Monday, November 10, 2008

Thankful for a President Who Reads

Trying to surf a holiday wave, I was all set to post reviews of new Thanksgiving-themed books. But they're not really thrilling me. And I only review books I’m genuinely excited about.

Plus, am I the only one who hasn’t been able to concentrate on real work ever since Obama won? Although I was inspired by, um, his rival for the nomination, I’ll admit to being among those weeping for joy on Tuesday night.

Among all his other assets, this is someone to whom words matter. Look at what he reads. Thick meaty books…Twain and Steinbeck, Graham Greene and Robert Penn Warren…lots of nonfiction… even the book I’m always trying to get my book club to pick-- Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook. Some enterprising souls are recommending even more books before he takes office. But I'm too thankful to give advice. Well, maybe he might make a general proclamation someday when he's not too busy solving all the other problems: “American kids should be reading more nonfiction." But this Thanksgiving I say ask not what Obama can do for you, ask what you can do for Obama.


teacherninja said...

And he can speak, too! In, like, paragraphs!

Anonymous said...

Amen, Kathleen!

Kathleen Krull said...

Righto, teacherninja - and we're not saying these things to be condescending. Americans deserve a Prez who reads, speaks, thinks. But most children do not yet know what this is like.

And Gail - thanks for so speedily linking up -

Ms. Yingling said...

I do like the Krull biographies of scientists. It can be difficult to find nonfiction that students like-- I will have to take a nice, hard look at your web site. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Wow, I assume you're slamming George W. Bush with your remarks. According to this 2006 article in the US News and World Report, President Bush is a voracious reader...or maybe you just have a problem with the material he reads - which would be really ironic coming from a non-fiction writer.

Bush's reading list: heavy on bios and baseball
By Kenneth T. Walsh
Posted 8/17/06
George W. Bush a bookworm? White House aides say it's so. The born-again president's literary interests start with the predictable, such as his daily readings from the Bible. But he also enjoys books about Abraham Lincoln, his political hero, and, of course, yarns about baseball-in a past life, he was, after all, the managing partner of the Texas Rangers. Staffers say the president is actually engaged in an informal contest with White House senior adviser Karl Rove to see who can read more books this year. The latest score card has Bush ahead 60-50.A sampling of the president's reading list so far this year, according to White House aides:

Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky

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American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin (a biography of Robert Oppenheimer, an inventor of the atomic bomb)

Clemente: The Passion and Grace of Baseball's Last Hero by David Maraniss (about the late all-star Pittsburgh Pirates right fielder)

Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power by Richard Carwardine

Lincoln's Greatest Speech: The Second Inaugural by Ronald C. White Jr.

Mao: The Unknown Story by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday

Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks

Polio: An American Story by David Oshinsky (discussing how polio affected the United States in the mid-20th century)

The Big Bam: The Life and Times of Babe Ruth by Leigh Montville

The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry

Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky

The Stranger by Albert Camus

Kathleen Krull said...

Dear "Anonymous,"
I'm sorry if my lighthearted attempt to link Obama's victory to the subject of our blog hit you the wrong way. I wanted to add my voice to the blogospheric chorus of celebration, and this seemed a high-interest way of doing it. Meanwhile, Bush famously presented himself as anti-intellectual, and while that's a fascinating list of his reading, there is some speculation that it was manufactured by the White House as his approval ratings fell. For example, see

Unknown said...

It's time to enter the 21st century at last... yahoo!

Unknown said...

A reader, a writer, a thinker--a President who will be articulate--what joy there is in that!
As Thanksgiving Day approaches, that may be my major reason for giving thanks.

Linda Zajac said...

Dear Anonymous,
As a parting gift to wildlife, your buddy is planning to rip apart the Endangered Species Act despite the fact that over 250,000 comments were submitted against those legislation changes.
My husband asked some visiting Germans their opinion of Obama. They're reply was, "anyone but Bush." Election Day our relationship with other countries instantly improved.
I'm not afraid to sign my name.

Linda Zajac said...

ACK! Maybe I should have signed it anonymous, I spelled "their" wrong.

Kathleen Krull said...

And for more on what Obama is reading right now -