A Who's Who of Celebrity Reading
GARDINER, MAINE — VICE President Al Gore said "Mr. Popper's Penguins" was the coolest book he could think of, and Willard Scott still pulls for the "The Little Engine That Could."
But the annual "Who Reads What?" list of celebrities' favorite books also hit on some heavier selections. Tolstoy's "War and Peace" was the favorite of South African President Nelson Mandela, and retired Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf liked Jack London's "White Fang."
For the ninth straight year, silver-haired librarian Glenna Nowell has compiled her unscientific sampling by writing famous people and asking them their all-time favorite books.
The 1996 list provides an odd partisan twist in a big political year: Prominent Republicans, including former President George Bush and House Speaker Newt Gingrich, didn't write back, while Democrats Gore, Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, and Rep. Pat Schroeder of Colorado did.
Mr. Gore said he's read as many books as he could since enjoying "Mr. Popper's Penguins" by Richard and Florence Atwater as a child. Ms. Feinstein chose Arthur Schlesinger Jr.'s "The Disuniting of America" and Ms. Schroeder listed Beatrix Potter's "Peter Rabbit" - along with anything written by humor columnist Dave Barry.
The listing of Caspar Weinberger, a former defense secretary, included "Churchill: The Unruly Giant" by Norman Rose; "Long Sunset" by Anthony Montague Browne; and "The Path to Power" by Margaret Thatcher.
Willard Scott said he has fond memories of his mother reading Watty Piper's "The Little Engine That Could," and adopted the book's philosophy: "I think I can, I think I can."
Ms. Nowell's compilation comes out to coincide with National Library Week, which begins April 14. Librarians use it as a promotion to get people to read more.