In the midst of this year’s presidential election season, our candidates have discussed their opinions on everything from the economy and world peace, to childhood hunger and same sex marriage. Reading is a very strong influencing force and it is important for voters to know what the candidates read in their spare time and which books have influenced their lives. How do you think their reading materials reflect on them as men and as presidential candidates? Take a moment to view how your book list compares to theirs. Another interesting thing to consider is how each candidate uses different social media sites to publically promote their book lists. President Obama uses Barnes & Noble’s “Recommended Reading” section and Governor Mitt Romney “pins” his favorite books on his Pinterest account. Both of these sites can be updated reguarly and to give you a sense of what kinds of books the candidates are reading, I have selected 6 titles from each of them.
President Obama’s robust reading list ranges from classic titles to presidential biographies. David McCullough’s John Adams is an epic biography of John Adams, the second President of the United States, who has been referred to as the “the colossus of independence.” In Lessons in Disaster: McGeorge Bundy and the Path to War in Vietnam, Gordon M. Goldstein presents research about the beginning stages of American involvement in Vietnam and interviews with the former National Security Adviser, McGeorge Bundy. The President also selected The Complete Works of William Shakespeare for his list, including Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and King Lear.
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, another one of the President’s favorite titles, has been called “a milestone in American literature,” captivating readers since its 1952 release. Ellison’s anonymous narrator takes readers from a Negro college in a southern, black community to Harlem, New York. Newsweek International editor, Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World provides insight into the progress and resurgence of other world nations and where America lies in the twenty-first century. Lastly, in The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing, readers meet Anna, a novelist whose personal notebooks and diaries intertwine as her life falls under the scopes of communism, the African experience, love, and insanity.
Other titles on the President’s Book List are Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, The Pew Bible by Thomas Nelson, and Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. For a complete version of President Obama’s Book List, click here.
Presidential Candidate, Mitt Romney’s Pinterest Social Media account includes boards ranging from “Family” and “Television” to “#Built By Us” and “On The Road.” His “Books” board includes titles that may interest you. Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies has been reviewed as “artful, informative, and delightful” by the New York Review of Books. Diamond argues that geographical and environmental factors shaped the modern world and follows the path society took to arrive at its present state. The Adventures of Huckleberry Fin by Mark Twain is stated by the candidate to be his favorite book and is widely considered an American classic that follows the young life of Huck Finn in stories of friendship, love, courage, and morality. The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid: A Memoir by Bill Bryson was also on the the presidential candidate’s reading list.Bryson’s memoir describes his memories of an “all-American childhood,” filled with superhero dreams and the “happy” family life in the 1950s, impacted by the introduction of automobiles, televisions, and nuclear weapons.
Romney’s list continues with The Wealth and Poverty of Nations by David S. Landes, a best-selling book that analyzes how and why certain nations achieve economic success, using history as a major factor. The Next 100 Years: A Forecast for the 21st Century by George Friedman offers readers a view of the future for the United States and the world. L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth: A Saga of the Year 3000 is one of the bestselling science fiction adventure novels of all time that follows 1,000 years of life for mankind under the rule of an alien invader.
Also on presidential candidate Romney’s reading list were East of Eden by John Steinbeck and Ender’s Game by Orson Scottcard. To view Romney’s “Books” board and Pinterest account, click here.
Clearly, the candidates are very educated and well-informed men, who somehow manage to fit reading into their busy schedules.
By: Diana Cavallo
Diana Cavallo graduated Pace University, Pleasantville in May of 2012, with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Communications, and a minor in Creative Writing. She has internship positions at The Association of American Publishers and Nancy Yost Literary Agency. Her interests include magazine and book publishing, with special attention to the editorial, publicity and marketing fields. Diana will be completing the MS in Publishing program in May of 2013 and would ultimately like to become a novelist and children’s book author.