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Why Must Barack Obama Have His Own Taste in Books?

Incorporating Washington Post Book World.What does one say when confronted with a president who reads books while he’s on vacation? Surely something like “Why must you, President Smarty Pants, follow your interests when the time comes to select reading material? Why can’t you read something I would like to read? Why aren’t you me? After all, I am secretly a very important man/woman.” At least that’s what we should think, according to various opinion pieces recently posted on the wretched Internet.

The first protest against the president’s oppressive reading list was Tevi Troy’s principled howl in the National Review:

[Obama's book selection] may constitute the oddest assortment of presidential reading material ever disclosed, for a number of reasons. First, five of the six are novels, and the near-absence of nonfiction sends the wrong message for any president, because it sets him up for the charge that he is out of touch with reality.

Reading this, one gets the terrible feeling not only that Mr. Troy has never read any novels ever, but also that he might not know what a novel is. Your reviewer won’t bore you with a lecture about how a good novel can expand the mind in all sorts of ways. One would, however, like to point out that you can actually learn things — in a literal picking-up-information sort of way — from novels. In the 19th century, the reading public learned about the lives of Cossacks from Tolstoy, the English legal system (and countless other things) from Dickens, the Parisian criminal underworld and its mirror in the Paris police from Balzac, and on and on and on. Certainly, there’s more to these writers than News You Can Use, but to argue that reading fiction makes one “out of touch with reality” is just bizarre.

More bizarre might be Troy’s notion that all non-fiction is necessarily in touch with reality. Which brings us to this:

Obama, like other Democratic presidents, has tended to read mainly liberal books, although he could stand to gain some insight from conservative ones. There could be many reasons for his selection bias, but buying his books at the “legendary” Bunch of Grapes probably is not helping matters. While I have never had the pleasure of shopping there, the store’s website highlights a variety of its offerings, with nary a conservative work. There may be some on the shelves there somewhere, but they are probably not staring Obama in the face when he visits the store.

According to the results of my completely unscientific survey of Bunch of Grapes’s website, Laura Ingraham’s Of Thee I Zing, Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, and Mark Steyn’s After America were listed as available for online ordering.

?????

Most bizarre of all is the idea that novels, or any kind of book other than a straightforward political tract, can be divided into “liberal books” and “conservative books.” The idea that there are conservative novels, conservative movies, and conservative rock songs seems to be obsession at National Review (which once, long ago and perhaps in an alternate universe, employed Guy Davenport to write book reviews). Your reviewer wonders why they haven’t put together a slide show of “conservative paintings” yet. But what, in a world of nudes and blurry weirdness and erotic Jesus’s, could possibly make the cut? Oh wait…yeah.

The only author on Obama’s reading list with whom your reviewer was somewhat familiar was Israeli novelist David Grossman. Needless to say, Grossman is guilty of wrongthink on settlements in the West Bank and East Jersualem, so off with his head.

Short-story writer Robin Black, writing in liberal Salon, thought Troy’s complaints were just ridiculous. The real horror, Black said, is that Obama doesn’t read enough women authors:

Now the fact that the president of the United States apparently doesn’t read women writers is not the greatest crisis facing the arts, much less the nation — but it’s upsetting nevertheless.

Is it? Is it really? She goes on:

It is a well-known fact among those of us to whom this matters that while women read books written by men, men do not tend to reciprocate. The reasons for this imbalance are the subject of much speculation and little conclusion, but, simple as this may sound, it looks an awful lot to me like we think they are more interesting than they think we may turn out to be. And I very much doubt that’s a message Mr. Obama means to endorse — especially as a father of daughters who might enjoy and even be inspired by seeing their father cart around a book emblazoned with a woman’s name writ large.

Ms. Black is missing the real scandal here, namely that Obama doesn’t read enough amputee Chicano lesbian composers of villanelles. Perhaps we should just make a list of acceptable books for every president to read, or even better an Index of Forbidden Books. And a quota system that corresponds to the American population, so that instead of reading whatever they want to read, each president should make 63% of their reading material books by whites, etc.

