Education Secretary Prefers Summer Escapist Fare When U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings gets time to read, she likes to escape reality. This summer, the former Texas education lobbyist is reading books that take her from the wilds of North Dakota to ashrams in India and islands in Indonesia.
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Education Secretary Prefers Summer Escapist Fare

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Education Secretary Prefers Summer Escapist Fare

Education Secretary Prefers Summer Escapist Fare

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For this week's summer reader, someone who considers books a big deal year round: Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. She joins us now from her office in Washington.

So good to have you with us.

Secretary MARGARET SPELLINGS (U.S. Department of Education): Great to be here, Lynn.

NEARY: So what are you reading now?

Sec. SPELLINGS: Well, I am reading "The Master Butcher's Singing Club" by Louise Erdrich - so far, so good. It's really entertaining, lots of interesting characters. And I just finished reading Elizabeth Gilbert's "Eat, Pray, Love…"


Sec. SPELLINGS: …which I liked very much. Have you read it?

NEARY: I have not read "Eat, Pray, Love." I have read "The Master Butcher's Singing Club." It's a really good book. But I know many people are reading "Eat, Pray, Love." What's so good about it?

Sec. SPELLINGS: Well, it's very entertaining, but it's also reflective and thought provoking. It's about a woman who travels the world, seeking solace and recovery from a bad divorce and so forth. And obviously, and very happily, but it's about her journey.

NEARY: Do you have anything else on your summer reading list?

Sec. SPELLINGS: Well, my next is "A Thousand Splendid Suns." I have been to Afghanistan twice. In fact, I've talked with the first lady about this last week. She had just finished it and it's about women in Afghanistan and he is such an incredible storyteller.

NEARY: Of course, the author of "A Thousand Splendid Suns" is Khaled Hosseini.


NEARY: What do you think makes him such a good storyteller?

Sec. SPELLINGS: Oh, great descriptions, wonderful character development and, obviously, his own love of his country and his kind of passion and regret about what it was and what it became and now, God willing, is working its way out of.

NEARY: Obviously, you have a very busy working schedule, but if you had all the time in the world, is there one book in particular that you would like to read?

Sec. SPELLINGS: Well, I should probably say the complete works of Shakespeare or something like that. But really, if I have all the time in the world, I'd love to read all the "Harry Potter" books from start to finish. I've just read the first and somewhat end of the second and then put it down and would love to start at the beginning of "Harry Potter' and get all the way at the end of the last book. Of course, my children have read all of them and devoured them very, very quickly. So we have them all and it's been on my to-do list. But, of course, the commitment keeps mounting now with this latest 700-plus-page addition in the final book.

NEARY: Well, I've read the last book and as I'm sure you've heard it's a great ending. So it's worth…

Sec. SPELLINGS: That is what I hear.

NEARY: You know, you're someone whose work affects so many children. I wonder, do you have any favorite books from childhood?

Sec. SPELLINGS: Oh, yes. And I mean, this sounds probably trite, but I loved "Charlotte's Web." It's one of the books that I give schools when I go and visit them. And it's just one of my favorites, and so enchanting.

NEARY: And was reading a special time for you when you were a kid?

Sec. SPELLINGS: Oh, yes. Yes. I love to read and still do and, you know, liked to be swept away.

NEARY: Our summer reader is Margaret Spellings. She's the secretary of education. Thanks so much for being with us.

Sec. SPELLINGS: Thank you very much.

NEARY: This is NPR News.

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