Reading with the Stars: A Celebration of Books and Libraries

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  • Table of Contents
  • About the Author
  • Reviews

American Libraries editor in chief Leonard Kniffel offers a compelling collection of interviews with prominent figures--all of whom have special connections to libraries. From President Barack Obama to actress Julie Andrews; from basketball star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to former First Lady and librarian Laura Bush and many others, stars of literature, politics, entertainment, and the public arena speak with Kniffel about the ways libraries have been critical in their lives. Other highlights of this delightful volume

  • TV icon Oprah Winfrey talks about library books as "her pass to personal freedom"
  • Hard-boiled wordsmith David Mamet claims the public library as his "alma mater"
  • Software mogul Bill Gates discusses his groundbreaking library computerization project and why he feels libraries are an important focus of his investment
  • Former Vice President Al Gore addresses the "information ecosystem," including how libraries contribute to the informed citizenry that's required to manage today's challenges

With plenty to engage library advocates as well as casual readers, Reading with the Stars offers proof positive that libraries and librarians continue to perform vital services and hold a place of honor.


one Barack Obama:

Bound to the World

two Julie Andrews:

Music to Her Ears

three Bill Gates:

Take Me to Your Reader

four David Mamet:

Getting an Education

five Laura Bush:

First Librarian

six Ken Burns:

Archiving America

seven Kareem Abdul-Jabbar:

From Hoops to Ink

eight Cokie Roberts:

A Sense of Our Future

nine Ron Reagan:

Along Party Lines

ten Garrison Keillor:

The Internet Is a Swamp

eleven Ralph Nader:

Rallying Readers

twelve Jamie Lee Curtis:

A Connection to Learning

thirteen Al Gore:

The Planet in the Balance

fourteen Oprah Winfrey:

Reading for Life

Leonard Kniffel

Leonard Kniffel is a publishing executive for the American Library Association in Chicago. He was editor-in-chief of American Libraries magazine from 1996 to 2011 and worked as a librarian for 18 years at the Detroit Public Library. He is also the author of A Polish Son in the Motherland: An American's Journey Home, a travel memoir.

"For 15 years the ALA's Kniffel (A Polish Son in the Motherland) edited American Libraries, the source for this pleasing compilation of speeches, essays, and interviews illustrating the importance of reading. The 14 contributors include Barack Obama, Laura Bush, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Julie Andrews, Ken Burns, and Garrison Keillor. Oprah Winfrey recalls, 'Getting my library card was like... American citizenship.' Laura Bush discusses how her Foundation for America's Libraries helped Gulf Coast schools rebuild libraries destroyed by Katrina. Bill Gates says his $180 million investment in computerizing libraries has created synergy, 'The people who came for the computers use the books. The people who came for the books use the computers.' Recalling a government plan to use bookstore records to see who was reading what, David Mamet describes how a Vermont bookstore owner burned his files. 'This, to me, was a profound and courageous statement, for when and if the government controls what we can read, America, as we have known it, is finished.' Contributors offer lists of book recommendations for adults and children."
--Publisher's Weekly

"Because politicians are included in the mix, and politicians are ever mindful of their images, you might expect the book to be nothing but boring bromides: Books are great, reading is important. Yet there are surprises here, along with insights."
--Chicago Tribune

"Knowledge is power, and there are fewer roads quicker to knowledge than books ... an excellent addition to any community or school library collection, the better to encourage literacy and further reading from young people."
--Midwest Book Review