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Julia Child: "one hot tomato"

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What's streaking up bestseller lists and selling like hot crepes in bookstores all over the US this week? A classic that's almost 50 years old: "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" by Julia Child.

It's no mystery as to what's driving sales. Apparently Child's books always  sell well – but not like this week. (National chain Sur La Table, for one, says they have seen a 15-fold increase in sales of  Child's book.)

The new movie "Julie & Julia"  starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams is No. 2 at the box office and seems to be sending plenty of viewers straight to the kitchen – cookbook(s) in hand. "Julia's Kitchen Wisdom" is also reported to be selling well, as is "My Life in France," the Child memoir on which the movie is partially based.

The book most readers are seeking, however, is the $40 hardcover version of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking," Child's first book and the one featured in the movie. According to the Associated Press, Sales of the classic are "easily outpacing" the $7.99 paperback copy of 'Julie & Julia' – Julie Powell's memoir about spending a year cooking a la Julia Child and the other half of the inspiration for the film.

As more viewers see and discuss the film, sales seem unlikely to slow. Knopf, the publisher of "Mastering," has ordered an additional 75,000 copies.

As Carolyn Kellogg puts it, blogging for the LA Times, as an author, Julia Child is "one hot tomato."

(Chapter & Verse readers are reminded that they can download the Monitor Books podcast for 8/10/09 here.


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