August 24, 2009

The books Obama is supposedly reading on his vacation.

The list:
• The Way Home by George Pelecanos, a crime thriller based in Washington;
• Lush Life by Richard Price, a story of race and class set in New York's Lower East Side;
• Tom Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded, on the benefits to America of an environmental revolution;
• John Adams by David McCullough;
• Plainsong by Kent Haruf, a drama about the life of eight different characters living in a Colorado prairie community.
I never believe Presidents are actually reading the books their people tell us they're reading, so, for me, the only question is what they thought they were saying with these titles and why they thought it was a good idea to say that.

If you could pick a book for Obama to read — actually read — what book would you pick? If he could make you read a book of his choice, what do you think it would be? If you picked political books or history books or economics books, please pick again and be more out there so this late night discussion isn't too boring.

***

I'm just noticing that all Obama's books are written by men. Maybe these really are the books he's reading. If it's PR, his PR people have a big blind spot.

ADDED: Didn't everyone who wanted to read that bloated John Adams book already read it? And wasn't Obama supposed to be reading that Tom Friedman book last year?
Friedman’s dumb books full of “I went golfing somewhere in India, reminding me of the Asian pizza I ate at the airport in Dubai” globalization-fellating idiocy are Required Reading in certain middlebrow circles....

[O]nce “going green” became so safely uncontroversial that motherfucking Garfield was eating solar-powered lasagna, it was time for Tom Friedman to incoherently rebuke everything he ever wrote before — about Earth and how for some insane reason he thinks saying it’s “flat” is some deep enigmatic statement of the times rather than, really, just an idiot trying to make up a catch phrase. So, once the carbon-farting global golfer hitched his tortured prose to the Green bandwagon, everybody in every management situation had to act like they read this awful book.

But they didn’t. Nobody read the whole thing. Of course it’s still on Barack Obama’s fake reading list. And there it will stay, year after year, just like back in the 1990s when Dan Quayle comically claimed that he tried (and failed) to read Niccolo Machiavelli’s The Prince each summer, because that seemed — to Dan Quayle, anyway — like the kind of thing a politician maybe should’ve know about, 20 years ago.

180 comments:

paul a'barge said...

I would recommend that Obama watch this.

Hit back twice as hard, indeed.

Seven Machos said...

Atlas Shrugged

john said...

Manchester's "The Last Lion", both volumes, and then make him reserve volume 3 for when it finally comes out.

Partly to make amends for his bone-headed decision to return the Churchill bust. Partly so he can learn a little history.

Seven Machos said...

Also, it's absolute bullshit that he's going to read all those books, if any of them. The list sounds like everything else to come out of Obama's administration: a committee decision that tries to look all smooth but comes off pitch-poor and unrealistic.

Bush did this right, by the way. He walked to the helicopter with the book Bias conspicuously displayed to the media cameras.

Finally, I never thought I'd say this but I dearly miss Bill Clinton's genuineness and authenticity. I am wholly serious.

former law student said...

If you could pick a book for Obama to read — actually read — what book would you pick?
***

I'm just noticing that all Obama's books are written by men.

I can fix that.

Mayer, Jane The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How The War on Terror Turned into a War on American Ideals

Gordon-Reed, Annette The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

whoops

If you picked political books or history books or economics books, please pick again and be more out there

I have no head for what fiction people should read. More off-beat but good:

Vanderbilt, Tom. Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says about Us)

Wickersham, Joan The Suicide Index: Putting My Father’s Death in Order

PatCA said...

So he's going to read one book every two days? Riiiight.

I'd have him read The Unbearable Lightness of Being by M. Kundera. It could be read as a warning against O's wonky, unsustainable cool, and against the emptiness of the grand march of history that O is trailing after.

former law student said...

it's absolute bullshit that he's going to read all those books, if any of them.

That's pretty much how vacation reading works. slate is careful to say that those are the books Obama packed, not the books he has committed to read.

Has a new Tom Clancy come out? What about Carl Hiassen?

I like to take Burgess's Malayan Trilogy on vacation. Rereading is better than reading when your goal is to lie in the sun and bake like a lizard.

Seven Machos said...

Yes, FLS, when I go on vacation, I try to pack a list of books that will make me look politically correct and otherwise just right to the American people. I also always release it to major media outlets.

I was just on vacation recently. I'm surprised you missed the articles.

Joan said...

But what if I really like politics, history and economics? My pick would be Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man, obviously.

For fiction, three post-apocalyptic little reads, Lois Lowry's trilogy, The Giver, Gathering Blue, and The Messenger. They're "kid lit" but very powerful nonetheless, and speak compellingly about freedom and sacrifice.

rcocean said...

Exactly, if a politician tells us what books he reads, the list had better be "diverse".

Politicians don't tell us what they really read - what they tell us is politically motivated.

I think Obama is really reading "America's Half-blood Prince".

daubiere said...

Ok, thomas Paine's "Common Sense".

How about the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili?

rcocean said...

Or maybe Obama is reading "The Peter Principle".

former law student said...

Yes, FLS, when I go on vacation, I try to pack a list of books that will make me look politically correct and otherwise just right to the American people.

Obama's list is semi-serious but not pc. He's not reading utter crap (not counting the lightweight Tom Friedman, the Oakland of the New York Times). But he's not reading Lessons We Learned from Katrina, either.

I also always release it to major media outlets.

Hey I remember reading about W's taking Camus on vacation. Journalists obsess over trivia like Michelle's shorts.

But the Nation doesn't care if you're giving Ulysses another go or not.

Seven Machos said...

Here's the thing, FLS. He's not really on vacation. He's going to be working (one way or the other) most of the time.

It's purely contrived. If Bush did it, it was contrived then, too.

former law student said...

My pick would be Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man, obviously.

then you need to read Nick Taylor's American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the WPA: When FDR Put the Nation to Work

G Joubert said...

The Road to Serfdom, by Friedrich von Hayek

Seven Machos said...

Four weeks of self-imposed moratroium here says FLS has not read The Forgotten Man.

Jana said...