Meanwhile the Jewish Week picked up on Troy’s disapproval of David Grossman. Eric Herschthal thinks Grossman is a fine literary artist, but “given the politics of the general subject I would have avoided it.  Anyway, the mind of an Israeli novelist is markedly different from a general Jewish American one.”

It’s always too much trouble to read foreigners.

Anyway. What does Obama’s reading list tell us? We have no idea, but one wonders if people who actually care about such things shouldn’t be locked up in an asylum emblazoned with the words BEDLAM FOR MASTER BORES writ large.

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166 comments

      1. MichelesPantalones

        I put mine online after I realized I was only flattering myself that *anybody* would be interested. In X years that I've been blogging, no one's ever commented on it. Breaks my fucking heart.

    1. genxr

      If he can read The Stranger in twenty minutes*, and fifty other books over the course of the summer. Now THAT's Presidential.

      *as long as there are no follow-up questions about the content or context of said book, yes I did read it.

  1. Maman

    Clearly Obama should just read books written by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, et al, so he comes to learn the error of his ways and tries to become a "real" American (which obvs. can't be done as he is black). Still he should read the words of his "betters" who yearn to school him.

    1. Crank_Tango

      shit, maybe he does need to read what these assholes are saying, so then he would stop making nice with them.

      1. mrpuma2u

        True dat. He would realize negotiating with someone who literally can't compromise is futile. Yeah, that's another thing Barry is never gonna do.

    2. __kth__

      Really, I could entertain the premise that Obama needs to acquaint himself with the philosophical underpinnings of conservatism, but surely there are better ways than the literary equivalent of watching Rush Limbaugh taking a shit on a liberal, or Ann Coulter biting the head off one.

      1. MichelesPantalones

        Jerome Corsi, who never saw a fact he couldn't twist into a lie? R U SRS?

        You're just kidding, right?

  2. Jason_inthe_Peg

    Literacy is a liberal trait not a conservative one and that is the real problem with this president.

    That and his being near and all.

  3. Goonemeritus

    Ok he could have read a conservative book and he could have read non-fiction. But I defy you to point out one example in the modern canon that is both at the same time.

      1. Advn2rgirl

        Sherri Tepper, Anne Lamott, Diana Wynne Jones: the three I'm setting out for hurricane reading.

        1. MichelesPantalones

          Sherri Tepper fershure. She's a great writer, and I can't figure out why she's so underread. Flannery O'Connor, Anne Michaels whose prose is pure poetry; also Indrani Aikath Gyaltsen or Arundhati Roy (pity she doesn't write more!); or maybe Monique Truong, whose first novel was sensationally good; and Muriel Barbery, most certainly.

    1. finallyhappy

      Ursula Leguin, Elizabeth Moon, Laura Lippman and The bestest- Jane Austen(but she is a furriner)

      1. SorosBot

        Margaret Atwood and Colleen McCullough (the Masters of Rome series is awesome, and educational) for me. Though McCullough is another foreigner.

        1. Lascauxcaveman

          E.A. Proulx is a peach. Except when she's writing in first person; then she's kind of a whiny little bitch.

          Willa Cather is on my bed side table at this very moment.

  4. charlesdegoal

    Focusing on BO's current readings overlooks the fact that he may have read other books in the past, and do we approve of THOSE?

    1. BerkeleyBear

      Somewhere I saw a graphic with what he read since election day 2008. Early on it was heavy on non-fiction (mainly biographies histories about other Presidents) and the very first book was Doris Kearns Goodwin's Team of Rivals. Now, they were about Presidents who weren't complete doctrainare asshats (Lincoln and FDR for sure, and I think I saw something about TR too) so the NRO crowd will still be offended, but otherwise these people can bite me.

      1. MichelesPantalones

        I like that these mental midgets, who probably haven't even read as much as a slackarsed layabout like my own ignorant, addled, uneducated, lazy self, have the gall to criticise someone who's read more books than they have years of life on this planet, all added together. Feckin' eejits, the lot of them.

  5. DaSandman

    Or just buy a membership to the Negro Socialist Homo Intellectual President Book Club.

