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What Books Are On Obama’s Shelf?

Ah yes. Nothing like talking about the president to the stir the pot.

Though I have an undergrad degree in political science, I won’t bore you with political talk. In fact, I wouldn’t have much to say anyway. I received my political science degree many years ago, back when I actually believed politicians had something to offer.

Anyway, I digress. What was this post about? Oh yeah, Obama’s books.

So our friends over at The Daily Beast recently listed all of the books Obama has read since he became president in 2008.

Here’s a few that made the list. I’ll comment on each.

Our Kind of Traitor: John Le Carre’s latest novel. You might remember Le Carre from The Spy Who Came In From The Cold. The novel is about spies and tennis. Huh?

President Reagan: The Role of A Lifetime. Labeled as “the single best book about the Reagan presidency.” Author Lou Cannon recounts the Reagan presidency from his years covering the Gipper in office.

Freedom: Jonathan Franzen’s most recent book. You’ll remember Franzen from my review of The Corrections and his writing rules. I’ve heard good things about this one. Franzen is always a good read.

What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng: Dave Eggers is one of my favorite nonfiction writers. I haven’t read this book, but it’s about a Sudanese refugee who was a member of the Lost Boys of Sudan program.

John Adams: David McCullough’s wildly-successful biography of the second U.S. president. This book was the basis for the popular HBO mini-series.

I really like Obama’s reading selections. From just looking at the five books I listed above, you can tell he’s got diverse reading taste–fiction, non-fiction, history, social justice, and even a book about Ronald Reagan. I’ll give Obama props for reading about a president that, philosophically, is worlds apart from him.

If you’re interested in the entire list of Obama’s reads, here’s the list.

What are your thoughts on his reading selections? What are some books that you think are fit for a president to read? (Please, no political debate!)

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Thanks for sharing that list, fascinating. I feel so sour asking why are there so few women on his big list? Do we simply not write so well? As for my choices for Obama, I reckon he should ask every world leader he meets, and every community leader to nominate a book that makes their country a bit more 3D (like Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart for Nigeria, please forgive the spelling). I often ask my uni students to do this at the start of the term and it produces some fine reading lists for me. I think some of them are flattered to be asked too.


    September 23, 2011
    • I have to agree on that one. I hate to be a negative nancy but 1 out of 24 books seems more than a little light on the ladies, maybe that’s in part because of the genre…but I doubt it.


      September 23, 2011
    • I’d like to hear Obama’s thoughts on Mrs. Dalloway.


      September 23, 2011
  2. Teresa #

    That’s some pretty serious reading. I think that he needs a bit of levity in there – or at least another spy story.


    September 23, 2011
    • Freedom is also a nice break, I would think.


      September 23, 2011
  3. Curious that his list did not include “Atlas Shrugged”.

    (funny, no?)


    September 23, 2011
  4. gadberry #

    To be honest I was surprised and impressed. With the first five. John Adams is a fantastic book.


    October 7, 2011

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