Has he gotten the memo that Friedman's opinions are pretty debunked at this point, and shouldn't he have read John Adams a long time ago?

He should totally read Eat, Pray, Love.

Seven Machos said...

Jana -- Why read about Adams -- someone so much lesser than Obama is politically or intellectually?

Bruce Hayden said...

Has a new Tom Clancy come out? What about Carl Hiassen?

I don't see Obama reading Clancy, or at least not too much. His characters are just too neo-conservative for him. Indeed, in one of his later books, Jack Ryan's nephews are working for a secret agency of sorts, and one of the last things that Ryan did was give them a stack of signed pardons, just in case an Obama-type became President.

Tom Friedman's Hot, Flat, and Crowded, on the benefits to America of an environmental revolution.

Sure, Friedman is light and fast, but that is part of what vacation reading is all about. He typically does have something to say, and says it in an interesting way, though he probably could cut it down a bit and still get his message across.

(Not saying that I believe everything he says, because I obviously don't, and likely would find fault with this book - but still may read it anyway just for the thoughts he evokes).

LonewackoDotCom said...

I suggest he read this. For extra credit, he could take it with him - stuffed with bookmarks - when he goes visiting.

But, seriously, why couldn't he go somewhere a bit more middle America? Would it hurt him to have gone to, say, Prairie Dog Village? OK, maybe not that. But, what about Bryce? I did Bryce, the Grand Canyon, and Zion from L.A. in less than 48 hours, including short hikes in each. That would leave him plenty of time to catch up on his reading.

Seven Machos said...

Come on, Wacko. Nothing says in tocuh with the clingers like a trip to Martha's Vineyard in August.

Jason said...

Sun Tzu, The Art of War. The Tzu-ner, the better.

Jason said...

About Face, by Col. David Hackworth

Cabbage said...

Dostoevsky's Demons (also known as The Possessed)

Why? Because in a cynical place like Washington, its important to remember the inevitable consequences of nihilism.

Joan said...

Jason: LOL. And some people say the pun is the lowest form of humor.

FLS: I love the enduring legacy of the WPA, like the stone pavilion that was built at Rocky Neck State Park in CT. I don't hold any illusions about the WPA putting the country back to work, though. WPA jobs were temporary make-work that didn't really help.

Metternich said...

Without question, the best book on the Middle East is The Middle East by Bernard Lewis. Buy it here at Amazon or elsewhere.

Once you read this, the Middle East will not be the puzzle it was before. I promise.

Thunder Pig said...

Liberty and Tyranny by Lark Levin.

OhioAnne said...

I was not surprised at all to see all the books written by men.

Did you see Glenn Reynolds "Czar Reviews" video? Assuming it is correct: Given the opportunity to pick 36 people NOT subject to Senate review, approximately 24 appeared to be white men (even "old" white men). Only a half dozen or so were women.

Then, there is the marginization of Hillary Clinton ....

Florida said...

Plenty of time to read third-rate crime novels, but it's pretty clear what Obama hasn't read:

"H.R. 3200"

Florida said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Donna B. said...

I'd suggest "Leadership for Dummies" or "The Idiot's Guide to Good Government"

Ron said...

Bukowski's Barfly. I'd trust him more if he did.

AllenS said...

The Declaration of Independence
and the
Constitution of the United States of America

also

Hillary Clinton's It Takes a Village

for an opposing view.

rhhardin said...

John Gall, _Systemantics_ or one of its successor editions, on why large systems never work.

nympsyl, what kind of markov process thinks that follows English transition frequencies?

Greybeard said...

Surprised no one has mentioned "The Manchurian Candidate", but I like Allen S's suggestion best so far.

NKVD said...

He should read War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. If he understood it, he might see the danger in over reaching. The battle of Borodino and the "battle" of Moscow should get special attention.

But he is probably really reading Das Kapital or some other commie shit.

David said...

Capitalism and Freedom by Milton Friedman.

The Law by Frederick Bastiat.

The Government Against the Economy by George Reisman.

All short and easy to read.

Dad Bones said...

He's already read too many of the wrong things. There's no turning back for that old left-hander.

John Lynch said...

I just realized that I almost never read books by women.

Huh.

For the President, The Bottom Billion, by Paul Collier.

Ron said...

How's about My Little Goat to make sure he has a text to help him through a major crisis like W did!

ddh said...

"Liberal Fascism" by Jonah Goldberg for obvious reasons. And for a more out there choice, "The Autobiography of an Unknown Indian" by Nirad Chaudhuri because Chaudhuri was against Fanon before Fanon was written.

chuckR said...

"Being There" by Jerzy Kosinski.

Shanna said...

There was an article in the WSJ years ago about how men don't typically read books by women (women will read either). They tested it giving people neutral names, masculine names and femine names (and covers) to see what people picked. But still, bad PR.

So he's going to read one book every two days? Riiiight.

I was surprised when the news said he was going to read 8 books, but since most of them are fiction that's not too daunting. Not that I believe he will actually read all of them, but I always pack way more reading material than I will actual get to.

I actually think Bush did read the books he packed, or at least they were ones he was working on. They didn't seem chosen by committee as much to me, more chosen from the best selling non-fiction list from the last year or two.

Thought about buying The Middle East by Lewis at the bookstore the other day, but wasn't sure if it was any good. May check it out next time I'm at the bookstore.

Bissage said...

"Luminous Animals and Other Drawings" by B. Kliban.

jacksonianlawyer said...

The Federalist Papers

Common Sense

Democracy In America

Reflections on The Revolution In France

The Bible

Ralph L said...

Since he needs a girlie book, I suggest Emma. The problem is he would see himself as Mr. Knightley, instead of the protoganist or Mrs. Elton.

Pogo said...

One would have to believe that a man like Obama could read Witness by Whittaker Chambers and be persuaded by the author's intelligence and experience.

But that seems unlikely.

Jake said...

Thomas Friedman??? Somebody put the wrong Friedman on the list.

And this list was constructed to make us believe that Obama is smart? Jeez, that is frightening. (Tom) Friedman writes for middle managers trying to appear (as Palin would say) "intullectual".

