Laura Bush warns of perils of not reading

March 5, 2008 12:01:14 PM PST
In brief remarks Wednesday to publishing executives, first lady Laura Bush called books her "greatest love affair" and warned that a "nation that does not read for itself cannot think for itself."

Bush, a former librarian whose advocacy of books and literacy have long made her popular in the publishing industry, cited such fictional characters as the Brothers Karamazov and "an intriguing man named Gatsby" and worried that many Americans had never heard of them.

"A nation that does not read for itself cannot think for itself and a nation that cannot think for itself risks losing both its identity and its freedom," said Bush, who called the passion for reading "learned behavior that should be taught at home and at schools."

Bush spoke at the annual meeting of the Association of American Publishers, held at the Yale Club in midtown Manhattan. The first lady and daughter Jenna Bush have co-authored a children's book, "Read All About It!". It will be published in April by HarperCollins.