03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

New York Public Library Celebrates Library Lions

Last night, the New York Public Library held its annual Library Lions dinner, followed by the Young Lions benefit party.

This year, in a break from tradition, the Library honored three of its own librarians alongside Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, illustrator Hilary Knight and Annie Proulx, author of "Brokeback Mountain." Over dinner in the Rose Reading Room, and at the Young Lions party and afterparty at Avenue, I asked some of the Library's guests and bibliophiles what they're reading.

Actress Zoe Kazan is enjoying Alice Munro's Runaway, although she's "on a big Murakami kick," she said. At age 14, Kazan, a self-proclaimed "big book nerd," volunteered at the Library, where she was charged with cleaning the collection.

"The stuff you find glued between the pages of the children's books is literally something to behold," Kazan remembered.

"I get free books!" marveled Gay Talese⎯courtesy of his wife, of course, editor Nan Talese⎯"I don't need the library!"

As for whose nightstand stack is taller, it's hard to say. He's just finished the new Ayn Rand biography, Margaret Atwood's latest, and a Pat Conroy novel. She's reading Steve Larson ("who I'm addicted to," she said), John Grisham, Christopher Reich, and Ian McEwan.

Besides it being her job, Nan finds other ways to make time for reading.

"She doesn't make the bed, that's how she does it," Gay dished.

Billy Crudup⎯rhymes with screwed up, as he corrected me⎯took the question (what he's reading right now) literally.

"Obviously nothing at the moment, we're at a party dude!"

When he's not out on the town, Crudup said he's reading Backyardigans books to his son. He's also just finished Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers.

HuffPost editor-at-large Nora Ephron is immersed in Kenneth Turan's biography of Joe Papp, while husband Nick Pileggi is reading Andrew Vachss' Haiku.

In preparation for my biggest interview of the night, with Leighton Meester, I went through a dry run with Young Lions Chairman Hud Morgan, who, like fellow chair Nick Brown, was dressed in Ferragamo. For his part, Hud is in the early chapters of the Bible.

Leighton came with Gossip Girl co-star Sebastian Stan on her arm, but I wanted to know what was on her nightstand.

"Everyone keeps asking me that," she complained. "I'm not reading anything right now."

No matter; the talk of the table was not Leighton's reading list, but a mouthwatering pretzel she scored from the breadbasket.

"How'd I get the pretzel?" she asked. "Snatched it."

When I told her that it was the envy of the party, Meester wasn't surprised.

"Yeah, I know. You might have wanted it, but you didn't have it."

Stan, by the way, is reading Updike.

Photos from the dinner, courtesy Patrick McMullan:


Photos from the Young Lions Dance, courtesy Patrick McMullan (unless otherwise noted):