And not only wrong and infantile in his analysis, but a horrible writer. Read this:

http://rolocroz.com/junk/friedman.html

Funny that Obama's PR crew didn't put Barnett or Kagan or George Friedman up for the geo-pol entry. My bet is that whoever made the list probably hasn't ever read any real grand strategy.

If Obama truly does read Tom Friedman for the economics, God save us. That's like reading Dr. Seuss to get a better understanding of health care policy.

Lisa said...

Obama has issues with women so it is unlikely he would read a book about women,

As for John Adams, he should have read that already.

WV: hillc
reminds me how much better off we would have been with Clinton

Lisa said...

WHat SHOULD he read?

The Handmaid's Tale
It Takes a Village
Women of the Wall: Claiming Sacred Ground at Judaism's Holy Site
Infidel
Founding Mothers

Shanna said...

I hate the Handmaid's Tail.

Since he needs a girlie book, I suggest Emma.

Better Pride and Prejudice, where there is at least a faint chance he would learn something.

Jim said...

+1 on Friednman being an unimaginative hack whose sole gift is the ability to get smarter people with an agenda to tell him what to write. He is the scribe of someone else's thoughts and ideas. Nothing original springs from his rich, insulated life.

As for books, Obama should read "The Looming Tower" by Lawrence Wright. That might give him enough pause to stop these ridiculous CIA prosecutions from happening. Holder is just doing his boss's political dirty work to distract the increasingly uneasy Far Left from the Health Care debacle.

Jason (the commenter) said...

If you could pick a book for Obama to read — actually read — what book would you pick?

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, it would let him know what he's up against and also keep him from using that "free lunch" line.

If he could make you read a book of his choice, what do you think it would be?

Either The Audacity of Hope or Dreams from My Father, duh.

Lisa said...

Shanna,

It's not just that men don't read books written by women, they don't read books ABOUT women either. Many school teachers when selecting books for their class tend to pick books where males are the main character so the boys won't get 'bored' or be unable to relate to it. Funny, they never think that girls might be bored of reading another story about a boy.

sydney said...

Recommend he read:

The Constitution of the United States
The Declaration of Independence
Deus est Caritas

John Lynch said...

I just think that books by women aren't just books by women, but a certain subset of books by women that get published.

Most books written by women these days are also written for women. Since I'm not a woman...

Blogs I read are closer to 50/50.

And I'll just throw in that "Atlas Shrugged" is a terrible book, and the ideology it pushes is destructive. There.

rdkraus said...

Animal Farm.

And he should keep reading it until he figures out which animal he is.

Then he should resign and ... oh wait, Joe Biden.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRGHHHHHH

El Presidente said...

Understanding Thermodynamics

rdkraus said...

I took an Agatha Christie and Pride and Prejudice to Hawaii.

Read Christie on the plane there.

Never got to Austen. Mai Tais kept getting in the way.

Read it when I got home. Pretty good book. Actually, better than that.

SuperDave said...

I'm not sure that the President, as well as many Americans, get what this "America" deal is all about. Therefore for this vacation, his reading should be a learning experience that could also be very entertaining. I recommend Sen. James Webb's "Born Fighting."

With this, the President may find clarity into the Scotch-Irish (redneck) mindset of the not too "Typical White Person." Here he will find out why Americans challenge authority, pioneer new frontiers, and eventually accept all who also adopt their mindset.

rdasher said...

Seeing as how Obama was raised in a Marxist environment, and sought out leftist classes in college, and associated with leftists his whole life, I don't think he would understand a book with conservative leanings. Not at all.

t-man said...

I would suggest Bend Sinister by Nabokov.

t-man said...

Also, Macbeth

Shanna said...

I just think that books by women aren't just books by women, but a certain subset of books by women that get published.

The study I read was not about books that get published, it showed males book covers that were exactly the same masculine, the back writeup's etc... and showed that men would pick the same book with a masculine name over a feminine one (I believe, it's been a while since I read the article).

Maybe men think that every book that gets published by women is going to be a syrupy romance and that's why they won't pick up a book with a female author.

If you look at books with just initials as the name, they are often female. I think there is a reason for that that has nothing to do with what type of books get published.

Animal farm is a great suggestion. Of course, we could go all the way and just say 1984.

Carl in Jerusalem said...

The Israel Test by George Gilder.

John said...

The list is a joke. No one is going to read that many books cover to cover in a week, unless they do nothing but read for the entire week and then some.

"It's not just that men don't read books written by women, they don't read books ABOUT women either. Many school teachers when selecting books for their class tend to pick books where males are the main character so the boys won't get 'bored' or be unable to relate to it. Funny, they never think that girls might be bored of reading another story about a boy."

In the last 15 years the opposite seems to be true. Lots of boys have had to suffer through The Joy Luck Club or Jane Austin or more likely just blew it off. Schools are run by feminists and designed for girls to excel and boys to either adapt or get out.

Maddad said...

Principles of Economics

-Lost My Cookies

Shanna said...

Jane Austin

Is it really so bad to include a little Jane Austen amongst endless Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, Dickens, Orwell, Heart of Darkness, Walden Pond, that book about baseball and a million other male authors. Do you really think people read more female authors than male in school? Cause that wasn't my experience.

I mean, I'm not trying to make a big deal of it, honestly. But Jane Austen is awesome and if I had to read the Heart of Darkness book I don't feel bad that soem high school boy had to read Jane Austen.

John said...

"Is it really so bad to include a little Jane Austen amongst endless Shakespeare, Dostoyevsky, Dickens, Orwell, Heart of Darkness, Walden Pond, that book about baseball and a million other male authors. Do you really think people read more female authors than male in school? Cause that wasn't my experience."


When did you go to school? And no Jane Austin isn't bad. She is a good author. But I will take Will Cather or the Brontes over her anytime. And girls like her. Amy Tan in contrast is not worthy of being in the ciriculum.

MPH said...

Atlas Shrugged, for sure.

rhhardin said...

The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory Carol J. Adams.

Crimso said...

