Every year I head off to Book Expo and my husband says, "Bring me back one book."

In previous years I have lugged home weighty nonfiction tomes, biographies of Presidents or lengthy explications of pop culture or the economy.

This year he's getting The Washingtonienne. Think he'll enjoy it?

Meanwhile, I cleaned up. I missed out on the Terry McMillan giveaway, but scored galleys of the upcoming Candace Bushnell and Lauren Weisberger novels, a book called I'M NO SAINT: A Nasty Little Memoir of Love and Leaving (the first page, wherein the bride-to-be narrator has a wedding-day fling with one of her bridesmaids, is a killer), and ADORED, which is being billed as Judith Krantz for the new millenium.

As a long-time Judith Krantz fan, I flipped through the book and was saddened when nary a single PRINCESS DAISY-style sex scene jumped out at me. I'll just have to keep looking.

My friend Beth, who vacations in Molokai, will get THE COLONY: The Harrowing True Story of the Exiles of Molokai.

"Lepers!" I said to the very nice sales rep standing by the stack of copies.

"Well, actually, they didn't all have leprosy," he explained.

"I think BODY PARTS ON THE BEACH might have been a better title."

"Well, actually, most of them didn't have leprosy."

"But some of them had leprosy."

"Yes, but..."

"Lepers!" I said. Then I scored a plastic tiara at the Houghton-Mifflin display for HOW TO BE A PRINCESS IN 7 DAYS OR LESS. It's ostensibly for the girl, but I decided to put it on my own head for safe keeping, and I proudly wore it to the Booksense luncheon.

There were about fifty authors there, and here's what I can tell you: Neil Gaiman looks like a rock star. Laura Lippman got, to my ears, the most enthusiastic applause of anyone. Francine Prose seemed incapable of cracking a smile (maybe she was just put off by my tiara...or the presence of -- horror! -- a chick lit author in such august and literary company. Or maybe she doesn't like crowds. Or people. Or....lepers!).

The biggest gossip at my table was about Oprah's latest pick from the never-dwindling pool of dead white men. Her designated three-book summer read is William Faulkner, which I guess means that the Word of Mouth beg-a-thon was a failure....or at least, it hasn't born fruit yet.

The independent booksellers didn't seem wild about William -- especially all three books being sold together. "My customers won't go for that. What if they've already got one or two of the books?" asked one.

Others wondered whether the boxed-set price point would be off-putting, or whether Oprah fans would want to read the same author for three months in a row.

We shall see.

More later. I'm off to stuff gift bags!

Jen