The Candidates and Their Reading Lists

Forget Jeb’s and Hillary’s tax returns. We get it: they both make a lot of money from speeches and such.

More interesting is what they read, or claim to read. Last year The Atlantic put together a list of Jeb’s and Hillary’s current book list. In one sense it doesn’t much matter whether they actually read the books they list; more revealing is what they chose to disclose.

Here’s Hillary’s list:

  • The Goldfinch, Donna Tartt
  • Mom & Me & Mom, Maya Angelou
  • Missing You, Harlan Coben
  • The Hare With Amber Eyes, Edmund de Waal
  • The Signature of All Things, Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Citizens of London, Lynne Olson
  • A Suitable Boy, Vikram Seth
  • Decision Points, George W. Bush
  • Faith of My Fathers, John McCain

We’ve commented before on the calculated pretentiousness of Hillary’s reading lists, especially when compared to her sub-pedestrian review of Henry Kissinger’s latest book, whose jejunosity is beyond the satiric imagination of Woody Allen. I find it doubtful that Hillary actually read President Bush’s memoir, or McCain’s. These appear to be attempts to give her the veneer of bipartisanship.

Here’s Jeb’s list:

  • Polk, Walter R. Borneman
  • The World America Made, Robert Kagan
  • Knowledge and Power, George Gilder
  • Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale Hurston
  • Abraham Lincoln, Lord Charnwood
  • The Rule of Nobody, Philip K. Howard
  • The Future and Its Enemies, Virginia Postrel
  • The Tragedy of American Compassion, Marvin Olasky
  • A Message to Garcia, Elbert Hubbard
  • The Smartest Kids in the World, Amanda Ripley
  • The Magnificent Masters, Gil Capps
  • Killing Jesus, Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

This is an interesting list that speaks well of Bush, for several reasons. I still argue that Charnwood’s Lincoln is the best Lincoln biography ever written. Some time I must do a whole separate post on why. Some of these books are a little dated, though still worth reading, especially if Bush missed them when they came out, such as Virginia Postrel’s The Future and Its Enemies, and Olasky’s Tragedy of American Compassion. A Message to Garcia? Well I have to have a soft spot for that old classic, since I have Elbert Hubbard’s portrait personally inscribed to my grandfather hanging on the wall in my library. The current Kagan and Howard books speak boldly to current public policy problems towards which Hillary is either oblivious or part of the problem. The only clear clunker on Bush’s list is Bill O’Reilly’s latest potboiler. Probably this is just Fox viewer bait.

I’d like to see similar book lists from all the candidates. If not, I may suggest a parody list for each, starting with Trump.