    You think Rick Perry reads books? He's a man, he EATS books. Or beats off to the ones with skimpily attired rentboys lounging louchely.

    Thank God for Austin. Wasn't for that town he'd have to perfect his wide stance…

  6. BornInATrailer

    Maybe he's waiting for the movie version of various non-fiction works. That sounds American.

      1. jus_wonderin

        I haven't, but I will. Looks interesting. Actually reading a lot of juvenile sci-fi lately as I want to a story OUT of my head before I can't remember how to type. So the reads are to "investigate" that genre.

        1. Doktor Zoom

          If you haven't read Jo Walton's Among Others, do yourself a favor and get it. It's about a 15 year old girl who makes it through adolescence by reading SF and finding her own karass of SF fans.

          Oh, and she also saved the world with the help of fairies and her twin sister, but all that happened before the novel begins.

      2. DashboardBuddha

        I have been meaning to read this…maybe it will find a home on my kindle this weekend. I looked up the novel on Wiki and found this:

        "The text reveals that as a result of the war there was a violent backlash against the culture of advanced knowledge and technology that had led to the development of nuclear weapons. During this backlash, called the "Simplification," anyone of learning, and eventually anyone who could even read, was likely to be killed by rampaging mobs, who proudly took on the name of "Simpletons""

        In the book it took a fucking nuclear war to make people stupid. In real life, all it took was for a black man to become president.

      3. ShaveTheWhales

        A beautiful book, but you really had to read it back during the Cold War to get the complete effect.

    1. BornInATrailer

      Could be worse. While I don't normally read many books about atheism (This echo chamber is made out of paper!) I just started God Is Not Great.

      I'm thinking that trumps the latest Niven/Pournelle book. Which I'm also reading.

      1. MichelesPantalones

        Lost my taste for Larry Niven/Jerry Pournelle and their whole "space-opera" category of fiction. In my old age, I find I enjoy reading nonfiction quite a bit. I thoroughly enjoyed everything of Dawkins that I've read so far.

        What's the latest Niven/Pournelle offering, and is it any good?

    2. MichelesPantalones

      Me too. China Mieville is sitting on my shelf staring reproachfully at me. Well, her book is, at any rate.

        1. MichelesPantalones

          He is? Learn something new every day.

          Guess I'll have to get around to that book sooner than later. I'm in the middle of some very dreary early Vietnamese history — dreary in the sense of all the head-cutting going on, that is. Although that's still better than Alfons van der Kraans' delightful depiction of the first Muslim prince of the Khmers, who specialized in having his people flayed, gutted, and impaled alive around his palace. Vlad had nothing on the guy. Fantasy would be preferable right now.

  7. tcaalaw

    Isn't Brave New World arguably a "conservative" book, i.e., its premise is that most forms of technological progress are dehumanizing and that "old ways" of life are better and more authentic?

    1. MichelesPantalones

      As someone else in this thread pointed out, there really isn't such a thing as "conservative" or "liberal" fiction.

  8. real_dc_native

    I think on his next vacation Obama should read "Mein Kampf" and Marx's Capital. That should make the media types' heads explode.

  9. DustBowlBlues

    I am so angry at POTUS in so many ways, I can hardly rise to defend his right to read whatever he wants while he's on vaca. This is a graphic example of the absurdity of running against "congress" rather than the real obstructionists: the people who see everything as us or them, conservative or liberal, black or white. Would it hurt, just once, to do something Democratic, or is he so afraid of taking the side of his party and losing the 10% of independents–aka, people who don't pay any attention to the election until the last 48 hours, when they watch Faux news and have their decisions made for them.

    This is pretty OT which means I've ruined Greer's literary rant or, rather, rants about literary matters.

    1. chascates

      I think of Betty MacDonald's The Egg and I in which a rural person decribes her by saying "She reads" in much the same way as one would remark "She drinks".

      1. Jukesgrrl

        In the short time I've been in Tucson, on multiple occasions when I've been reading in public I've had people come up to me and say, "Oh, you read. How nice."

        As if I was tatting or doing scrimshaw.

        1. MichelesPantalones

          And Tucson is a pretty liberal little town, too. How strange.