So after Althouse suggests that people leave out politics, history, and economics, people throw in suggestions for politcs, history and economics. SHe didn't forbid science, and someone upthread (ElPresidente?) recommended thermodynamics. A good start that will help him understand not just global warming but the basic driving force of the universe. Wonderful subject. Later on he can read 2001: A Space Odyssey. This will help him realize that even foolproof computers incapable of making errors are sometimes wrong, and that it's best not to base any policy at all (much less sweeping policy) on computers and computer models where extremely complex systems are concerned.

TW: likeollu. I sure do likeollu all, even those who insult and hate me.

John Lynch said...

On changing the cover of the book or the name, I understand that men choose on the basis of the cover rather than the content.

But we all do that.

Why did men learn to do that? I don't assume that it's inborn. I've never talked to anyone about it before. There's no conditioning I've undergone that books by women aren't worth reading (my father enjoyed Jane Austen quite a bit). I don't think women are worse at writing (probably the opposite).

I think it's just that women are perceived to be writing for a female audience. Modern feminism has probably reinforced that idea. Books may be one of the areas of pop culture where men don't have to deal with women if they don't want to. That's not a good thing, but it may be the answer.

ET1492 said...

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Leguin.

Randroideka said...

I'll second Atlas Shrugged, even though it's hard to categorize based solely on the author's gender.

Cincinnatus said...

These suggestions are too advanced for him. A Chicago politician does not know or care about the difference between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson.

John Lynch said...

In 2001 the computer wasn't wrong in the way of making a mistake.

He was unable to lie, so he killed the crew instead. Then he didn't have to keep lying to them.

For recommendations, Patrick O'Brian. Jane Austen for men.

Shy Guy said...

May I recommend a self-help book?

Shy Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hoosier Daddy said...

How about he read a freshmen level Econ 101 book?

That would be good. Yes thank you.

Crimso said...

John Lynch:
I thought he was wrong about the AE35 unit, and since they decided to disconnect him for safety purposes (and he could read lips), he couldn't allow that to happen. IIRC, telling him to keep the mission secret was essentially a lie that drove him "insane," thus leading to his mistake. I may be misremembering all of this (i.e., wrong). The fact that the book and movie were different in certain key respects doesn't help. But I do think the talk of lying and mentally ill infallibles is apt here.

Porphyrogenitus said...

Books I didn't see anyone else recommend, throwing in my 2 coppers:

"Constitution of Liberty" by Hayek.
"Basic Economics" by Sowell (hopefully then he'll read more Sowell)
"Berlin Wild"
"Life at the Bottom" by Dalyrimple

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I would suggest that Obama read anything by Steinbeck.

The Grapes of Wrath, would be good so he could understand what things were like in the Great Depression compared to the ginned up depression he is trying to foist upon us.

East of Eden.

To Kill A Mocking Bird

The Great Gatsby by F Scott Fitzgerald

Skipper50 said...

What evidence do we have that he's ever read a book at all?

Shanna said...

When did you go to school?

I went to high school in the 90's. Those are the books I remember reading (we also read Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre, and I think I've read all the bronte books, but I prefer Jane Austen). We also read Camus, that american author who was a drunk and whose name I cannot remember for the life of me. Sound and Fury signifying nothing? That guy? Gah!

Shanna said...

For the record, least favorite book read in high school... Pearl Buck. The good Earth. I HATED that book.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

For the record, least favorite book read in high school

mine Charles Dickens Great Expectations. That book just about ruined reading for me....and I love to read. Several books a week. I hated that book. Maybe it was the teacher's method but even today the thought of Charles Dickens is just repulsive.

Shanna said...

DBQ, I hated Great Expectation too. If there is actual good Dickens someone will have to tell me because I have never tried to read it for that reason.

On changing the cover of the book or the name, I understand that men choose on the basis of the cover rather than the content.

The point of the article was that men who would ordinarily chose a certain book because of the cover/subject matter/etc.. would chose not to read it simply because the author was female. I’m not trying to harp on this, I just thought it was fascinating and that’s why it’s stuck in my head for 10 years or so.

Shy Guy said...

More people who hated being forced to read Dickens.

Let's form a support group!

DaveO said...

How about "Introduction to Microeconomics"

John said...

You are thinking of Faulkner Shanna. And yes he is an aquired taste. My least favorite book in High School was the Grapes of Wrath. I kept hoping for the Jodes to get run over by a bus.

John Lynch said...

Crimso- I'm going by the book 2001 and the movie 2010.

HAL faked the AE35 malfunction. In the movie 2001, you'll notice that right before the malfunction HAL asks a lot of leading questions about the mission secrecy. He's trying to get Bowman to figure out what's going on so HAL doesn't have to keep lying. When Bowman decides that HAL is doing a psych profile, HAL reports the malfunction.

Hoosier Daddy said...

For the record, least favorite book read in high school

The Scarlett Letter. I told my teacher that I would rather wear the horse hair shirt than have to suffer that kind of book again.

Favorite book in High School was Moby Dick and Catcher in the Rye.

gully_foyle said...

Wrong Friedman. Milton Friedman's Capitalism and Freedom. I guess that's hard to find in Obama's Chicago because obviously he hasn't read it.

Crimso said...

I now think you are correct, John Lynch. In any case, there's a warning there about putting too much reliance on computers, particularly those that can think.

John Lynch said...

Let's just all agree that High School Lit just sucks. I don't remember anything that was any good, except Huck Finn. I had to read that three times because I kept changing schools. It got me through the AP English test.

Skookum John said...

I second the motion for Bastiat, but suggest starting with What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen rather than The Law.

John Lynch said...

Crimso- yeah, totally. I was making a nitpick and not addressing your main point.

You can't solve real world problems with rules like a computer program.

Hoosier Daddy said...

I also thought A Separate Peace was very good as well. Actually I might have to pull that out again.

Lisa said...

John said,"In the last 15 years the opposite seems to be true. Lots of boys have had to suffer through The Joy Luck Club or Jane Austin or more likely just blew it off. Schools are run by feminists and designed for girls to excel and boys to either adapt or get out."

