Librarian booked

Self-proclaimed readaholic sure to bring action to Literary Sojourn

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The Literary Sojourn would have trouble finding a bigger book aficionado than Nancy Pearl to be master of ceremonies.

Pearl is the Seattle librarian who sparked the One Book craze and is author of "Book Lust" and "More Book Lust." She is a self-proclaimed readaholic, Bud Werner Memorial Library Director Chris Painter said, and she has been receiving quite a bit of national attention.

ยค Literary Sojourn When: Sept. 10 Where: Sheraton Steamboat Resort Cost: $75 until Sunday; $85 after The 800 tickets to the all-day event, which includes brunch, usually sell out.

In a rapid rise to fame, Pearl has sparked a librarian action figure in her likeness (it comes with a stack of books and makes a shushing motion at the push of a button), an appearance on NBC's Today Show and a "Book Lust" calendar, which recommends a book for every month.

Pearl reviews books on National Public Radio's Morning Edition and has written books that recommend what to read under diverse categories.

Pearl has been the master of ceremonies at a Seattle book festival, and a friend of Painter's recommended her for Steamboat's event. Almost a year ago, Painter said she contacted Pearl and booked her for the 2005 Literary Sojourn.

"I never thought she would get as much national attention as she is getting. She is like an icon," Painter said.

Pearl started the idea of having one city -- it began with Seattle -- read the same book and discuss that book, an idea that caught on across the country.

Although not intentional, Michelle Dover of Bud Werner Memorial Library said the Literary Sojourn has sparked a community reading program, with many reading the same books before the annual event in September. Having so many people in the community reading the same books leads to a greater sense of being connected.

"It is a bond. A common base of information and something more to talk about other than 'Survivor' on television," Dover said. "You can have in-depth conversations with a stranger."

Painter said in the months leading up to the Literary Sojourn, the library cannot keep the authors' works on the shelf. This year, the library had 150 books from the various authors.

"Every year, we up the stock, the inventory of the authors' books, and every year, we have to expand the offerings."

As in years past, the Literary Sojourn committee selected a diverse group of authors and literary styles.

This year will feature five authors. Among them is Nigerian writer Chris Abani, who was imprisoned three times in his home country before he escaped to London. Now living in the United States, Abani published his first novel, "Graceland," since leaving Nigeria. His two books of poetry about his time as a Nigerian political prisoner won the PEN USA West Freedom to Write Award and the Prince Claus Award.

Ruth Ozeki is an award-winning filmmaker and novelist who published two well-received novels, "My Year of Meats" and "All Over Creation."

A short story writer, novelist, editor and screenwriter, Patrick McGrath is a master of the psychological thriller. He grew up on the grounds of Broadmoor Hospital, Britain's largest top-security mental hospital, where his father was a medical superintendent.

Some of McGrath's books, such as" Spider" and "Asylum," have been adapted into movies.

On the lighter side of literature is Haven Kimmel, from America's Heartland. Kimmel's comic memoir, "A Girl Named Zippy: Growing Up in Mooreland, Indiana," became a New York Times bestseller and "Today Show" Book Club pick. She has worked on two other novels since then, including her latest, "Something Rising (light and swift)."

Gish Jen, author of "The Love Wife," also is speaking at the event. The novelist and short story writer's work examines immigrant families and their hyphenated-American lives.

Although the lineup of authors is planned, what they will talk about is not.

"We very much don't dictate what authors will say. That is part of the wonderful experience, the discovery of what they will discuss," Painter said.

The Literary Sojourn will be held Sept. 10 at Sheraton Steamboat Resort. Tickets are $75 until Sunday, when they go up to $85. The 800 tickets to the all-day event, which includes a brunch, usually sell out.

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