          I carry books with me everywhere. Even a few in the trunk, in case the car breaks down somewhere. "Oh, you read."

          I might tattoo this on my ass, just for the laffs.

          1. Jukesgrrl

            When I lived in a car-theft-prone neighborhood in Pittsburgh, I never once had my car broken into, let alone stolen. My friends said it was because I always had the passenger seat filled with books. Not something a self-respecting thief wants to be seen with, no doubt.

            And only the city of Tucson is liberal. The surrounding suburbs (where I am currently in exile) are Phoenix Lite.

          2. MichelesPantalones

            I have a dear friend in Phoenix whom I will not be visiting until that stupid "being in Arizona while brown" legislation is repealed. I must admit, I hated Phoenix the few times I've visited, so it's no great loss to me. But I rather liked Tucson. I'm glad I didn't get to experience its Lite side.

        2. Doktor Zoom

          Har! Worst Date Ever: a "life coach" who, when I mentioned my Sunday thing is to sit at a cafe and read for a few leisurely hours, said, "Oh, so you like to read for Fun and Adventure?"

  10. Lionel[redacted]Esq

    According to the results of my completely unscientific survey of Bunch of Grapes’s website, Laura Ingraham’s Of Thee I Zing, Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, and Mark Steyn’s After America were listed as available for online ordering.

    But I thought the whole point of his screed is that Obama shouldn't read fiction…, or in the above case, humor/fantasy.

  11. Buzz Feedback

    Cornholing for Dummies: How to Take it in the Ass with a 76 Seat Majority in the House and 59 Seats in the Senate.

  12. Goonemeritus

    The dude is on vacation, hell I dipped my toe into female fiction last summer and read some Flanery O'Conour. It was all I could do to resist throwing myself into a highway department wood chipper.

  13. bumfug

    Considering he followed a conservative president who couldn't read a book of fucking matches, I'm not complaining about his choices.

  14. DustBowlBlues

    BTW–The idiocy of complaining about the offerings of a hoity-toity book shop proves how ridiculous these people are. This "legendary" book shop clearly panders to people who read. And everyone knows the fully literate are nothing but elitists.

  15. SorosBot

    I said, “Oh, kind Miss, it most certainly does”
    She says, “You must be jokin’.” I say, “I wish I was!”
    Then she says, “You don’t read women authors, do you?”
    Least that’s what I think I hear her say
    “Well,” I say, “how would you know and what would it matter anyway?”

    “Well,” she says, “you just don’t seem like you do!”
    I said, “You’re way wrong”
    She says, “Which ones have you read then?” I say, “I read Erica Jong!”
    She goes away for a minute
    And I slide up out of my chair
    I step outside back to the busy street but nobody’s going anywhere

  16. Mumbletypeg

    Is there a "Fiction for Dummies" installment available to Mr. Troy? I'll deliver it to him pesronally — after whacking him across the head with a copy of Closing of American Conservative Mind.

  17. Nothingisamiss

    He may even have written a book or two, and I don't know if every word in it is exactly as I would have written.

    I find this VERY upsetting.

  18. Nothingisamiss

    I would also like to know what movies he sees, when he sees them, and I would like to infer from this list what he did and did not like in each.

  19. Grief_Lessons

    You know, every time I feel despondent about the prevalence of right-wing moronism, I get a little sniff of something (usually from Salon.com) that reminds me how stultifying left-wing moronism can be.

    1. V572 T-Blow

      I hear Thomas Kincaide, Painter of Light®, is also looking to pick up some additional work.

      1. KenLayIsAlive

        Perhaps they can redo a Hitlerian "Deviant Art" display with the likes of a Piss Christ next to some of Chris Offili's Mary portrait with Elephant Dung. Would Pat Roberston be pleased by this? We hope so.

        Anyway, we all know that real art is being surpressed by the liberal elites. When will America see this man's all important satirical cereal Obama box? Heeengh? Heeeeeengh?

        1. V572 T-Blow

          Mapplethorpe gets people pretty excited too, in various ways depending on their “preferences.”

