and the human emotions that lie behind the actions of his Victorian characters are as relevant today as they were when first he wrote them.

Rod Paige
U.S. Secretary of Education

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The Tipping Point 

by Malcolm Gladwell

Good to Great 

by Jim Collins


Al Roker
NBC-TV personality

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Devil in a Blue Dress 

by Walter Mosley 

An African-American noir thriller - It doesn't get any better!

Jeri Ryan

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A Prayer for Owen Meany  by John Irving


R. L. Stine
Children's Author

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Dandelion Wine 

by Ray Bradbury

When I was ten, I discovered the works of Ray Bradbury, and they changed my life. They turned me into a reader. This book is a wonderful recreation of a time and place - small town life that is all but forgotten.

Tom Wilkinson

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The Wisdom of Crocodiles  by Paul Hoffman

The reputations of the masters need no boost from me - so my palm goes to Paul Hoffman's contemporary masterpiece. It's his only book but there's a lot in it.

Brian Williams
NBC Newscaster

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No Ordinary Time 

by Doris Kearns Goodwin

Especially useful as a way of putting our current culture and lifestyle in perspective.



Ex Libris

Please help keep the world's public libraries strong and free.

Librarians work hard to keep current services and stretch to add new sources and data for their patrons. Libraries are an honest deal as charities. 100% of donations and endowments can be used for books or electronic resources. For many more Who Reads What? suggestions and letters from celebrities since 1988, please visit the Gardiner Public Library’s Web site at www.gpl.lib.me.us. If you value reading, please help libraries continue their work. Libraries are still a place where your help can make a difference. Who Reads What? 2004 is funded and distributed by Thomson Gale, a world leader in reference and research publishing.


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Thomson Gale
Attn: Corporate Communications
27500 Drake Road
Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535

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