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LIANE HANSEN, host:

From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

Our summer reading series continues this week with Mimi Valdes. She's editor-in-chief of Vibe magazine and she's also been a commentator for such TV specials as "Black in the '80s," a series that explores the pop culture contributions of African-Americans during the Reagan years.

For reading matter, Mimi Valdes usually prefers to immerse herself in stories that have nothing to do with the hip-hop industry, which her magazine covers each month. But she's recently found some fun hip-hop literature, including "Bling," Erica Kennedy's take on the music business. Valdes breezed through the book with a sizable amount of skepticism.

Ms. MIMI VALDES (Editor-in-chief, Vibe): Because I know that world so well, I found myself very frustrated, like, `Ah, that would never happen,' or `That's such an exaggeration.' So even though I enjoyed the book, it was sort of difficult to let go of the fact that it was kind of in my work world.

HANSEN: Valdes just finished "Playing With Boys," by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, which follows three Latinas whose lives intersect in Hollywood. An agent, desperate for new talent, meets a screenwriter with a promising script and a tella novella actress looking for a breakthrough film role. Valdes found it easy to empathize with the ambitious characters.

Ms. VALDES: Women in general, you know, we put our all into our jobs. I think it's just sort of our nature to be really focused and driven and kind of almost you put your job before your own personal being, sometimes. So the book really kind of, you know, examined those types of issues. So I just felt like, `Gosh, I'm not alone.'

HANSEN: A courageous female dominates the action in another of Valdes' favorites, "A Doll's House," by Henrik Ibsen. Ibsen's critique of gender roles in the Victorian era captivated her when she read the play as a teen-ager. She was especially inspired by Ibsen's strong-willed protagonist, Nora.

Ms. VALDES: I think it was probably one of the first female characters that I encountered in a book that was just so strong and so sure of who she was and what she wanted and what she would stand for and what she wouldn't stand for. And the fact that she just left her husband like that was just--it was really hard for me to just sort of understand it but I found it very empowering at the same time, too.

HANSEN: When she's on vacation, Valdes shies away from novels. She takes along contemporary non-fiction instead. She's currently working on "Blink," Malcolm Gladwell's study of instinct and snap judgments. Valdes enjoys Gladwell's conversational writing style and the book has made her curious about a particular American business phenomenon.

Ms. VALDES: He talked about when Coca-Cola decided to change their formula and introduce New Coke and how that was just such a bad idea and it was something that the Coca-Cola Company obviously did not see coming and, you know, that's so crazy to think a company would change a formula that has had so much success and from what I understand he really breaks down the sort of--you know, what went wrong with that and why it was, you know, a disaster. So I'm looking forward to that.

HANSEN: Mimi Valdes is the editor in chief of Vibe magazine and a cultural commentator for VH1.

To learn more about the books and the people that we feature in our summer reading series, visit our Web site: npr.org.

(Soundbite of Coca-Cola song)

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) ...and keep it company.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) It's the real thing.

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) I'd like to buy the world a Coke...

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Coke is what the world wants today.

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) ...and keep it company. Coca-Cola.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) It's the real thing.

Unidentified Woman: (Singing) I'd like to buy the world a Coke.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Coke is what the world wants today.

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