Suffer through Jane Austen? I see. It's educational for boys and girls to read Hemmingway, Hawthorne, Shakespeare, Elliott, Poe or any other of the countless classic male authors but it really is a harsh to make a poor boy read Austen? She's one of the best author's in the English language and yet her work causes suffering for boys because she was a woman.

Texas Tom said...

Arthur Koestler, A Darkness at Noon.

WV: warboary - piggish behavior in the Dept. of Defense.

John Lynch said...

Yeah, Jane Austen is good. I just don't think high school boys are going to appreciate her. It's wasted on them.

former law student said...

Atlas Shrugged is a book for adolescents, and Obama is no adolescent. John Galt's seventy page monolog emphasizes how horribly bloated, self-indulgent, and didactic it is. But we do learn that only Libertarians can achieve orgasm, so that's a good thing I suppose.

I strongly suspect that, like the readers of The Bridges of Madison County, those most impressed by the Randian oeuvre are unused to reading for pleasure.

bagoh20 said...

Kama Sutra, It's a freaking vacation! Michelle is going too right?

Shanna said...

You are thinking of Faulkner Shanna

Yes, Faulkner! I didn't loathe Faulkner, but he definately wasn't my favorite.

John Lynch said...

Agree about Atlas Shrugged. Read it when I was 18. Took a while longer to realize that a book about bringing down the US because you lose a few elections is NOT a good book.

Tobin Sparfeld said...

Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt

Shanna said...

Hemmingway

This is who I was thinking of with the drunk thing :)

Ignorance is Bliss said...

If you picked political books or history books or economics books, please pick again...

Seven Machos said...

Atlas Shrugged

You hit the trifecta: It's clearly political and economics, and will likely be history in 8 to 10 years.

Also, he would likely get that whole protagonist/antagonist thing mixed up.

I'd suggest the 10th amendment. It's short enough that he could read it 100 times a day, every day, until he figures it out.

rdkraus said...

John

Check back when you figure out what the book was about.

I don't even love that book, but for cryin out loud.

Maddad said...

I was thinking about joking about all of the reading I did in college that made me what I am today and suggesting "Rubyfruit Jungle". But the Turing Word I got was "beard" and I laughed so hard I forgot my joke.

-LMC

former law student said...

Suffer through Jane Austen? I see. It's educational for boys and girls to read Hemmingway, Hawthorne, Shakespeare, Elliott, Poe or any other of the countless classic male authors but it really is a harsh to make a poor boy read Austen? She's one of the best author's in the English language and yet her work causes suffering for boys because she was a woman.

Two factors make Austen hard to read. One is the structure of her prose. In general, books written more than a century ago employ dense prose. The Brontes are much worse than Austen. Shelley's Frankenstein is slightly more impenetrable, but I would suggest putting that in the lineup, for the following reason:

Austen's plots revolve around girls getting married. While this has been the primary obsession of adolescent girls since time began, boys have never found it of significant interest. For them, replace Austen with The Game, the chronicle of the Pick Up Artist community. Boys would be much more entertained by the stories of those who can pick up a woman in a bar any time they want to.

kwood said...

"Starship Troopers" by Robert A. Heinlein.

Hell, anything by RAH.

Beta Conservative said...

Maybe he should read The Bible so he can keeps tabs on his Dad.

Shanna said...

I think the question is do we need a separate list for boys and girls in school? If we have to agree on what the important books are to read, than that won’t work so well. If we have to crowd out book that girls will like because boys don’t like them, aren’t we going to have the opposite problem? I think high school literature should be about exposing people to a wide variety of authors, because you never know what you are going to like until you read them. It’s also about making sure you are at least aware of certain literature that is, for whatever reason, considered important for everyone to know. If you have never read Shakespeare or 1984 or some other books, there are references in popular culture and in the wider world that you are not going to get.

Of course, some people don’t like to read and they aren’t going to be happy about any of it, but those are the people who rent the movie and read cliffs notes anyway. They can get the references from that and they don’t care about finding new authors.

bagoh20 said...

It's amazing how many people assume they are above the "mid managers" and "adolescents". Talking books always brings that out.

Pogo said...

I'd suggest The Sociopath Next Door , but that'd likely be more appropriate for Obama's staff.

bagoh20 said...

Paul a'barge, (first comment in thread)

That video by Bill Whittle is great. I like that guy a lot. He is the essence of correct and concise with the American spirit in full force. Explains it all 13 minutes.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Starship Troopers" by Robert A. Heinlein.

Most excellent book. The flipside was Stranger in a Strange Land which I simply could not stand.

Hoosier Daddy said...

It's amazing how many people assume they are above the "mid managers" and "adolescents".

Well I agree with FLS that Obama is no adolescent. His grasp of basic economics clearly puts him in pre-school territory.

Gullyborg said...

Most of those already suggested are excellent. Too add another: City of God by St Augustine.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

How about, instead of reading books, he just reads Althouse

Comments like this are sure to earn me a tag. What's that? Althouse hates brown-nosers? Crap.

Kyle said...

How about Black Rednecks and White Liberals by Thomas Sowell... For that matter, anything by Thomas Sowell.

madawaskan said...

Then he should resign and ... oh wait, Joe Biden.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRGHHHHHH


rkraus-

Well I'm laughing a lot but it could be out of "pathos"?

And, after Biden-

P-E-L-O-S-I.

Long Live Obama.

madawaskan said...

I'm trying to think of what turned me into a hard core right winger-

Could have been -

Huck Finn-or-

Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Ya, I blame that prairie bitch.

wv:amidame American Woman....

dbp said...

Speaking of Turing, how about Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson?

It is fast paced and would fill some rather obvious holes in our President's education.

Paul Snively said...

My picks for Obama if I believed he'd actually read them:

Economics in One Lession

The Road to Serfdom

Physics for Future Presidents


God knows he needs the education.

Word verification: "volizen," one of the citizens complaining loudly at the "town hall" meetings.

Smilin' Jack said...

I'm just noticing that all Obama's books are written by men. Maybe these really are the books he's reading. If it's PR, his PR people have a big blind spot.

