Presidential Reading

Friday, August 26, 2011


President Obama received criticism this week about the number of fiction books on his summer reading list.  Some pundits argue that reading fiction makes him appear to be a political lightweight or “out of touch with reality.” President Theodore Roosevelt, however, was a voracious reader of all genres. Brooke spoke to his biographer, Edmund Morris, about the reading habits of the 26th president and how an appreciation of fiction is a sign of a rich mind.

Comments [12]

Mea from Georgia

Is there anything a President, especially Obama, can do that will not incur the wrath of the other party? Just the fact that a person loves reading is very important. Sometimes you just have to get away from the nightmares that are facing you every minute.There is a great deal to be learned from fiction.

Sep. 18 2011 02:47 PM
Marceline from Cleveland, OH

I still trying to figure out why the White House releases the President's reading list. Why on Earth does this matter?

Sep. 01 2011 03:38 PM

If he was reading trash like Ayn Rand it would probably make his critics a bit happier.

Sep. 01 2011 02:20 PM
Mike from New Orleans

Zealots will take every opportunity to criticize the political party they oppose. Pres George W. Bush read 50 or more books each year - mostly biographies and histories - and he was criticized for reading only what he already believed. And despite his Harvard MBA he was portrayed as not very intelligent. Pres Obama doesn't need to defend his reading list. Lord knows he deserves to read for relaxation and entertainment as much as anyone else. What arrogance it takes to suggest that ANY president isn't meeting his reading "obligations." Geez...

Aug. 29 2011 09:21 AM

@Joe Keenan: From p. 51-52 of "The Seven Worlds of Theodore Roosevelt" by Edward Wagenknecht:

"Freedom and Responsibility" by Hadley
"History of our Revolution" by Trevelyan
"England in the Age of Wickcliffe" by Trevelyan
"Out of Gloucester" and "The Seiners" by Connolly
"Under the Vierkleur" by Viljoen
"The Memoirs of the Baroness Bode"
"English and Italian Dante" by Carlyle
"Song of Roland"
"Prince Genji"
"The Fourty-seven Ronin"
"Various histories of Napoleon, Gustavus Adolphus, Charles XII, and Frederick the Great, but none that I regard as more than passing worth"
"Mrs. Wigs of the Cabbage Patch" (a "perfectly light but nice" book)
"Memories" by St. Simons
Celtic translations by Kuno Meyer

-- MrJM

Aug. 28 2011 06:19 PM
John from Center City

The Republican's are "objecting" to President Obama's reading list? It doesn't show his seriousness for our current situation? Makes me wonder what the vacation reading list of the Republican/Tea Party darlings - Michele B and Sarah P would look like.

Aug. 28 2011 01:11 PM
Toby from metro Atlanta

That jab at conservatism was excellent... I mean, he was referring to ethical-conservatism.

Aug. 28 2011 11:53 AM
Francisco from Newcastle upon Tyne, UK

Those critics may wish to listen to this:

It's a researcher commenting on the results of his research about readers of fiction.

Aug. 28 2011 11:21 AM
Joe Keenan

Can someone post TR's summer reading list that Mr. Morris mentioned, or post the link. Thanks.

Aug. 27 2011 07:18 PM
Michiganjf from Austin

Unlike his "critics," President Obama is a scholar of constitutional law, and has thus spent his entire life reading pithy works regarding politics, law, biography, and likely, pretty much everything under the sun.

His clueless critics say more about themselves than the President when they attack him with such infantile, begrudging stupidities.

Aug. 27 2011 09:23 AM

Every President needs to be curious! Good fiction is important to help all of us understand people, history and cultures. Our President is very well educated and knows a lot about politics..even the down and good for him...He is a writer and a reader! Too many Americans do not read..ignorance is not bliss!

Aug. 27 2011 09:16 AM
Robert from New York City

Let me understand this ... Republicans object to the President reading fiction? They read fiction all the time ... their own position papers and the spewings of Fox Noise.

Aug. 27 2011 07:47 AM

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