It's been a source of speculation for some weeks now, but yesterday the White House made it official, confirming to the Associated Press that Laura Bush is planning to write a memoir and has been meeting with publishers to discuss the project. Despite the economic downturn, experts are predicting that this will be a significant deal, likely to bring in at least as much as the $8 million Hillary Clinton drew for her memoir "Living History."
In general, memoirs by first ladies sell well – often better than the books by their husbands. In the case of Mrs. Bush, the fact that she has kept her opinions to herself throughout her husband's presidency has only increased public interest. Curtis Sittenfeld's bestselling novel "American Wife," based on the life of Laura Bush, may have served to stoke interest as well.
Bush however, is reported to have said that her book will be a positive one (unlike, the AP notes, "My Turn" by Nancy Reagan which also served to settle score with old foes like former White House chief of staff Donald Regan.)
The American public is well aware of Bush's enthusiasm for books and reading. A librarian by training, she co-founded the Washington, D.C., National Book Festival in 2001 and has celebrated the work of various authors at the White House, including Mark Twain, Willa Cather, Langston Hughes, Flannery O'Connor, and Truman Capote.
As the LA Times notes in a blog yesterday, her own tastes run to the serious. On her website, in addition to listing many recommended books for children, Bush also offers the following reading list for adults:
"Bless Me, Ultima" by Rudolfo A. Anaya
"Music for Chameleons" by Truman Capote
"My Antonia" and "Death Comes to the Archbishop" by Willa Cather
"The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoevsky
"Goodbye to a River" by John Graves
"All the Pretty Horses" by Cormac McCarthy
"Mornings on Horseback" and other biographies by David McCullough
"Beloved" by Toni Morrison
"Ship of Fools" and "The Collected Stories of Katherine Anne Porter" by Katherine Anne Porter
For the LA Times, it prompts a question: "Could a Dostoevskian Bush family saga be in the works?"