Obama Book Club – Doris Kearns Goodwin

Standard

For most of the past Mondays, I’ve shared with you some of President Obama’s book recommendations as outlined and discussed in this Entertainment Weekly Article.

I’ve tried to share books that I am somewhat familiar with. I am currently listening to the audiobook of Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. I am slightly distracted by the voice of the narrator, Richard Thomas, known in my childhood as John-Boy on the the popular show from the 1970s, The Waltons. He is the perfect voice to read anything related to the Civil War or this, a biography of Abraham Lincoln and his Administration, his team of rivals.
I’ve been reading a lot of history and biographies lately. Part of that I believe is to show myself how far we’ve fallen but also to be reminded of how much potential we have as a country. We can come back from anything. After all, we came back from the Civil War.We came back from 9/11. We can come back from the Trump Administration.

President Trump could learn a lot from Lincoln and how he worked with his oppositional party. It’s the only way our country can flourish; by coming together for the betterment of all.

The idea of an Obama Book Club was mentioned with humor in an article I read, probably that one I’ve linked to above, and I thought it was a great idea to recommend books that President Obama reads and recommends.

In the following weeks, I will share other “book clubs”, beginning with Emma Watson in one week’s time.

I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing inside our former president’s mind, a man who reads for work, for context, and for pleasure, all good reasons to read and to emulate.

Obama Book Club

Standard

The Harry Potter series is one of my all time favorites. It has influenced my most recent years in ways that almost can’t be expressed, and I found it all by accident.

As part of my Jewish heritage, I am prohibited from working on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I was always taught that work included driving, shopping, cooking during the day, coloring, writing (how ghastly!) and computer work.

In lieu of any of those things, since most years I did not attend Temple on the High Holy Days, I wanted something productive, but not work to do, and so each year, I chose one or two books to read. I didn’t read as much then as I do now, and so on the High Holidays, my way to prayer was to sit quietly, contemplate G-d and the universe, and read a new book.

Right around when I was pregnant or when my son was born, my friend, another teacher, gave me to borrow, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I hadn’t heard the hype yet or at least it was at the beginning of its pop culture takeover, right around when librarians and teachers were discovering that boys actually liked reading if you gave them something interesting to read – a good policy for all genders.

So, I read it. I think it took less than the two days of Rosh Hashanah, and I needed the next one immediately. I joined legions of kids waiting on the hold list for the fourth book when it came out at the library.

In the interim, right after the seventh book came out, I discovered fan fiction, and then I was writing fan fiction and somehow started and became a group leader in an online community of a subfandom of Harry Potter called Daydverse. It was wonderful for the creative doors it opened up, but more importantly it brought me a group of friends of all ages and walks of life that I continue to be close to.

Harry Potter opened a new world for me, and showed me through the related tangents that I had different paths to pursue.

I am continuing to pursue them.

Like President Obama in this Entertainment Weekly article, I highly recommend the Harry Potter series to all age groups.

From the books, find the movies, and the careers of the actors; the actor who played Draco is now on one of our family’s favorite television shows, The CW’s The Flash. From there, check out JK Rowling’s Twitter. I have great admiration for her as a person, and she has a lot to say.

But always, always, always, begin with the books. The books are magical. You will cease to be a Muggle forever.

Obama Book Club

Standard

As a young child, as voracious a reader that I was, I had never read Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. It was my close friend’s favorite book.

During my freshman year at college, there was an auction. Two of the British exchange students would tuck you into bed with a glass of warm milk an read you a bedtime story if yours was the highest bid.

The book was Where the Wild Things Are.

I was the highest bidder.

It was fun and sweet and I finally heard the story of Max.

Let the wild rumpus begin!

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak is on President Obama’s Entertainment Weekly Book List.

Look it up and have a flashback to your own childhood.

​​​

Obama Book Club

Standard

Continuing with our picks to the Obama Book Club, highlighted by this article from Entertainment Weekly, this week’s space goes to Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow.

I read this book right after reading his biography of Hamilton which was Lin-Manuel Miranda’s inspiration for his very popular Broadway msuical, Hamilton: An American Musical.

In both, I really enjoyed Chernow’s style and way of writing. Even as a fan of history, I sometimes find the reading of period writings to be a bit hard on the linguistics inside my head, but I didn’t find that in the Chernow books. In fact, it was strangely easy to imagine Hamilton and his contemporaries speaking and/or writing in hip-hop.

This biography of Founding Father, George Washington showed me a side of President Washington and his family that I hadn’t before seen or heard. It is by no means a simple read, but it is written in a way that is easy to understand. It held my interest throughout and I couldn’t put it down. It was one of those books that when finished, I wanted to read it again.

It has never been more important to recognize and know our history. Starting with the founding of our country as we look at our current global standing and the world around us.

Obama Book Club

Standard

Entertainment Weekly’s Book Recommendations from President Obama

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

These are just some of the accolades for this book:

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER | NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER | NAACP IMAGE AWARD WINNER | PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST | NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD FINALIST | NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times Book Review • O: The Oprah Magazine • The Washington Post • People • Entertainment Weekly • Vogue • Los Angeles Times • San Francisco Chronicle • Chicago Tribune • New York • Newsday • Library Journal • Publishers Weekly

Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States” (The New York Observer)

– – –

These were the words that stood out most to me when I read this book: “This is your country, this is your world, this is your body, and you must find some way to live within the all of it.”

I found it profound reading as someone who didn’t experience racial bias in the same ways as African-Americans. It gave me an insight that I hadn’t gotten before through television discussions.

I first became familiar with Ta-Nehisi Coates’ work through his appearances on several political talk shows. I liked, and still like, his straight-forwardness and truth telling as he expresses his experiences, his hopes for his children as well as a warning primer which should not be in any child’s vocabulary or life sphere.

The President and I read this for different reasons, and from different perspectives, but in recommending it I feel that we both expect our readers to take a look at and absorb what is happening in families right now. We were all part of the problem; it is time for all of us to be the solution.

Obama Book Club

Standard

As a writer, I am drawn to other writers and their processes. It is one of the main reasons that I follow pepole like Connie SchultzWil WheatonNeil Gaiman, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Another writer who I follow and get inspiration from was also recently the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

I’ve titled this based on Entertainment Weekly’s  article with a comprehensive list of Mr. Obama’s book recommendations.

Last week, he spoke to the New York Times about how reading and writing was his secret to surviving those White House years.

Beginning today, and for at least the next eight weeks, I will share one his book recommendations. I will also share if I’ve read it or if I plan to read it.

It was recently revealed that President Obama gave his oldest daughter, eighteen-year-old Malia a Kindle filled with books. I actually did this for my mother-in-law a couple of Christmases ago. It’s a wonderful gift for any avid reader. One of the books he put on it for her is The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing.

That is my first book suggesetion to you.
I have not read this book, but with my introduction about writers, and this book being about a writer and writing, I thought it a perfect initial choice. I have already added it to my reading list for when I get my next Amazon gift card.