  20. ThundercatHo

    He could read the complete works on Ayn Rand and that would satisfy the woman and conservative requirement. But, why would you want to fuck up your vacay that way? Personally, I'd rather take my chances with Irene.

  21. LettucePrey

    Iz Teh Bible a liberal book or a conservative book?

    Part 1 says Teh Jews are God's favorite people.

    Part 2 is about a dude who hung out with prostitutes and lepers; drank wine; lambasted the rich; opposed capital punishment; and advocated for redistribution of personal wealth, the separation of church/state, and an end to the social class divide.

    HMM.

  22. Wonderthing

    I don't trust a man who ain't read my pomes. Here's one:

    Roses are red. Violets are violet.
    That's why they're called violets.
    What idiot ever called them blues?
    Where was I? Oh yes. Roses are red.

    Etc. The end.

    That's good poetry I don't care how smart you are.

    .

  23. MiniMencken

    Women writers are the best! Just think of Danielle Steele, Jackie Collins and Barbara Cartland — every house on the Vineyard must have several yards of their books just lying around, waiting for a vacationing President to come along. Why aren't they on the list?

  24. AntonovBureau

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought Atlas Shrugged was a novel. Or is it unquestionable gospel now, like the bible which there is only one version of and can never be changed. Like the Koran.

    1. Jukesgrrl

      Definitely a gospel. My high school English teacher told me it was on our required reading list because it is The Truth.

    2. Inchhigh

      OMG! I remember when I found out as a little kid that the bible could never be added to and I got a pencil and wrote stuff in the blank space left at the end of Revelations. Don't remember what…I also chopped off all the warning labels on mattresses and pillows that said it was against the law to remove them. Jeezus, I was crazy…

  25. SayItWithWookies

    As far as women authors, Karen Armstrong is one of the best writers on modern culture and religion, and I highly recommend The Battle for God, her survey of fundamentalism in the Abrahamic religions.

    As to the constant swarm of nitpickers wanting President Obama to do/wear/say/act in whichever way they find laudable and avoid everything else, good fucking gravy y'all — I will find your asses and follow you around for a day discussing how you slow & go at the stop signs, sign your name funny, and use emoticons in your email, among other things. It won't be fun, but I'm hoping it'll bug the shit out of you before it bugs the shit out of me.

  26. sunmusing

    Can ewe reed dis Mistah Troy? "I raise both hands, trembling slightly in anticipation. I hold them out in front of me, about eye level, palms facing inward, and slowly, ever so slowly I curl my pinkies down into my palms. Taking a big breath, and clearing my mind, I deliberately, and with a sureness I thought was not a part of my being, I lowered both ring fingers. Ahhhh….Now with a quick and firm jerk, I curl my ring fingers, and thumbs, downwards, leaving a double message to Mistah Troy. Read that fucker.

  27. Steverino247

    The X-Rated Bible by Ben Edward Akerley
    God is Not Great by Christopher Hitchens
    The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins
    Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
    The Hobbit by John McCain

  28. poncho_pilot

    so what i got from this:

    1) you should read books by hack-pundits that label you, the reader, a Fascist before you even open the book. but…

    2) …the President should only read books about the Civil War. states rights!

    3) some people have too much time on their hands and maybe should be out building sandbag walls or something.

  29. edgydrifter

    Sounds like Obama needs to pick up a copy of Go Fuck Yourself, I'll Read What I Want. Seriously, in this economy how do useless windbags like Tevi Troy keep drawing paychecks? It's a frickin' anti-miracle.

    And Robin Black? I don't know what books you have on your suggested Presidential Reading List, but I'll hazard a guess and say they all suck ass. It would be soooo much better if the president dumped the Khalil Gibran in favor of some Nora Roberts because her lack of a schlong would improve Sasha and Malia's self-esteem, right? How about we let Barry tell the girls, "these are the books I like to read. You might want to check them out, but if they don't suit you, that's perfectly fine. There's a whole world of books out there waiting–find the ones you love and cherish them." Wouldn't it be a lot more affirming to Sasha and Malia if their dad let them make their own choices instead of demanding they tick off the required texts from Robin Black's Very Important List? Jesus fuck! The man has a lot on his plate right about now, and even though I think he's doing a shit job of it in a lot of ways, I say if he wants to get his geek on reading some Tolkien in the can, it's his own damned business.

