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For Immediate Release
Office of Mrs. Bush
October 11, 2002

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at National Book Festival Gala

As delivered.

Thank you, Dr. Billington, for your words -- and many thanks to the Library of Congress for sponsoring the second National Book Festival and hosting this Gala in the world of the world's largest library, as Dr. Billington has just said.

Since the first National Book Festival, hundreds of new poets, novelists, essayists, historians and biographers have charged across America's literary landscape, and our favorite established writers have published a multitude of new titles for our comfort and entertainment. And a good thing, too, because since September 11, we have needed the added comfort of good books to read, and family to read with.

My family loves to read. We give books as gifts, and we barter or badger each other for the books that we want - or want back.

Books are not just for reading - they are for sharing, and talking about. A good book draws us back again - we want to remember the scenes and revisit the characters.

Finishing a good book is like saying good-bye to an old friend; we need support groups for that. That's why book clubs were invented.

When we read our favorite passages aloud to others; when we talk about the characters and the plot, we enrich and prolong the life of the story.

For my family, and for the people in this room, there is nothing more vital than the life of the imagination and the accumulation of knowledge and experience through reading.

Even though our guests are as diverse as the country itself, we are all readers at heart. I am confident that the second National Book Festival will satisfy our craving for the adventures of a good book.

Tonight we open the Festival by having some of our nation's most distinguished writers tell us a few of America's stories.

I am grateful to them for lending their presence and prestige to our enterprise.

I hope you will join us - and the authors - at the Capitol tomorrow for the second National Book Festival. Once again I would like to thank Dr. Billington and the staff at the Library of Congress. Last year you managed to keep this huge collection of authors and readers in perfect order, and I have great faith in a repeat performance tonight.

And now, I have the pleasure of introducing our Emcee. I remember we spent time together one December .just her, and me. and my mother-in-law.

It was campaign season, and it was Cokie's job to interview us both about our husbands.

Let me tell you: If she could keep the two of us on track, then she can certainly steer this program tonight.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you one of America's great commentators and an author in her own right - the talented.Cokie Roberts.

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