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“I was browsing through the books in the library and came across a book that would change the course of my life forever,” Handler said sarcastically. “The story of this man’s struggles, successes and setbacks were exactly what I needed because of the impact it has made in my life.”
The Library Foundation of Los Angeles held the event in support of the Los Angeles Public Library at NeueHouse Hollywood. In addition to Handler, Timothy Simons, Retta, Kumail Nanjiani and Constance Wu read passages and shared personal memories about growing up with libraries. Other attendees at the sold-out event included Sarah Thrye, Andy Richter, Demetri Martin and Randall Park.
Young Literati chair Colin Hanks co-hosted the event with good friend Busy Phillips.
Ken Brecher, president of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles, introduced the event by revealing that for the first time in the history of the city, more than 650,000 children would be given a library card due to the funds raised.
“This is so exciting because when you have a library, it says on its door, ‘Everyone is welcome,’” said Brecher. “It has someone standing there that wants you to be the person you want to be, and that’s pretty rare.”
The Library Foundation of Los Angeles supports the Los Angeles Public Library by providing free programs and services through fundraising. The foundation partnered with the Young Literati, which is a membership group that raises awareness of the importance and power of public libraries. The funds raised at the event go toward safe spaces that are dedicated for children to access computers, school supplies and tutoring with no cost at the public library, known as Student Zones.
Veep‘s Simons read the first passage of the night from The Birthday Clown Consortium Price Guide by Luke Burns, and also related a story about his sister, who influenced him to read the Harry Potter books, which he was skeptical of at first.
“She said, ‘Shut the f— up, dummy, reading is reading,” said the actor. “I started reading the Harry Potter books after that, and it turns out they are great.”
Following Simons, Parks and Recreation alum Retta read far-out questions that were posed to librarians on the Los Angeles Public Library’s Info Now desk. The questions were asked before our present technology allowed one to look up the answers. During her speech, she joked about the evening’s setup.
“This is such a Hollywood event. Like what library event have you been to where there is a f—ing DJ? And the chairs are so small, my ass is like, ‘Really, this is where I am sitting?’” Retta said.
Nanjiani, who stars in the upcoming film The Big Sick, which is based on his own real-life relationship with his wife, took the stage to read a passage of The Cave of Time: Choose Your Own Adventure by Edward Packard.
Wu, from ABC’s Fresh Off the Boat, followed with a forensic performance reading from Rupert’s Birthday by Ken Jenkins.
The last speaker of the night was Handler, who spoke about how her love of reading began before turning her speech into a political rant.
“I was the youngest of six kids and my parents were big readers. They made me read because they thought I was going to be pretty and you have to back that up,” she joked. “I was so excited about being pretty, I was, like, ‘Sure, I’ll read.’”
After reading the passage from Trump’s autobiography, Handler shared her feelings about the outcome of the election.
“I think the way we have come together is so inspiring,” she said. “I would have hoped that would have happened before the election, but I’ll f—ing take it because it’s so much better to be friends with people you would never talk to before just because we all know that Donald Trump is a f—ing loser.”
Andrew Bird closed the evening with three songs performed on the violin with a loop pedal. The stars of the event followed with an afterparty at the same location with appetizers and a DJ set.
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