The Curious Autodidact

February 28, 2009

Pivotal Books Read by President Obama

Filed under: book related,cool internet stuff — Honilima @ 2:57 am

McNally Jackson Booksellers in New York City is focusing not on books written by or about Obama but mostly on the books the President read in his 20s, which the store has collected in a display titled “How History Was Made: Books that Inspired a President.” “There is an incredible range of books and writers,” said McNally Jackson’s John McGregor, who came up with the idea for the display shortly after Obama won the election in November.

McGregor conducted extensive research to compile the list of more than 50 featured titles, drawing on such sources as Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope and interviews given by Obama. “It was a really deep period of contemplation and study for him,” said McGregor. The young Obama’s reading selections ranged from Shakespeare’s King Lear and Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook to Adam Smith’s The Wealth of Nations and James Baldwin’s Notes of a Native Son. Also included in the display are some more recent books Obama has indicated reading, such as Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Gandhi: An Autobiography.

The books are arrayed on one entire table and half of another, one of the largest displays the store has ever done. Some of the titles are also showcased in a front window, and even in bitterly cold weather passersby are stopping in their tracks to take a closer look. “People have been really curious about it and asking how we came up with the books,” said McGregor. Some of the top-selling titles are Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes and Philip Roth’s The Ghost Writer.


McNally Jackson’s List of Titles Read by Obama

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren
The Antichrist by Friedrich Nietzsche
The Autobiography of Malcolm X
Bartleby the Scrivener by Herman Melville
Benito Cereno by Herman Melville
The Best and the Brightest by David Halberstam
The Bible
The Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche
The Book of Daniel by E.L. Doctorow
Cancer Ward by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
The Collected Writings of Thomas Jefferson
The Confessions of St. Augustine
The Courage to Be by Paul Tillich
Dynamics of Faith by Paul Tillich
Exodus by Leon Uris
The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay
Gandhi: An Autobiography
Gandhi’s Truth by Erik H. Erikson
The Ghost Writer by Philip Roth
Gilead by by Marilynne Robinson
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
Hamlet by Shakespeare
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
The Irony of American History by Reinhold Niebuhr
King Lear by Shakespeare
Loon Lake by E.L. Doctorow
Mila 18 by Leon Uris
Moral Man and Immoral Society by Reinhold Niebuhr
My Life as a Man by Philip Roth
Notes of a Native Son by James Baldwin
The Outsider by Richard Wright
Parting the Waters by Taylor Branch
Portnoy’s Complaint by Philip Roth
The Power Broker by Robert A. Caro
The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
Ragtime by E.L. Doctorow
Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinsky
Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
Tar Baby by Toni Morrison
The Theory of Moral Sentiments by Adam Smith
Thus Spoke Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche
The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Working by Studs Terkel
World’s Fair by E.L. Doctorow
The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon

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