  30. poncho_pilot

    "i'm not saying that the President is out of touch with reality. no sir! not by any means am i suggesting that Obama is some kind of fanboy. but i think from perusing his reading list, one might get that impression."

    –Tevi Troy, professional boring person.

    1. Doktor Zoom

      I actually read the damn thing, pirated off'n the internet back in '91 or so, when I was in the habit of debunking Holocaust deniers in alt.revisionism (Usenet!). It's an epically bad bit of writing.

  31. BerkeleyBear

    I actually discoverred 20 years ago that some of the best universities in the world rely heavily on novles to teach history to undergraduates whenever they can, since a) they are a lot more interesting and b) they put shit in context. Of course, almost every one of those schools is a well known bastion of liberal academia, so I guess it is a wash in NRO land.

    The discussion of female authors reminds me a lot of the bitchfest about "The Help" being written by a white woman. Never mind that there are both white and black main characters, it apparently was just beyond the pale for a white girl to try and set out how she thought a less educated black woman would right and speak based on her own memories of the South, rather than doing some massive level of research on "authentic dialect." Stupid ass bullshit.

  32. BerkeleyBear

    Does he like what he's reading? Is it entertaining and imparts some sort of knowledge? Then fucking celbrate it, because the last 4 guys in the WH were 1) A guy who couldn't remember what he read 2) A guy who seemed not to get anything from whatever he might have read 3) A guy who obsessed on political writings and poontang chasing to the exclusion of anything else and 4) A guy who I'm pretty sure used the books he "read" to build a fort to hide from the "bad men".

  33. genxr

    Ok, just non-snark for a sec, I used to read non-fiction exclusively because I had the same snooty attitude towards novels – they're fiction! what could I possibly learn from them? But now, when I'm done with work, I would much rather sit down to an entertaining, well-written novel. I read enough non-fiction at work, and I'm sure Obama does too.

    When I get off work, it's nice to hop on the train and pull out my ebook (sorry Borders!) with something I can read and relax.

    1. anniegetyerfun

      I almost never read novels because I loathe how quickly I can pick up and predict a character's "voice", especially in books where the character narrate (or multiple characters narrate). I read plenty of non-fiction, but thanks to the wonders of alcohol, remain blissfully out of touch with reality.

    2. orygoon

      Mind candy is cheap therapy–I remember gratefully how Zelazny helped me get through one of the crappiest divorces ever. And actual "literature" is considered Great Stuff for a reason. Hell, a million reasons.

  34. ttommyunger

    I prefer short stories myself, such as: "Republican War Heroes" "Famous Conservatives With Actual Street Creds" and "Biographies of Right-Wing Philanthropists"…

  35. metamarcisf

    Alarmingly, Troy leaves out the rest of Laura Ingraham's canon, which includes "I Zing the Body Electric", "I Know Why the Caged Bird Zings", and "I Never Zang for My Father", WND bestzellers, all.

  36. Jukesgrrl

    The real question is: why didn't he learn from the last time this happened and send someone else out for this books. I know I'm blaming the victim but he needs to learn how to play the game.

  37. Rotundo_

    I wonder what the crop of candidates the republicans are out with are reading, Rick Perry doesn't sound like a reader, although maybe he might still be trying to figure this animal breeding thing since he barely passed the course on the first go at TAMU. Though if asked they will surely answer "The Bible" with big shit eating grins safe in the knowledge that Supply Side Jesus will lift them upon his shoulders when the rupture comes.

  38. Callyson

    Someone from the *National Review* is complaining that Obama reads fiction? You'd think they'd appreciate the attention…

    1. Tundra Grifter

      Years ago I received (by mistake) a fund-raising letter from Bill Buckley, about how important it was to contribute money to keep his rag afloat.

      I returned the request with a letter stating I was a firm believer in the free market. If his magazine met a real need and was so gosh-darned important, doubtless it would have an audience (and advertisers) who would support it.