Two big blind spots: women, and people who want him to suffer. I'd cover both by making him read the collected works of Toni Morrison. Or maybe Barbara Kingsolver.

elHombre said...

"Our Sacred Honor" by Wm Bennett: that he might learn something of American values from a source other than the Frankfurt School.

"Know What You Believe" by PE Little: that he might learn that Christianity actually has beliefs trancending politics and Black Liberation Theology.

"Gates of Fire" by Stephen Pressfield: that he might learn something of patriotism, sacrifice and valor -- beyond bloviating.

Before you can penetrate the ideology of an indoctrinated progressive like Obama you have to expose him to trancendent values. Otherwise, concepts like liberty, honor, ethics, are lost in the haze of Marxism, eugenics and idol worship, or, in his case, narcissism.

NKVD said...

The Snows of Kilimanjaro, by Ernest Hemingway. It has Kenyans in it.

former law student said...

If we have to crowd out book that girls will like because boys don’t like them, aren’t we going to have the opposite problem?

I don't think so. Women watch TV even when no soap opera is on. Plots that involve actual events still manage to intrigue women.

how many people assume they are above ... "adolescents".

The issue is not being above or on a par. The butterfly is not "above" the caterpillar; their lives are simply different.

Adolescence is the time when you are trying to understand the adult world you will soon join. Adults have already figured it out, or are at least content with their understanding of it.

Now, Heinlein wrote in the same libertarian vein as Rand, and he appealed mightily to adolescent males. His prose is however much more seductive because he was a much better craftsman than Rand. His books detail how young men (and a few women) accomplish significant new things, while (in the later books) having plenty of sex in the process.

BJM said...

"Menace in Europe" by Claire Berlinski

"Postwar" by Tony Judt

"The Ancestor's Tale" by Richard Dawkins

"The Professor and the Madman" by Simon Winchester

"The Lost Painting" by Jonathan Harr

PrestoPundit said...

The Fatal Conceit by F. A. Hayek

Shanna said...

Women watch TV even when no soap opera is on.

That's because women don't all sit around watching soap operas, eating bon-bon's and having the vapors. Good lord.

My point is that if the girls have to read a book about baseball that they think is completely idiotic, it wont' hurt the boys to read a book about women in the 18th century that they think is completely idiotic.

I do think there is room for some choice of what you read in school. Sometimes maybe there should be a list of acceptable books and you get to decide. That happened a few times in high school.

On Dickens, I do remember that I like a Tale of Two Cities, now that I'm thinking about it.

Chip Ahoy said...

Caring For Your New Kitten -- Joseph Stalin

Botox, and Other Anger Management Techniques -- Nancy Pelosi

My Struggle With Attention Deficit Disorder -- Newt Gingrich

How to Win in the Stock Market -- Martha Stewart

Understanding Tax Laws -- Mark Rich

25 Easy Proven Beauty Tips -- Helen Thomas

Self-Grooming Made Easy -- Janeane Garofalo 

Surviving Personal Tragedy -- Linda Blaire

Travel the Country on Skis -- Sony Bono

Intermediate Navagation -- Amelia Earhart

BJM said...

fls, I read SciFi from the age of ten or so and it never ocurred to me that the ideals expressed were male centric.

Many of us also liked the Three Stooges; go figure.

SChaser said...

Since he is the commander in chief, I suggest One Second After by William R. Forstchen.

This is a sober novel about life after an Electromagnetic Pulse Attack (EMP) against the United States. Chillingly realistic, it shows how medium technology, such as that possessed by Iran and North Korea, could be used anonymously to devastate the United States.

Also recommended reading on the same subject, the U.S Government's Commission on ...EMP... reports.

Ken said...

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward.

former law student said...

it never ocurred to me that the ideals expressed were male centric.

Which Heinlein characters did you most identify with?

Henry said...

Jonathan Livingston Seagull

Escapism for the escapist. Plus it's really short.

sonicfrog said...

But what if I really like politics, history and economics? My pick would be Amity Shlaes' The Forgotten Man, obviously.

My God, that was a horrible book. I was expecting some economic details on exactly why the New Deal fell so short in reinvigorating the economy. Instead, all I got was "He was a socialist" and "She was a socialist" That appeared to be the main focus of the book - naming names. It was not much more than a modern version of a McCarthyite show trial, a Neo-McCarthist manifesto, if you will.

Anyway, Obama should read a textbook on economics or something along those lines. And maybe "How To Win Friends And Influence People", since he's seem to forgotten how to do that.

traditionalguy said...

If Obama wants to "be like Bush", then he needs to memorize The Case for Democracy by Natan Sharansky.

Shanna said...

How bout "The Little Ice Age".

Joe said...

Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood, illustrations by Don Wood (and the illustrations are marvelous.)

Dune by Frank Herbert.

Blood and Chocolate by Annette Curtis.

There Are No Spies by Bill Granger.

Programming Server-Side Applications for Microsoft Windows 2000 by Jeffrey Richter

English as a Second F*cking Language: How to Swear Effectively, Explained in Detail with Numerous Examples Taken From Everyday Life by Sterling Johnson

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Said BJM:" I read SciFi from the age of ten or so and it never ocurred to me that the ideals expressed were male centric"

Me too!! I read a lot of science fiction and always have ever since I was a small girl. I also read all of the Edgar Rice Burroughs books as a child. Loved the adventure and mysterious abandonded civilizations. The Mars series was my favorite.

I never cared much for the hardware sci fi books...too much technical details on mechanical stuff. Ender's War and that whole series is fabulous.

The classifying of books into boy vs girl might be true for some books or some people, but there are so many that cross over and anyone can enjoy or at least read to experience a broader range of literature

madawaskan said...

Dune is the best sci-fi of all time, but do we really want Obama reading, that?

madawaskan said...

I mean soon he'd say we need $8 billion to build a sand worm from LA to Vegas, and make us drink our own piss.

AllenS said...

Nothing from L. Ron Hubbard, please.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Ya, I blame that prairie bitch.

The prairie bitch's daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, was an influential right-wing writer on purpose.

