Friday, May 21, 2010

Presidential reading

by Rachel

I’ve got to admit, I only picked up a copy of Netherland last year because I heard President Obama was reading the book. Usually I’d give a book a fair go, but I couldn’t get into Netherland at all—I want to say it’s because the main character’s wife was named Rachel (which kept throwing me off), as well as there being too many cricket references in the book (a sport all-too familiar and exhausting for me!). These were incredibly petty reasons not to love the work, though they were enough to make me stop reading. But coming back to why I picked up a copy in the first place—it was because Obama was reading it; I think it’s fascinating to know what a public figure is reading. And not just any public figure, but a president.

So it’s no surprise that I loved this slideshow on the Huffington Post of some of the U.S. presidents’ favorite books. After evaluating their favorites, I think Bill Clinton sounds like the type of person I’d like to sit down and talk books with. And, George W. Bush—95 books read in 2006? That’s a lot of spare time for reading.

How do you rate the presidents’ book choices? And, have you picked up a book simply because a public figure was reading it?


  1. I've never picked up a book because a public figure was reading it. Not even Oprah winfrey. I have picked up books ABOUT presidents or public figures though. Bill Clinton's wasn't bad. No, I usually choose according to word of mouth or good reviews that I've found on the blogosphere.

  2. Maybe instead of reading books, Obama should start reading LAWS before he goes out and speaks publicly about them.

  3. I do love knowing what famous people read, ESPECIALLY political figures. In part because I like to imagine what they enjoy and what they are thinking about when they read, and in part because I like to try to figure out what ideological message they are trying to send. I think it's important, however, to keep these two parts separate: books are too complex to assume that the political message being sent is the same as the reason the president likes a book (that is, assuming he reads the book he says he does).

  4. I admit word of mouth does inspire me to read a novel, however I have been dissapointed a few times so now I check out books that I am appealed to for various reason of my own creative mind.

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