Society / Featured Parties

George W. Bush and Matthew McConaughey Team Up For $1.9 Million Texas Reading Night

True Celebrity Authors Honor Barbara Bush's Immense Legacy

BY // 05.04.21

Former first lady Barbara Bush’s legacies of supporting literacy and a talent for sharp humor remain strong three years after her passing as witnessed during the 27th annual Celebration of Reading.  More than $1.9 million was raised for Houston literacy efforts during the dinner evening at the Post Oak Hotel while former President George W. Bush and Neil Bush exchanged a lively banter on who was their mother’s favorite son.

Of the six authors making presentations on this night, it was “W” in great form who topped the lineup not only for his playful one-on-one with the evening’s emcee, KPRC Channel 2 news anchor Dominique Sachse, but also with the thoughtful reading from his latest book Out of Many, One: Portraits of America’s Immigrants, which on that very day reached New York Times Best Seller status. The excerpt featured Paula Rendon, the Mexican immigrant who became an integral part of the Bush family as she helped raise Bush and his siblings.

“She was the first immigrant I really knew,” W noted. “She came to America to better the lives of her children, but she also bettered ours.”

Bush’s brief dip into politics — comments on the need for bipartisan immigration reform, the importance of restoring DACA, and the need for “healing from the divisive anger that we’ve been dealing with in the past” — earned the former president rousing applause from the gathering of close to 350.

Joining the roster of bestselling authors, Elin Hilderbrand, whose new book Golden Girl is set for release in June, revealed that inspiration for writing her beach-centric novels comes from her belief that “Everyone deserves to spend a summer at the beach.”

Mark Sullivan (Under a Scarlet Sky) shared the path of discovery that led to his just-released book, The Last Green Valley, based on the real life story of a Ukrainian family who fled Europe during Stalin and Hitler’s reigns to end up in Montana, which incidentally is home to Sullivan.

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Susan & James A. Baker III
Authors Peter Baker & Susan Glasser at the Celebration of Reading 2021 at the Post Oak Hotel. (Photo by Dave Rossman)

Husband and wife power couple Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for the New York Times and MSNBC political analyst, and Susan B. Glasser, staff writer at The New Yorker and founder of the award-winning Politico Magazine, sat down with Sachse to discuss their book, The Man Who Ran Washington: The Life and Times of James A. Baker III. Their favorable take on the former Secretary of State: “Henry Kissinger and Karl Rove wrapped into one.”

Author presentations concluded with a pre-recorded chat between Sachse and actor Matthew McConaughey, whose book Greenlights is also a New York Times Best Seller.

For those who missed it, KPRC Channel 2 will air a one-hour, commercial-free version of the program at 7 pm on this Saturday, May 8.

Following the author program, Maria and Neil Bush, Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation chairs, joined Sachse on stage to wish Secretary Baker a happy birthday while he was surprised with a candlelit multi-layer birthday cake. The Man Who Ran Washington had turned 91 the previous day.

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