Hucbald said...

"The City of God" - Saint Augustine

madawaskan said...

Paul-

Whoa, I didn't know that....

Oh and back to my original pick-

Huck Finn-

I just read this on wiki-

Twain wrote a novel that embodies the search for freedom.[...]

According to the American Library Association, Huckleberry Finn was the fifth most frequently challenged book in the United States during the 1990s.[20]


I guess they don't read Huck Finn much anymore...

.

bearbee said...

"Damn the United States! I wish I may never hear of the United States again!"

The Man Without a Country

----

My God, that was a horrible book. I was expecting some economic details on exactly why the New Deal fell so short in reinvigorating the economy.

Try "The Politically Incorrect Guide to The Great Depression and The New Deal".

Sigivald said...

Pretty much any Terry Pratchett book (at least in the Discworld series).

Any of them would expose him to views that would be helpfully liberal/libertarian, at least - and he could probably use a good laugh.

raf said...

Everything by Terry Pratchett.


dedula: the vampire after the stake.

Sy said...

The Wealth of Nations, by Adam Smith

Any Econ 101 college textbook

Diamondhead said...

The Loved One - Evelyn Waugh. He might be able to finish that one in about a week. Or maybe he'll just curl up in bed at night with a copy of the Social Register.

Roga said...

If you want a woman author, how about Amity Schlaes' The Forgotten Man?

Number one suggestion would have to be Hayek's Road to Serfdom though.

Richard said...

The Caine Mutiny by Herman Wouk, in the fiction category. I think it might be... enlightening. So too with McMaster's nonfiction Dereliction of Duty, for that matter.

And of course any good SF is a no-brainer; anything by Heinlein, Crichton, Card, Pournelle/Niven, etc. You can usually learn more from good SF than an entire library of political science, econ, or philosophy - though a good history will deliver all of those and more, with past generations to serve as your "test lab."

WV: trametag - a group of blog posts about parking lot shuttles at theme parks

Hoosier Daddy said...

And of course any good SF is a no-brainer; anything by Heinlein, Crichton, Card, Pournelle/Niven, etc.

Heinlein with some exceptions yes, Chrichton, Pournelle, Niven yes!

Honestly, I read Ender's Game and was thoroughly unimpressed. Empire was horrible IMO so I'm pretty much done with Orson Scott Card. SM Stirling writes some very fun sci-fi and alt-history so I recommend him as well.

wv -nonsia =Obama's economic policies

Jeremy said...

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snickett. Sure, it's kid-lit. But here's the point (as I see it), there are evil people out there who do awful things and they're not going away and sometimes you are that evil person, even unwittingly.

-The Other Jeremy

Shanna said...

I’ve got another one. “Something Rotten” by Jasper Fforde. A little bit crazy probably if you haven’t read the other books, but features, among other things, the “Common Sense Party”.

Jeremy, if he wants to read about evil, why don't we just go for it and suggest Harry Potter. Also has government officials who ignore the danger, overly officious ones who try to rule over the kids lives at school, and lots of other social commentary.

Joan said...

I'm trying to wrap my head around the fact that FLS read, and apparently liked, Heinlein -- at least enough to read several. How can you like Heinlein and be a modern-day "liberal"? Wouldn't the cognitive dissonance kill you?

Dune is probably the single best sf novel, but I wouldn't recommend it to Obama if he wanted to dabble in sf; the messiah business is just not appropriate. Maybe The Moon is a Harsh Mistress?

I just assumed that everyone skips that 70-page speech in Atlas Shrugged. Was I the only one? LOL.

Synova said...

"Many school teachers when selecting books for their class tend to pick books where males are the main character so the boys won't get 'bored' or be unable to relate to it. Funny, they never think that girls might be bored of reading another story about a boy."

Because girls aren't.

Case in point... The Hardy Boys vs. Nancy Drew. Now, Nancy is a great gal, but her adventures were interspersed with discussions about boys and redo-ing the hems so that her skirts were the right length this year. The Hardy Boys had all the same adventures (close enough for never-mind) but I can't think of any similar off-putting "boy" elements to them.

A girl who likes Nancy Drew mysteries will probably also like Hardy Boys every bit as much. Will a boy find Nancy just as accessible? I doubt it.

Boys expect certain things from "girl" books, and are they wrong?

Sports books and horse books are not just the same books but with boys in one and girls in the other. A sports book with girls would appeal to those who like sports books and a horse book with boys would appeal to those who like horse books. It's really not the case that the most important thing is if the main character is a boy or a girl. (If someone doesn't like sports books it won't matter one bit if the lead character is a boy or a girl.)

Consider science fiction read by men. A few generations ago nearly all the characters (even secondary and minor ones, or even especially all the "cast") were male. The writers, if female, used male pseudonyms. This is no longer the case. I'm not sure I'd describe SM Stirling's books as "very fun" but he's a good example of writing both male and female lead characters and appealing to a male audience. David Weber writes military SF with primarily female leads that is read by men as often (or more often) than not. The most popular female authors have a fan base that is just as much men as women and women writers do not use male pseudonyms.

Take, oh, computer games as an obvious area that proves that macho young men do not at all mind playing and identifying with a female avatar. You can give a boy a "first person shooter" with a female lead who talks in a female voice and he won't even blink. Also, IME, men playing role playing games will chose female avatars more often than women playing the same games chose male avatars.

The idea that boys won't identify with girl characters just isn't true. Something *else* is going on.

John said...

I would reccomend he read Ann Applebaum's Gulag and Amity Shales The Forgoten Man. If there are two things that would do Obama good, it would be dispelling the myth that Communism is anything but a murderous insane ideology and that the New Deal was anything but a disaster.

former law student said...

How can you like Heinlein and be a modern-day "liberal"?

The value of ideas does not depend on how attractively or seductively they are presented. You have to develop your critical thinking abilities.

At the same time I was reading Heinlein I read Upton Sinclair's The Jungle -- a powerful ad for Socialism -- without turning Socialist.

terimed -- Dr. Teresa's screen name.

Cedarford said...

