by Bob Minzesheimer)
Taylor Swift goes book shopping: Defamer.gawker.com reports that singer/songwriter Taylor Swift was spotted buying books at McNally Jackson, an indie in downtown Manhattan. No word on what's she bought, but an unnamed employee is quoted: "She had a small stack of books which I couldn't really make out. Saw that she took a few selfies with some middle-aged fans....She was browsing books in the New York section now that I'm thinking about it. Seemed like she was having a pretty normal day."
Free books at Fenway: It's the third annual World Book Night US, when 29,000 volunteers will give away 580,000 specially printed paperbacks of 36 titles. The idea is to get the books into the hands of people who don't read much or have much access to books. I'm not sure if that includes fans of the Boston Red Sox (John Cheever once said that "all literary men" root for the Red Sox, but that was before they started winning World Series). Nevertheless, two of the "book givers" -- dubbed "giverati" by book night director Carl Lennertz - will be at Boston's Fenway Park at the Red Sox-Yankees game, giving away copies of Doris Kearns Goodwin's baseball memoir, Wait Till Next Year. Goodwin, the Pulitzer Prize winning historian, grew up with the Brooklyn Dodgers and now roots for the Sox.
Celebrating libraries: Shelf-Awareness, a digital newsletter, reports on the World Book Night kickoff event Tuesday night at the New York Public Library, where several authors described their love of libraries. Malcolm Gladwell (whose Tipping Point is one of the books being given away tonight) recounted reading most of the books in his local library by age 9 and worrying that he would soon exhaust the collection. Then his father showed him the University of Waterloo Library, which was eight stories tall, and Gladwell assumed that would last until he was 18 or so.
BookCon 'Star': BookCon, the new book event in New York on May 31, has added John Green, author of the of best-selling novel for teens, The Fault in Our Stars, to its literary lineup. The novel, about two teens who fall in love at a cancer support group, is back at No. 1 on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list. Green will appear on a panel with the team behind the film adaptation (in theaters June 6) including Elizabeth Gabler, president of Fox 2000 Pictures, director Josh Boone and screenwriters Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber.
Happy Birthday, Will: Today also is William Shakespeare's birthday. For those counting, he'd be 450 years old. In this week's issue of The New Yorker, Adam Gopnik explores scholars' painstaking efforts to discover authentic vestiges of Shakespeare's life and work. Among his observations: "What's sure is that Shakespeare was, like many self-taught people, a bookish guy. Never having gone to university — as his critics pointed out spitefully — he got himself educated in modern languages and modern literature by buying or borrowing books, and burrowing inside them." Sounds like he would have loved World Book Night.
Eyes on the prizes: Claudia Rankine, a Jamaican immigrant who teaches at Pomona College in Claremont, Calif.,is the winner of the $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize given to an American poet "of exceptional talent who deserves wider recognition." Rankine's collections include Don't Let Me Be Lonely and Citizen: An American Lyric. The $30,000 Rea Award for short fiction goes to Elizabeth Spencer, best known for her 1960 story "The Light in the Piazza," adapted into a 1962 film starring Olivia de Havilland and a 2005 Tony-winning Broadway musical.
Books for a lifetime: The editors at Amazon have released their latest installment of "100 Books to Read in a Lifetime – the Mystery & Thriller edition." Recommendations, in alphabetical order, start with Eric Ambler's A Coffin for Dimitros and end with Daniel Woodrell's Winter's Bone. I'm glad to see that Dennis Lehane's Mystic River (even better than the film)and Donald Sobol's Encylopedia Brown, Boy Detective (a childhood favorite) made the cut.
You can follow USA TODAY's Bob Minzesheimer on twitter: @bookbobminz