Obama’s reading list

OBAMA’S READING LIST…. Barack Obama, it is safe to say, likes books more than his predecessor did. We know that much because he has written a couple of good ones — most notably, the well-received memoir Dreams From My Father, which launched him into the public sphere as a writer before his political career began — and because it is not a news event when he reads one, as it was when George W. Bush announced that he intended to thumb through Camus’s The Stranger on his summer vacation two years ago.

A president who is a serious reader is of course likely to be shaped by what he reads, and we know a bit about what has been on Obama’s list so far. From interviews, we know that Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls made an impression on him as a young man. His campaign reading list — or at least the books he chose to be seen with on the trail — included Jonathan Alter’s The Defining Moment, Larry Bartels’s Unequal Democracy, Steve Coll’s Ghost Wars, Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World, and Doris Kearns Goodwin’s Team of Rivals. And we know that, at least in the case of the latter book, Obama’s choice of reading has already had some impact on his governing choices (or at least on how pundits frame them on the Sunday-morning talk shows).

So in the hope that he’s willing to take a few more reading assignments, we asked a few of our favorite writers and thinkers to offer their suggestions on what the new president should have by his bedside. These writers and thinkers include: Reza Aslan, Andrew Bacevich, Jacques Barzun, Alan Brinkley, Steve Coll, Debra Dickerson, James Fallows, Joel Garreau, Nathan Glazer, Jeff Greenfield, David Ignatius, John Judis, Rachel Maddow, Joe Nocera, George Pelecanos, Jim Pinkerton, Walter Shapiro, Anne-Marie Slaughter, and Ron Suskind.

Their recommendations, in the upcoming January/February issue of the Washington Monthly, can be read here

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