I'm just noticing that all Obama's books are written by men. Maybe these really are the books he's reading. If it's PR, his PR people have a big blind spot.

How would he look reading a typical woman's book? "Cellulite - 101 exercise and dieting tips to make your skin look perfect". "Brad and Angelina - A Lifes Journey in the Moment"?

Gotta give props to Wonkette though...she does a demolition of Thomas Friedman fellating the globalists, Greenies of the Ruling Elites that is priceless. Maybe he should have had "Wonkette: Writings 2004-2009" in his summer reading bag.

-------------
Greybeard said...
Surprised no one has mentioned "The Manchurian Candidate" - that was John McCain's book. Many Republicans believe even though it was written well before McCain went to Vietnam - it is de facto semi-authobiographical based on McCain's long history going into backrooms with Teddy or Kerry or Feingold and emerging with a "bipartisan deal" that gives what Democrats want and screwed his fellow REpublicans.

Among members of the Senate, Teddy Kennedy is actually ranked far higher in integrity than McCain, even among Republicans.

------------
I'd dispense with sarcastic offers of irrelevant Churchill gruel, pet right wing books (Heilein, Ayn Rand, etc,), and Reaganomics economist theology books Obama and 80% of the country have no interest in reading. I'd add that Thomas Sowell is a fine exception..Obama would do well reading his stuff.

What I'd like seeing Obama read:

1. Government of Japan publication 126 pages: "Explaining Japan's health insurance system to Japanese immigrants returning to the Homeland. Efficiency, low cost and high quality is striven for every day." Written in Portuguese (for Brazilian-Japanese), English, and Spanish.

2. John Hopkins University Medical (214 pages): "Essays on Canadian Healthcare. History, present challenges."

3. Short stories of Andre Dubus.

4. The Black Book of Communism.

Seven Machos said...

Of course Atlas Shrugged is a juvenile, socially stunted book. So is The Communist Manifesto.

Atlas Shrugged has the advantage of very accurately describing what happens to a society when socialism is imposed, even though the cure for the malady is adolescent fantasy.

former law student said...

The idea that boys won't identify with girl characters just isn't true.

It depends. Are you playing a first person shooter, or "Mystery Date"?

BJM said...

DBQ @12:10

Burroughs's Mars series definitely goes hand in hand with Lovecraft's "Cthulhu Mythos". Asimov's Foundation & Robot series and Niven Ringworld series are favs too.

Anything written by Bradbury is amazing. Clarke's "Rendezvous with Rama", Kris Neville's classic "Bettyann" and "The Forest of Zil" (haunting imagery that has stayed with me since the 60's), Jerry Pournelle, Fritz Leiber, Ellison, Pohl, Niven, Kornbluth,and Heinlein were big influences.

I prefer Niven & Pournelle's "The Mote In God's Eye" to Herbert's "Dune". However I liked Lynch's cheesy film.

Niven's Law is more apt today than ever: "There is no cause so right that one cannot find a fool following it."

NKVD said...

I liked Dune, Rendezvous with Rama, a lot of Heinlein's work, but Obama needs to read The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

That would give him plenty of ideas about how to handle dissenters a bit more efficiently.

jpr9954 said...

I would suggest either John Ross's "Unintended Consequences" or Matthew Bracken's "Enemies Foreign and Domestic" trilogy (esp. the last one - "Foreign Enemies and Traitors") to put the fear of God (and the common man who still clings to his guns and religion) into him.

However, since I doubt he would get it, I guess I'll go with either "The Forgotten Man" or "Atlas Shrugged". Both are highly relevant to these days and times.

Synova said...

Me: The idea that boys won't identify with girl characters just isn't true.

fls: "It depends. Are you playing a first person shooter, or "Mystery Date"?"

See, that's my point. It's the FPS part, not the fact that a boy is risking catching girl cooties by playing a character named "Laura Croft". Writing "Mystery Date" but using boy characters so boys are willing to play it simply will not help.

Men who like reading military SF aren't bothered by Honor Harrington's menstrual cycles, either.

Synova said...

I suppose I should actually answer the question.

I think that Obama should read something fun and escapist on vacation and leave catching up on relevant political texts for day-to-day reading, but even then, I'm not certain it actually serves a purpose. It's not time for him to form new opinions about the world filtered through other people. The non-fiction he should be reading is likely all classified and it's his JOB to analyze and then synthesize it HIMSELF.

NKVD said...

Unintended Consequences is an interesting book - imagine a time in this country when being a good shot was actual something of value.

Good times...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

@BJM

I bet you would like these.

Another soft sci fi/fantasy/time paradox set is the Many Colored Land and the Galactic Mileu series. By Julian May a prolific woman science fiction writer.

One of my favorites to just read more than once. Has all sorts of elements. Science, sex, psycology, mythology, time paradox, aliens, humor. Great reading.

David Brin's Uplift Series is also a good read. The Kiln People is also interesting if difficult to get your mind wrapped around the concepts of all the different versions of self.

Like I said. Although I like science fiction, I get bored with detailed mechanical, schematics or weaponry descriptions and tend to skim over that part to get to the meat of the plot. I do the same in spy or contemporary war novels as well unless the mechanism is integral to the plot. Usually it isn't. Just thrown in there for the "guys". Tedious details. Just move the plot along please.

steve said...

Governing for Dummies

Elmer Stoup said...

Read Thucydides (Landmark Thucydides) edited by Robert Strassler. The world is a mean place where nations play for keeps.

Then read Herodotus (also edited by Robert Strassler). A new and amusing story on every page, plus you get to see the Persian emperor at work.

veni vidi vici said...

He should read Michael Yon's "Moment of Truth in Iraq".

For enjoyment's sake, I can't strongly enough recommend anything by John Wyndham.

For some additional scope on the fight he's in in Afghanistan, I'd like to know he's read Olaf Caroe's "The Pathans".


wv: "undslyth" -- the slimey stuff snails ride on.

dennisr2 said...

The Once and Future King by T.H. White

Bad Science, The Short Life and Weird Times of Cold Fusion by Gary Taubes