      He didn't write me back.

  39. widget2011

    While I have never had the pleasure of shopping there, the store’s website highlights a variety of its offerings, with nary a conservative work.

    There is a reason for that, in that conservatives write lousy books, and basically have no ideas, other than to pillage the poor to feed the rich. America would have been better off by letting the Mafia run the economy than the super-rich shitsacks that are running it now.(see Kochtopus).

  40. JimmyPete

    Holy chit, boxers or briefs, novels or comic books, WTF should he be reading Left Behind, or Twilight series. Mr. Tevi Troy are you really that upset about the alliterative effect of your name, branding you as a douche to who ever you are introduced to;that you felt like publishing this garbage.As for Ms. Black well excuse me lady, maybe having two daughters , a wife and a mom in law to live with should be countered with a tiny bit of manly reading. Presidente O has been alittle wimpy for my likes lately, "No Country for Old Men"/ Prez read it/ change it to No Country for Tea Bags.

  41. proudgrampa

    Jesus H. Christ. The President is on vacation. He would like to read for relaxation and relief from stress (have you noticed how GRAY his hair has turned, lately?). So, he should read what interests him and, if that includes a little "escapism," nothing wrong with it.

    Oh, and fuck you, Tevi Troy. Who appointed you head librarian? Asshole.

  42. orygoon

    I am a librarian, albeit a lightly employed one just now. And every library I've worked in has confidentiality. We got pissed off about that Patriot Act nonsense, but it's not just the feds we don't share (or want to share) records with. Without permission, nobody–not your mother, not your brother, and not your spouse.

    I can see why.

    However, I myself enjoyed "Cutting for Stone", and hope that the President does too.

    1. bebecca2298

      Cutting for Stone is one of my alltime favorite books, almost up there with A Prayer for Owen Meany.

      I have to say the national library group, I don't know the name, really got my attention when they stood up to the Patriot Act. They seemed so unassuming and apolitical until they were one of the few groups to question it. I've loved them ever since.

      1. orygoon

        You might like Measuring time/ Helon Habila. Also twins, also foreign…I read it before I read Verghese. I didn't make the similarity-connection until I started looking for copies for one of my sons–the son who, for that matter, suggested that I read A Prayer for Owen Meany.

  43. SaintRond

    The last "conservative" book I read was the Marquis de Sade's "Juliette." I had to put it down after the last page where the heroine roasts her nine year old daughter alive in an oven for the sexual thrill afforded some poop devouring maniac nobleman with sores on his face and a constant erection. Alas, even our own conservatives of today eschew their own literature, which I ascribe to the long horrible slide that is the breakdown of the American family.

  44. Doktor Zoom

    I see he's reading The Warmth of Other Suns, which is just plain awesome. I've just picked up Nixonland, which I hear tell Mr. Obama also read recently.

    The real scandal? Why isn't he reading any Terry Pratchett?

  45. mumbly_joe

    amputee Chicano lesbian composers of villanelles

    Oh? I never realized Elizabeth Bishop was an amputee. /nerd

  46. mumbly_joe

    Laura Ingraham’s Of Thee I Zing, Jonah Goldberg’s Liberal Fascism, and Mark Steyn’s After America were listed as available for online ordering.

    If Bunch of Grapes don't stock these books on shelves, it's possible that this is because of some sekrit libru conspiracy-bias. On the other hand, the reason might be that someone at Bunch of Grapes has actually read these books.

  47. Tundra Grifter

    The problem is this is a list of books that Mr. Obama actually purchased from a store, himself, probably with his own money.

    Previously "Presidential Reading Lists" have consisted of photographs of people like Mr. Bush (43) carting around some doorstop tome to try to impress people that he was deep. Kinda like those folks who sit in Starbuck's for hours with fat volumes open to page 2.

    Bunch of Grapes is a rare indy bookseller – with a great selection of local authors (Ward Just – who often writes about life in DC). It suffered major water damage a few years ago when a building next door caught fire – glad to hear it is up and running again.

  48. scifibrarian

    Except "amputee Chicano lesbian composers of villanelles" do not comprise half of the human race.

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