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Summer Reading List Battle: Obama vs. Trump!

June 20, 2018

The summer reading list has always struck me as odd, unless it’s a school assigning books over the long break.  If you’re an adult and you give yourself a summer reading list, that means you’re planning out what you’ll read ahead of time.  I’ve never done that.  I improvise my summer reading.  I try to plan out everything else in my life (usually unsuccessfully), but my reading is spontaneous.

Last week, former President Obama released his summer reading list, and a few news outlets reported on it.  Even though Obama isn’t president, a lot of people wish he still were, so this kind of story probably gets views.  Our current president doesn’t really put out book lists, so news junkies who are into that have to go to other politicians.

Like me, President Trump doesn’t have a summer reading list, but that’s because he doesn’t read books.  A lot of people make fun of President Trump for not reading books.  They think it’s a sign of willful ignorance or stupidity.  Even though I write a lot and have a book blog, I disagree.  I’ve known a lot of people who don’t read books, and intelligence has nothing (or little) to do with it.  Just as we book readers don’t understand how somebody DOESN’T read books, non-book readers wonder why we’re wasting our time.  From their point of view, you’re not accomplishing anything worthwhile when you’re reading a book.  You could be fixing something, creating something, building relationships with other people (or destroying them).  Instead, we’re sitting in a quiet corner or room by ourselves reading.

It’s a different perspective.  At least Trump isn’t lying about the books he reads.  If anything, he might be lying about not reading books.  Maybe he reads lots of books but lies about it so that nobody can figure out his mindset by looking at his reading list.  It’s a stretch, but I’ve seen paranoids do a lot more to keep secrets.

Former President Obama isn’t just putting out a book list.  He’s also signed a huge deal with Netflix to produce some stuff, even though nobody in the general public knows what that stuff is yet.  Obama has claimed that education is a priority to him, but a study (that I wrote about last week ) shows that the use of Netflix and other streaming services is leading to a huge decline in reading.  Maybe that study was wrong.  Maybe that study was financed by BIG PUBLISHING to fit with their pro-reading agenda.  Those dirty SOBs!

Maybe Obama plans to turn his favorite recommended books into Netflix programming,  but some of the books that Obama has on his reading list might not make for the best binge watching.  Books like Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick Deneen or In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History by Mitch Landrieu sound like they would bore the average person.  That’s okay.  When he was president, Obama bored the average person too.  When he got off script, he rambled, said “Uuuh,” and cameras caught audience members falling asleep.  I think President Obama even fell asleep a couple times during his speeches.

At least nobody gets bored during a Trump speech.  People get mad.  People get high blood pressure.  People get into fights.  But people don’t fall asleep.  And the two(?) books on Trump’s reading list would be more interesting to the average person.  All Quiet on the Western Front  by Erich Maria Remarque is universally accepted as a great novel.  It’s thought of as the first anti-war novel, so Trump critics who think he’ll get us into a war can feel better about that (unless you think that selection is a feint, which it could be).  The Bible is kind of widely read as well.  Whenever I make a book list, I add The Bible, just to be on the safe side.  Maybe that’s what Trump is doing when he includes The Bible, negotiating for the afterlife.  That’s Trump for you, always negotiating.

If I had to choose between reading lists, I’d take Trump’s over Obama’s.  It’s not that I prefer him as a president.  It’s just that his reading list is much shorter, and it never changes.  Next summer, when Obama comes out with another collection of books, most of which won’t interest me, I can know that I’ve already read everything on Trump’s list and move on.  That’s what I like to do with most reading lists, ignore them.  I like to write about reading lists, but I don’t actually like to read the books on them.

*****

What do you think?  Do you ever get influenced by anyone else’s reading lists?  What recommended books have you enjoyed in the past?

From → Literary Combat

3 Comments
  1. If anything, I’m inclined to avoid things that are on people’s reading list unless I know them personally and they say “Hey. You’d like this book.”

    I don’t like being seen as riding a book bandwagon. Though to be fair. A Gentleman in Moscow lived up to the hype.

    • “I don’t like being seen as riding a book bandwagon.”-

      Ha! I think I’m the same way. I refuse to buy a book with a cover that says “Now a major motion picture!

      • In that case, you’ll have to avoid both All Quiet On The Western Front and the Bible.
        Especially the Bible.

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