Wednesday, January 25, 2017

BHO Book Recommendations

Saw this a few days or a week ago. Can’t remember where, exactly, as I cut and pasted it into an email to myself for a future blog post. Normally I include the link but this time I didn’t. So apologies for that. But this is the list that accompanied a short article detailing the book recommendations from our most recent ex-President over the past eight years.

Immediately suspecting the worst, I saved the list for future perusal. I expected a lot of ultra-left-wing nonsense. There are a few to be sure, but I was really surprised (and contest the authenticity of it, but I have neither the energy nor inclination to research that angle) about what I found: how many of his recommendations I have read, though not through his endorsement.

Anyway, here’s the list, and I don’t recall how it was ordered:

1. The Naked and the Dead, Norman Mailer
2. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Márquez
3. The Golden Notebook, Doris Lessing
4. The Woman Warrior, Maxine Hong Kingston
5. Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson
6. Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad
7. Nora Webster, Colm Toibin
8. The Laughing Monsters, Denis Johnson
9. Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth and Faith in the New China, Evan Osnos
10. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End, Dr. Atul Gawande
11. Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, Katherine Rundell
12. The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan
13. Redwall series, Brian Jacques
14. Junie B. Jones series, Barbara Park
15. Nuts To You, Lynn Rae Perkins
16. Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, William Finnegan
17. H Is for Hawk, Helen Macdonald
18. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins
19. Seveneves, Neal Stephenson
20. The Underground Railroad, Colson Whitehead
21. All That Is, James Salter
22. The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert
23. The Lowland, Jhumpa Lahiri
24. Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates
25. Washington: A Life, Ron Chernow
26. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
27. Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
28. Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
29. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
30. Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak
31. Moby Dick, Herman Melville
32. Self-Reliance, Ralph Waldo Emerson
33. Song Of Solomon, Toni Morrison
34. Parting The Waters, Taylor Branch
35. Gilead, Marylinne Robinson
36. Best and the Brightest, David Halberstam
37. The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton
38. Souls of Black Folk, W.E.B. Du Bois
39. The Power and the Glory, Graham Greene
40. The Quiet American, Graham Greene
41. Cancer Ward, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
42. Gandhi’s autobiography
43. Working, Studs Terkel
44. Wealth of Nations, Adam Smith
45. Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith
46. All the King’s Men, Robert Penn Warren
47. Cutting for Stone, Abraham Verghese
48. To the End of the Land, David Grossman
49. Purity, Jonathan Franzen
50. A Bend in the River, V. S. Naipau
51. Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff
52. Lush Life, Richard Price
53. Netherland, Joseph O’Neill
54. Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights, Salman Rushdie
55. Redeployment, Phil Klay
56. Invisible Man, Ralph Ellison
57. Plainsong, Kent Haruf
58. The Way Home, George Pelecanos
59. What Is the What, Dave Eggers
60. Philosophy & Literature, Peter S. Thompson
61. Collected Poems, Derek Walcott
62. In Dubious Battle, John Steinbeck
63. Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn
64. The Three-Body Problem, Liu Cixin
65. Harry Potter series, J.K. Rowling
66. The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt, Edmund Morris
67. John Adams, David McCullough
68. Lincoln: The Biography of a Writer, Fred Kaplan
69. Defining Moment: FDR’s Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope, Jonathan Alte
70. FDR, Jean Edward Smith
71. Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Doris Kearns Goodwin
72. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln
73. Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution and How It Can Renew America, Thomas L. Friedman
74. Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan, and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001, Steve Coll
75. Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age, Larry Bartels
76. The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, Robert A. Caro
77. Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Evan Osnos
78. Thinking, Fast and Slow, Daniel Kahneman
79. Moral Man And Immoral Society, Reinhold Niebuhr
80. A Kind And Just Parent, William Ayers
81. The Post-American World, Fareed Zakaria
82. Lessons in Disaster, Gordon Goldstein
83. Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari
84. The Fire Next Time, James Baldwin
85. Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American, Richard S. Tedlow
86. Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity, Katherine Boo

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

I’ve read eight out of eighty-six, or about one out of eleven. From Barrack Obama! Shocking! For the record, those books are:

Heart of Darkness (never got it, despite two valiant attempts)

Of Mice and Men (read it in high school; deserves a re-read)

Moby Dick (Yay! Best Book re-read of 2016!)

Self-Reliance (I call bullshit on this one – Obama didn’t read it)

The Power and the Glory (meh … read back in 2007)

In Dubious Battle (loved it in high school and again in 2002 or so, despite the inherent leftism)

Harry Potter (just read the first one, in 2000, way before the phenomenon exploded)

Where the Wild Things Are (as a kid, and again with my daughters)

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

I would like to read the following books off the list:

Seveneves (a possible Round Three of my love/hate with Stephenson)

Treasure Island (loved Kidnapped – see Hopper Best-Ofs to the left)

Gandhi’s autobiography (if I had all the time in the world …)

Team of Rivals (I have it on the book shelf behind me – maybe this summer!)

Washington: A Life (to be put on the Acquisitions List)

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

My daughters have both read, and were quite fond of, the Junie B. Jones books, recommendation number 14. The movie version a few years ago was great, too.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

Books I would not touch, books I would keep several feet at bay as if they were venomous ophidia:

The one by Ta-Nesi Coates

The one by Toni Morrison

The one by Thomas Friedman

The one by Harari, solely for its use of the inelegant “humankind” in its title

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

So there you have it: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Barrack Obama’s 2009-2016 book recommendations.

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