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    Samuel Clemens, left, wrote "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" in 1876 under his pen name, Mark Twain.

Between the Lines: 'Tom Sawyer' is next Big Read

Published: Monday, Aug. 29, 2011 - 12:00 am | Page 3D
Last Modified: Wednesday, Sep. 21, 2011 - 6:53 pm

"One Book" programs are popular in cities around the United States each year, and usually they're very successful. Such programs ask the community to read the same book and participate in scheduled events over a month's time.

The Sacramento Public Library and The Bee Book Club have teamed again this year for The Big Read (formerly One Book Sacramento), Sept. 29 through Oct. 31. The title of choice is "The Adventures of Tom Sawyer" by Mark Twain. The guest speaker will be Robert Hirst, a pre-eminent Twain scholar who maintains the Twain collection at UC Berkeley.

Also, The Bee is working on a program in which well-known local people – from politicians and restaurateurs to media personalities and authors – will read chapters from "Tom Sawyer." Recordings of those readings will soon be posted online at and Access Sacramento. Watch this space for more details.

Meanwhile, the Crocker Art Museum has announced a program of its own – One Book/Many Perspectives. The featured book is "Strapless: John Singer Sargent and the Fall of Madame X" by Deborah Davis (Tarcher, $15.95, 320 pages; sold in the Museum Store). The title was chosen in conjunction with the museum's current "Summer of Impressionism" exhibit.

"Strapless" is the story behind the artist's "infamous" portrait of Madame X, which hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Other works by Sargent are featured in the Crocker's current "Landscapes From the Age of Impressionism" exhibit.

The Crocker will host a discussion of the book at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, facilitated by professor Elaine Gale of California State University, Sacramento.

The bigger events are two appearances by Davis, who will discuss her book and "the mysterious woman who posed for one of the most infamous portraits in American art history." Davis will talk at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at the Crocker; her book-signing will be at 12:30 p.m.

Tickets are $10 members, $20 nonmembers; buy them at the museum, at (916) 808-1182 or www.crockerartmuseum. org. The Crocker is at 216 O St., Sacramento; (916) 808-7000.

Writing contest

With more than 65 million books in print, Debbie Macomber has a powerful presence in women's fiction.

Now her publisher, Avon Books, is sponsoring a "Debbie Macomber- inspired" online writing contest called Make Your Dreams Come True.

"This is a great opportunity for a new voice in romance to be discovered," said an Avon spokesman. "It's the publishing equivalent of 'American Idol,' and the winner will be picked by Debbie herself."

The winning entry will be packaged with Macomber's "Family Affair" paperback novella and e-book in July 2013. Entry deadline is Sept. 30 at www.familyaffaircontest. com.

Give librarians their due

Librarians in our nation's 122,000 libraries make a difference in the lives of millions of people every day. If your local librarian has affected you in a positive way, now's the chance to tell your story.

You can nominate him or her for the I Love My Librarian award, at, through Sept. 12.

Up to 10 librarians nationwide will be selected to win $5,000 and be honored at a ceremony in New York, hosted by the New York Times. Winners will be notified in December.

One, two, three, hike

Let's see, it's baseball 24/7 right now, but football is around the corner. Try this trio:

"Take Your Eye Off the Ball" by Pat Kirwan (Triumph, $16.95, 225 pages): You've got to be serious about watching football to get into this "playbook edition" by the analyst. This is training camp.

"The Games That Changed the Game" by Ron Jaworski (ESPN, $16, 336 pages): The former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback and ESPN analyst picks the landmark NFL games he says changed the entire approach to football.

"Controlled Violence" by Sam Huff (Triumph, $24.95, 256 pages): The NFL Hall of Famer helped define professional football as a middle linebacker in the 1950s and 1960s. His memoir recalls the glory years, when "he lived by one code," writes Frank Gifford in the forward: "Get the man with the football."

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